In my last entry I wrote about how I originally embarked on writing the (completed) manuscript I'm now calling Murdering Zeus for Fun and Prophet. At the time I began, I only made a few veiled comments about what I was working on. "Somewhat less serious" was the phrase I used when comparing it to my previous work, but I didn't mention anything at the time about Greek gods.
Though it was slow going at first, I had a great time writing it. I loved writing my first two manuscripts of course, but giving myself the freedom to inject more of my sense of humor into the writing (and the different "voice" used) added to the fun. I also wrote Murdering Zeus much faster than the other two. While part of that is due to greater discipline on my part, I suspect the humor gets some credit as well. By the end of November 2008 I'd dreamed up characters and the general outline, and plunged in to the actual writing. Aside from a bit of a slow-down during the holidays, things were going well.
Then, when I was about a quarter of the way through writing the sucker, I wandered through a bookstore and saw something that just about gave me a heart attack: a display for Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
I don't know if you've ever come up with an idea that you were absolutely in love with--not only for the idea itself but for the perception that it was actually pretty unique--but that was how I felt about Murdering Zeus. Suddenly here on the shelves was a book that seemed to have used my idea--independently to be sure, but nonetheless--and made it to publication before mine could. I think it was the first book in the series, but at this point I don't remember.
Thieves! Murder! Fire! I couldn't even bear to pick it up just then. (I may have also been on my way to the restroom after a period of writing in the bookstore's cafe, I suppose.) I went home, grumbling, frustrated, cheated, angry, hungry (unrelated), and despairing. Finally, I managed to pluck up the courage to Google the sucker and see just what the book was about.
More or less, anyway. Some comfort was the fact that Percy Jackson, with its Harry Potter-esque hero, was aimed at a younger audience (most of the mortal characters in Murdering Zeus are in their mid- to late-twenties). Further comfort was that it seemed to play everything straight rather than having my own comedic take on things. I did note later that both books contain a character named Thalia (again, a bit of a heart-stopper to learn that), but they're different Thalias. According to Wikipedia, Percy Jackson's Thalia has a mortal mother and is "a very skilled fighter" where as my Thalia is the mythological Muse of comedy (and, more recently, science fiction) and can't hardly fight to save her life. (Incidentally, Thalia is one of the two mythological characters to appear in "Playing with Hubris" along with Apollo.)
I like my Thalia better, but then I'm biased.
At that point, I decided that I'd consider it a blessing. Percy Jackson is a successful series. It even got a movie. (2014 note: Two movies now, though Nathan Fillion was deeply miscast. I pictured him while writing Dionysus in Murdering Zeus.) Anything that raised public interest in Greek myth can only help me. I feel the same way about the recent Clash of the Titans remake, as terrible as that was. (It's getting a sequel. The mythology fan in me shudders at the thought, but the bit of me that cares about marketing is cheering for it.) By the way...
HADES =/= THE DEVIL!!
Sorry. Had to get that out. (Or, as Hermes tells a group of reporters in Murdering Zeus, "He's actually a decent enough chap. A bit inexorable, a tad strict, sure, but it's his job to keep the dead out of the world of the living. You don’t want someone like me in charge of that. One good distraction and wham! Zombie apocalypse!")
So, as I've said, it's now complete. I'm shopping it around to agents and trying to find a happy medium between being bothered that I'm going to appear to have just been jumping on the bandwagon of existing mythology franchises out there and being thankful that they're creating a market.
I take comfort in the fact that mine may be the only one that has flying poisonous feral kittens, Ninjas Templar, and the Poseidon uttering the phrase, "This cannot be solved with baked goods!"
Also, immortal Zeus is assassinated in the first chapter, so hopefully that make at least some of you curious.
"Lord Hades, you know better than to bring toys to the Dodekatheon. Pass it here. You'll get it back after the meeting."
-Hera, Murdering Zeus for Fun and Prophet