If you haven’t noticed already, I’m a huge fan of mythology. My second grade teacher gave me a book of myths when I was in her class and I have loved them ever since. The first myth I read in that book was Orpheus and Eurydice (still one of my favorites) and I loved it. I devoured Ovid’s Metamorphosis in high school, and took a mythology class in college even though I was a biochem major (I also took a creative writing course, what do you know?). Greek myths are my favorite, although I know my way around the Egyptian, Roman and Norse pantheon as well. And I have decided that Apollo is my favorite god.
It’s something about the sun (although he’s not actually the sun god, he is associated with the sun, especially in pre-Greek Mesopotamia) and music (he played the Lyre) and healing (the father of the father of modern medicine) and premonition (his Temple at Delphi was once the leading place in the world to go for oracles) and being a twin (Artemis/Diana is his twin sister). He’s the god of all the things I really like. He not necessarily the nicest god in the Greek Pantheon (none of them are known as being particularly nice), but for some reason he resonates with me and I found myself wondering what happens to a god that isn’t worshiped any longer. It’s mostly because of Viva La Vida by Coldplay. I was listening to that song and thinking about gods who are no longer worshiped and this idea popped into my head about a current day Apollo story. Since my favorite Apollo myth is the Daphne myth I decided to do a retelling of that. Of course it would be set in Olympia, Washington. Of course Zeus would be the governor (he is the head of the gods, after all). Of course Apollo would have a twin sister and a mutual dislike of Eros. But how do you turn Daphne into a tree in a modern day story?
I didn’t want to turn Apollo and Daphne into a paranormal YA set in Washington State (sound familiar, anyone?), so I decided to take everything mythological out of the story and tell it with symbolism instead. And I think it worked out rather nicely. Eros’ arrows are all verbal, the kids aren’t gods but are named after gods (because if you lived in Olympia why wouldn’t you name your kids after gods?) and Daphne crashes her car into a bay laurel tree in the end. I added as many mythological elements as I could (Hyacinth, Niobe, and Psyche’s myths all play some part) but kept it very realistic. It was a fun challenge.
I’m thinking of doing the same thing with the Orpheus and Eurydice story someday, where Eurydice is trapped in the “underworld” of a cult or drug abuse. Orpheus has to bring her back out again. Of course, most myths did not have happy endings, so this one might be a bit of a killjoy too.