The Brussels Writers’ Circle features members who are hard at work chipping away at various monumental and epoch-making pieces of literature. Or so we would hope. In this continuing segment, we interview member Lida Papasokrati about her current masterpiece-in-progress.
First off, what is it, novel/short story/non-fiction and what is it called?
It’s a short story called Lionskin, and it’s a fantasy retelling of the myth of Hercules.
Where and when does the action take place?
All the action takes place in a ”faraway kingdom, a long time ago”. Even though in the myth the adventures of Hercules take place in ancient Greece, I wanted to give my version a bit of a fairy tale feel by being vague about the time and place.
Which, if any, of Christopher Booker’s ‘Seven Basic Plots’ are you following?
I’d say it’s a cross between ‘The Quest’ and ‘Rags to Riches’. Lionskin, the protagonist, is a just a boy from a village at the beginning of the story, but if he completes the twelve tasks he could become the next king, so I think there are elements of both plot types present.
Why a myth retelling, and why Hercules in particular?
I’m Greek and spent most of my childhood in Athens, so Greek mythology was all around me growing up. The myth of Hercules was never my favourite, though – I guess I just wasn’t impressed by a big strong man going around hitting things with a club!
But then, a few years ago, I read the myth again, and I realised that there were a lot of little details that weren’t that well known – such as the fact that the goddess Athena had helped Hercules in several of his labours. I thought, what if she wasn’t a goddess, but an actual human girl?
How long have you been working on it?
The story has been sitting in my head for about a year and a half and I would occasionally write down a scene or make notes, but I only started writing it ”for real” three months ago.
A work of great length?
For a short story, it’s actually on the long side – it’ll be over 12,000 words when it’s finished.
And where are you at now? Where are you going with it?
I’m about halfway through and I’m reading out to the group as I write. This is technically a second draft I’m working on, but the first draft was much shorter, so I’m adding to it as a rewrite. Then, when it’s finished – I’m going to rewrite it again!
How did the BWC help you in the course of your work?
I don’t think I would have written the story if it hadn’t been for the BWC – not for a long time, at least! When I first joined the group back in January, I had a lot of story ideas (and a lot of notebooks filled with outlines, character names and first chapters!) but very little experience in actually writing – and finishing – a story. Reading and commenting on other people’s work has taught me a lot about the actual process of writing. And of course, getting feedback while I’m working on the story has been tremendous help!
What was the best feedback you got from the group?
I’ve received so many great tips and ideas from BWC members that it’s impossible to single out a particular one!
We assume that it will one day be published to universal acclaim and that a Hollywood blockbuster will be made from it. Which actors will play the principal roles?
I think Elizabeth Henstridge or Gemma Arterton would be great for the part of the princess. As for Lionskin, for some reason in my head I’ve always pictured him as Eddie Redmayne!
Thanks and good luck!