It’s June and that means it’s time for another year of Pride Month spotlights! I’m so excited to spotlight Wrath Goddess Sing by Maya Deane and share the interview with the author!
Welcome Maya! Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Can you start off by introducing yourself?
Hi! I’m Maya Deane, author of Wrath Goddess Sing. I was raised by a linguist and grew up on a steady diet of Classics, mythology, and fantasy novels.
How would you describe Wrath Goddess Sing in one sentence?
Summoned to a great war by the gods, the trans demigoddess Achilles fights desperately to protect her found family and free herself from the gods’ bloodspattered schemes.
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of Wrath Goddess Sing?
Achilles, princess of Phthia, who is hiding on the island of Skyros, where trans women like her are welcomed with open arms.
Patroklos, her beloved cousin, the one man who has always understood and loved her. (Trivia for mythology buffs: Patroklos’s father Menoitios and Achilles’s grandfather Aiakos were both sons of Aigina, which makes them first cousins once removed – but who’s counting?).
Meryapi, Patroklos’s Egyptian wife, who deftly defuses Achilles’ jealousy and befriends the stormy barbarian girl.
Athena, the Silent One, a terrifying owl goddess who claims to be Achilles’s true mother and offers her wonderful things if only she will fight.
Helen, the Apple of the Sun, an immortal demigoddess at the heart of the gods’ terrible designs.
What representation will readers find in Wrath Goddess Sing?
The purpose of this story is to be, not specifically to represent, but that said, there is a trans woman protagonist; three trans woman supporting characters; a trans man as a major supporting character; most of the core characters express varying combinations of bisexuality; most would not be considered white in 21st century America, but this is 3000 years before the invention of modern whiteness, so I don’t think that particularly counts as representation. Late Bronze Age Achaian, Egyptian, and Hittite/Luwian societies are portrayed with some care, because it’s impossible to fully understand these characters without knowing the richness of their world.
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
Yes. In writing, I discover what kind of people, operating under what constraints, would choose such a journey.
Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?
“Tell me what the gods want,” Achilles whispered back, maneuvering to pin Helen’s hands together, twisting, trying to get the larger woman under control. She was too close to Helen, and all her instincts screamed to get her distance; she could imagine half a dozen ways to break free and disarm herself, but the golden-eyed woman just stood there frozen, swallowing hard. Of course. She had never had a dagger to her throat. “Me,” Helen whispered. “Everyone wants me. So let the strongest have me. The world will be my dowry.”
What is something readers will find in Wrath Goddess Sing that they may not realize based on the synopsis?
There are incredible chariot battles and divine intrigue, as you’d expect, but one thing that struck me rereading was the incredibly mouth-watering and disturbing feasts, because Achilles is a strangely mindful eater but also incredibly hungry.
What’s something you hope readers will take away from Wrath Goddess Sing?
We live in the shadow of the gods, playing out the same tortured games that we have been playing out since the bronze age, and yet somehow we have managed, in the midst of apocalypse after apocalypse, war upon war, to carve out space for love and tenderness and beauty.
What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed Wrath Goddess Sing?
- Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became The Sun
- Tamsyn Muir’s Locked Tomb books
- Tanith Lee’s Tales From the Flat Earth pentalogy
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
Sure! I’m currently writing a retelling of the myths of Joseph in Egypt set during the height of the late bronze age Egyptian colonial empire, exploring divided families and reconciliation, imperialism and resistance, the nature of power, and the possibility of forgiveness. Also, forthcoming in the anthology Fit for the Gods, a story about an Amazon queen and her own personal Titanomachy.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Drawing on ancient texts and modern archeology to reveal the trans woman’s story hidden underneath the well-known myths of The Iliad, Maya Deane’s Wrath Goddess Sing weaves a compelling, pitilessly beautiful vision of Achilles’ vanished world, perfect for fans of Song of Achilles and the Inheritance trilogy.
The gods wanted blood. She fought for love.
Achilles has fled her home and her vicious Myrmidon clan to live as a woman with the kallai, the transgender priestesses of Great Mother Aphrodite. When Odysseus comes to recruit the “prince” Achilles for a war against the Hittites, she prepares to die rather than fight as a man. However, her divine mother, Athena, intervenes, transforming her body into the woman’s body she always longed for, and promises her everything: glory, power, fame, victory in war, and, most importantly, a child born of her own body. Reunited with her beloved cousin, Patroklos, and his brilliant wife, the sorceress Meryapi, Achilles sets out to war with a vengeance.
But the gods–a dysfunctional family of abusive immortals that have glutted on human sacrifices for centuries–have woven ancient schemes more blood-soaked and nightmarish than Achilles can imagine. At the center of it all is the cruel, immortal Helen, who sees Achilles as a worthy enemy after millennia of ennui and emptiness. In love with her newfound nemesis, Helen sets out to destroy everything and everyone Achilles cherishes, seeking a battle to the death.
An innovative spin on a familiar tale, this is the Trojan War unlike anything ever told, and an Achilles whose vulnerability is revealed by the people she chooses to fight…and chooses to trust.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maya Deane first retold the Iliad at the age of six.
Athena was the protagonist; all six pages were typed up on a Commodore 64; there were many spelling errors. (She has only doubled down since then.)
A graduate of the University of Maryland and the Rutgers-Camden MFA, Maya lives with her fiancée of many years, their dear friend, and two cats named after gods. She is a trans woman, bisexual, and fond of spears, books, and jewelry. Aphrodite smiles upon her.