*Who are/were you? I am Helen, Queen of Sparta, you would know me as Helen of Troy. I was once the wife of King Menelaus, and lover and wife to Alexandrous – Paris, Prince of Troy. I am technically a demi-god – the daughter of a goddess. It makes no difference here. Such divine blood is at best worthless, and at worst a curse in itself.
Who is your ‘lover’ in Hell? Whoever bears the Golden Apple. It’s my curse. The machinations of our goddesses tricked Paris into loving me. Athena, Hera and Aphrodite offered him power, courage in war and many victories, or the most beautiful woman in the world for his wife. Paris had to present the Golden Apple to the most beautiful of the goddesses. Goddesses don’t take kindly to being thwarted, or a mortal man finding another more comely. It didn’t end well. Paris – being a man – thought with his loins and gave the Apple to Aphrodite. Unfortunately, the most beautiful woman in the world was married to the king of Sparta, whose brother was the feared Agamemnon. They were both rather annoyed when I ran away….Men cannot settle things in the way a woman can and so battle was declared. It is said our elopement caused a decade of war, thousands of deaths and the fall of the city-state of Troy, and thus Greek supremacy in that area. I was a legend, and unfortunately, I still am.
His Satanic Majesty has decreed that the ‘Trojan Whore’ is a lay for any man bearing the Apple. I have no clue where it came from, maybe it followed me. One does not ask such questions here. So I am the lover of all-comers – if you pardon the pun. Old, young, handsome or ugly it makes no difference. They all look like poor Deiphobus, whose death is also laid at my door.
I cannot have Paris, Menelaus hates me and so I am the lay of the netherworld.
Love in hell, isn’t that a contradiction? How does this work? It doesn’t. Love is anathema in hell – and sex is… unpleasant. There are scorpions and other such creatures in all sorts of bizarre places. Humans will be humans and try to cling on to what they knew in life. It fails.
Who are your friends/allies here? I would not exactly call them friends, but I am here with my half-sister Clytemnestra – wife of Agamemnon; Penelope, Queen of Ithaca – the wife of Odysseus, and Queen Dido of Carthage. We don’t get along, but we do understand one another and have a shared past. Clytemnestra hates me but to be fair she hates everyone. Your husband murdering your daughter for a capricious god and then going to war for ten years leaves one a little bitter. She murdered her husband, you know, when he returned. Now she really loves him and wants him. He cannot abide her. And then there’s Dido….
Eternity – that’s a damned long time. How do you spend the endless years here? Time becomes meaningless after a while. There isn’t really day and night, or months and years. It’s hell – it just goes on and on. I try and avoid meeting men, I chat with Penelope and Cly, when I have to. I read. I try and work out why I am in this Hell and not Hades, which is my Hell. I relive the horrors of war.
Hell covers all eras and technologies, there are many hells within Hell. How have you adjusted to this strange world? Some would say we were as far from your technology as it’s possible and still be civilised. In Hell it’s different. Nothing works properly for a start but it ranges from spear and sword to guns, flying machines and the ‘craplet’ communication devices. One learns to adapt. As you say eternity is a very long time.
Why do YOU think you’re in Hell? Life’s a bitch, so they say. Love certainly is. This is not my hell. I was the pawn of meddling gods and loved unwisely. Many women take a lover, but usually, it doesn’t lead to a monumental war.
What are your greatest fears/desires here? My greatest fear is this will truly be eternal – there will be no respite for my sins.
My desires – I’d like to be alone.
British-born A. L. Butcher is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as ‘evocative’. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.
Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror, including the Legacy of the Mask series. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.
She also curates for a number of speculative fiction themed book bundles on BundleRabbit.
Her short novella Outside the Walls, co-written with Diana L. Wicker received a Chill with a Book Reader’s Award in 2017.
Alex is also proud to be a writer for– where her work features in Heroika: Dragon Eaters; and Lovers in Hell – part of the acclaimed Heroes in Hell series. http://www.theperseidpress.com/
Social Media links
Amazon Author Page http://amzn.to/2hK33OM
Smashwords Author Page https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ALB123
Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/LightBeyondtheStorm/
Indiebound Author Pahe https://www.indiebound.org/search/book?keys=author%3AButcher%2C%20A.%20L.
Library of Erana Blog http://bit.ly/Blog2iAWL3o
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Tell us about your story for this edition. I love mythology, especially Greek and Roman myth and so I decided to see if I could entwine my knowledge of the Trojan War and it’s aftermath to the world of Hell. From a modern perspective there were a lot of ‘sins’ committed – lust, jealously, arrogance, murder, infanticide, theft – you name it someone did it. But usually we hear of the tales from the point of view of the menfolk – but what about the women? Helen ran off with a lover, then left another lover to the ravages of her irate hubby, Penelope lied, tricked and flouted convention, Clytemnestra took a lover then murdered her husband and poor Dido committed suicide for love. All of them earned a place in hell. And all of them killed, deceived or died because of love.
I have tried to keep the storytelling ‘mythic’ as I love to read such tales.
