KATHARINE & ELIZABETH CORR are sisters who co-write together. They are originally from Essex, and now reside in Surrey. Their books include ‘A Throne of Swans’ duology and the spell-binding trilogy ‘The Witch’s Kiss’. Their latest novel, Queen of Gods, is the gripping sequel to Daughter of Darkness, the unmissable fantasy inspired by ancient Greek myth. Good Reading for Young Adults caught with the sisters to discuss their latest novel.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Deina has finally found what matters most to her in all the world. And lost it. To save the one she loves, she’s bound herself to the Underworld and an endless future of darkness.
But not even her sacrifice is enough to secure Theron or her friends’ safety in the mortal realm. Aristaeus has seized power in Thebes and his tyrannical reign is a constant, looming threat to their lives.
So when Deina is offered the chance to destroy him and the gods altogether, she sets out on a new quest. But to succeed, she must turn away from everything she holds true.
In a game with the gods, the rewards are infinite . . . but the punishments are eternal.
Be prepared for a nail-biting race for survival in this breathtaking sequel to Daughter of Darkness.
MEET KATHARINE & ELIZABETH CORR
What inspired your fantasy duology?
Liz: Two questions, really. First, we thought about the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, and asked ourselves whether Eurydice really wanted to come back from the Underworld. And if she didn’t, why not? What might that say about the kind of man Orpheus was, and the possible gap between the myth and the reality? In the world of the ‘House Of Shadows’ duology, Orpheus has become a tyrant, ruler of the Theban Empire, and he has some pretty scary secrets.
Kate: Second, we wondered about the Bronze Age collapse – the sudden and still unexplained disintegration of the Mycenaean and other Bronze Age cultures from around 1200 BCE. If the rulers of great cities like Mycenae had foreseen the disaster that was approaching, what would they have given to prevent it happening? We reckoned they would have given a lot. Even, for example, offering the gods a tithe of children each year to be marked for their service. This is what happened in our alternative version of Ancient Greece: in return for these marked children, the gods continue to protect the cities where they’re worshiped, and gain power from the belief that’s generated. When Daughter Of Darkness opens this has been the status quo for hundreds of years, but still Deina dreams of something better.
We’re reunited with Deina again in Queen of Gods – what challenges will she face in this new story?
Kate: Lots! She has to go up against Aristaeus, Orpheus’s right-hand man and now self-proclaimed ruler of Thebes, who was left injured but not killed at the end of Daughter of Darkness. She also has to navigate a path through new realms: Poseidon’s kingdom, Circe’s island and Olympus itself, all while struggling to free herself from the grip of the Underworld.
Liz: Perhaps even more important, however, is her internal struggle, as the full consequences of her decisions at the end of Daughter Of Darkness become clear. You know that proverb about power corrupting? In Queen Of Gods, Deina is tested to the limit by her own desires and abilities, and is led into a very dark place indeed.
What can you tell us about some of the new characters readers will be introduced to in this sequel?
Liz: One of the things we wanted to do in this book was to show readers more of the other Orders of Theodesmioi, the mortals marked for the service of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, and Hephaestus. In Daughter Of Darkness, we focus almost entirely on the Soul Severers, who form the Order Of Hades. So, in Queen Of Gods, you’ll meet Tauredos and Archis. Tauredos, patient and methodical, is a Sea Singer of the Order of Poseidon who throws in his lot with Deina and the others before he’s bound to a new ship. Archis, impatient and fiery, is a Battle Wager of the Order of Zeus, gifted with more-than-human strength and agility. We also encounter the Spell Casters of the Order of Hephaestus. Deina loathes the Spell Casters on principle because they make the spell-cast torcs that physically limit Theodesmioi to certain locations. However, even she is horrified when she finds out what’s happened to them…
Kate: Queen Of Gods also features many more of your favourite ancient Greek gods. Hades is back, of course, and a certain god of death with ‘stunning good looks and a sunny personality’ (his own words) definitely makes an appearance. This time, though, readers will also meet Zeus, Poseidon, Hephaestus, Tyche (goddess of luck), Circe, Hypnos (god of sleep), and Cronos – Titan and former ruler of the gods, who definitely has a score to settle with Zeus and his other disobedient children.
How do you co-write your books? Can you tell us a bit about the writing process?
Kate: For us co-writing involves a certain amount of chaos, lots of laughs and the occasional civilised disagreement / dramatic squabble. We always plan the story in advance and allocate chapters, but since we write at different speeds and we always change our mind about what bits we want to write, it usually ends up more as a free for all. Thank goodness for the cloud – it’s the only thing that allows us to keep track of who’s done what! Our editors have always been great at acting as referees on those occasions where we’ve actually reached a complete impasse (usually over me wanting to kill/torture the characters a bit more and Liz trying to protect them).
Liz: The one thing we never do is write in the same room. Allegedly one of us is far too chatty and the other one finds that irritating. Allegedly.
Do you have a favourite Greek myth?
Kate: This is a tricky question – there are so many I love! However, I think I’ll have to pick the Trojan War, because of the number of amazing stories that ripple out from The Iliad and that initial tale of the wrath of Achilles. There’s The Odyssey, of course, but there are also the stories of Clytemnestra, wife of Agamemnon, and her surviving children Orestes and Electra. There are the tales of Ajax, driven mad over the armour of Achilles, and of Hecuba and the other Trojan women. The fall of Troy even reaches forward in time through Aeneas, the surviving Trojan prince, to the founding of Rome.
Liz: So many of the most well-known myths feature the bad behaviour of the gods. Zeus in particularly is always seducing mortal women (with or without their consent) and unsurprisingly it’s always the women who get punished by his wife, Hera. So, my favourite myths are those around Hephaestus, who gives some of the other gods a small taste of their own medicine. When he discovers his wife Aphrodite is cheating on him with Mars, god of war, he traps the lovers beneath an almost invisible net of his own creation. And he punishes Hera, his unloving mother, by giving her a gold throne which holds her fast as soon as she sits down on it. To be fair, she did try to kill him!
What do you love about the fantasy genre?
Liz: What I love most is the possibility of bringing together all your favourite things in one book. You want to write a story combining underwater cities with space travel, pirates, and dragons? If you’re writing fantasy, you can do it.
Kate: I love the lack of boundaries. In fantasy, you can travel into the past or the future, into other worlds, universes, and dimensions, or beyond life and death. The only limit is your imagination.
What do you hope your readers will take away from this latest novel?
Kate: By including such a variety of myths and gods we hope to give readers a real sense of the vast scope of ancient mythology. The most important gods and the most popular stories are well known, of course, but there is so much more that people might not be aware of. Eos, goddess of the dawn, for example, who had a predilection for kidnapping handsome young men. Or the founding of Thebes by Cadmus and Harmonia. Also, the myths aren’t set in stone: they evolved over hundreds of years, and many exist in multiple versions. We’ve tried to reflect this by weaving ancient tales together and creating our own story out of them.
Liz: We also hope readers will take away a love of our writing, and maybe even buy some more of our books!
What are you working on next?
Liz: We have more far more ideas than time, so there are a few different options we’re considering. Not that we’re able to talk about any of them right now, of course…
Kate: But we can say that the thing we’re really hoping to write next is a little bit different, and we’ve very excited about it!