As I get older, I’ve discovered that ruts are more frequent than they used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I loved a good routine when I was a kid. I adored schedules. I like to plan ahead, and I shudder a bit when plans change at the last minute, but as I’ve gotten older and acquired some long-term illnesses, the ruts have a tendency to pile up.
Medication tapering off? Let’s wait a little while to change it, give the old one a chance to work again. (Like that makes sense!) Want to go out for a special dinner? Maybe next week. Tonight I have laundry to do. Routines are comfortable, even if that comfort turns into boring. It’s easy and safe.
Lately, though, I’ve been trying to break out of my ruts, to try new paths. After all, there will always be more work to do. My fresh perspective prompted me to write Coils. Well, that and my love of all things mythology. (My favorite classes in college.) Cressida is a mortal girl who has little in her life but study. Her aunt June is a world traveler, an adventurer, and her disappearance shakes Cressida out of her routine and leads her to the mystical Underworld. In the Underworld, Medusa has also been stuck in a cycle, a millennia long slog of revenge and hatred. Together, they can make each other’s dreams come true, just probably not in the way they think.
I’ve long wanted to tackle the Medusa myth. She and her two sisters, the infamous Gorgons, were demigoddesses long before the story that had Medusa cursed by Athena. They were fearsome, snake-haired, winged women, and their faces still adorn some ruins as protective symbols, a threat for anyone who entered with ill intent. Then, when later religions took over—like those that favored the Olympians—Medusa was demoted to a monster, a prize for the hero Perseus to slay. I wanted to take her back to that earlier form, still slain by Perseus, but a powerful figure in her own right.
Cressida is my everywoman. We’ve all been her, so stuck in our ruts that we don’t see how unhappy they’re making us. And what better way to shake her up than a sexy, snake-haired demigoddess? I think she would give all of us a wake-up call.
Even though my illnesses will be with me the rest of my life, I’m grateful I’ll always have my books to help me out of my ruts. They take me new places, from fantasy cities to the depths of space to the magic and mystery of the Greek Underworld. And I’m always happy to have company. Anytime you need a lift out of your routine, we’ll go together. You never know what monsters and magic await you. There could be a goddess in your future. Or something you least expect.
Barbara Ann Wright writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories when not ranting on her blog. The Pyramid Waltz was one of Tor.com’s Reviewer’s Choice books of 2012, was a Foreword Review BOTYA Finalist, a Goldie finalist, and won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Fantasy. It also made Book Riot’s 100 Must-Read Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels By Female Authors. A Kingdom Lost was a Goldie finalist and won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Fantasy Romance.