How did you become involved with this project? Some years ago I got chatting with an author whose book I’d read and thought was awesome – that book was I, the Sun and the author was Janet Morris. Social media is great for bringing together people who’d otherwise never meet. Janet read some of my own work, and liked it, and my style, and asked me if I’d consider getting involved with her Heroika project. I was delighted! One doesn’t get an offer like that every day. That led to being involved with Hell – this is the first volume I have written for but I have run ‘Hell Week’ on my blog for the last few years. It’s a lot of fun.
The world which Janet and Chris have created is very versatile, but also darkly humorous – and really appeals to me. Anything is possible, nothing goes according to plan, and famous personages find themselves in situations which range from amusing to downright diabolical. Where else would Napoleon and Wellington be neighbours, Shakespeare write for Satan’s amusement, Frankenstein and his creation work with Quasimodo, Civil War era soldiers ride tanks, and ancients fly helicopters? It’s a creative writer’s dream.
Writing for a shared world is challenging, how do you meet that challenge? Although Hell is versatile there are rules, and a writer needs to understand that, and do his or her research. I have read most of the recent Hell volumes and they give a great insight into the workings, landscapes and characters of Hell. A writer has to get permission to use a character and scenario – there’s the risk someone else has already used the character – and the scenario may not be appropriate. There’s quite a lot of terminology to learn. Not every story is accepted.
What are you currently working on? Book IV of my fantasy series, a story about a demonic bicycle (yes really), some more Kitchen Imps tales, poetry, and the next Hell story…. Not all at once – but I dip in and out depending on my mood, my health and my inspiration.
What are your views on authors offering free books? A few years ago I ran a debate on the Mythic Scribes forum about this very subject – the ‘fors’ and the ‘againsts’ were interviewed and we gave both sides. It was interesting, as many authors have strong views. I also chatted to readers about it. Some readers love freebies – especially from an author with whom they are unfamiliar – and some think it devalues the book. If it was any good why give it away.
My own thoughts – I have downloaded and read some great free indie books, and some rubbish ones. But I have also bought plenty of books, indie or otherwise which sucked. And of course, some which were great. Free doesn’t mean bad – it just means free.
It’s a useful way of attracting readers and promoting the rest of an author’s work. But it does need to be used correctly. There’s not a lot of point using it if you only have the one book – but again that depends on what an author wants from his or her book. And keep in mind a reader who likes the book they downloaded six months ago may go on to buy another of an author’s work in another six months, not everyone buys or reads a book immediately. I know I don’t – ask my kindle and the five shelves of books in the house….
What marketing tips/writing advice can you offer other authors? Decide what you want from it – and be realistic. Many if not most indies don’t make much money. If you are writing to make a living then there are jobs which pay way better and have quicker returns. Most of them in fact. That said if you are writing because you love to write then go for it!
Marketing is hard work, time-consuming and often futile. There is not a single strategy for success. Some things work sometimes and not others, some things have good returns and some things don’t and it’s not the same for everyone. If you have a limited budget there are free/lowcost options – facebook, Twitter, blogging, interviews, Linked in etc but each of these have their limitations. How many times have YOU bought something from a Twitter link? I never have. Although I do find a lot of books via Facebook and blogging.
Write because you love it, and you can’t not write. Don’t give a damn whether what you’re writing is the next ‘big thing’ because it probably won’t be next month
If you could have a dinner party with any man and woman from anywhere and any when who would invite and what would you eat? Sir David Attenborough, Homer, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Mary Shelley, JR Tolkein, Terry Pratchett, Queen Elisabeth I. What would we eat? My mother’s roast beef, Yorkshire puds and cake.
Which 10 books would you save to keep you sane after the apocalypse? (Only 10 allowed).
- The Lord of the Rings
- Watership Down
- The Count of Monte Christo
- I, the Sun
- The Sacred Band
- War of the Worlds
- Complete Works of Shakespeare
- Phantom of the Opera
- The Odyssey
What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? Don’t. Really just don’t. Particularly on unfavourable reviews. You’ll do more damage than one or two snarky reviews. Move on. It’s just one reader’s opinion and you can’t please everyone.
Which books/movies/plays have influenced your life? Star Wars, The Odyssey, Schindler’s List, The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I, the Sun, Watership Down, The Count of Monte Christo,
In these days of movies and video games are books really influential? Of course. Reading a book is a totally different experience. In a movie, the images are there – laid out and it’s someone else’s physical interpretation – in a book, an author can describe something but it’s the reader’s mind which sees it. Example – I watch Star Trek – I know exactly what the Starship Enterprise looks like – she is there on the screen. I see what everyone else sees (give or take). Had I not seen a film but I had read the book what I imagine the ship to look like is my interpretation, and the next reader and the next. In a movie we think – wow look at those special effects – in a book, our mind and imagination ARE the special effects.
What do you think are the top three inventions/discoveries in human history and why?
- The wheel (obviously). Add to cart/logs and bingo you don’t have to carry heavy stuff
- The Internet – you can find out anything about anything, meet and befriend people on the other side of the world, run businesses from your lounge, buy things and never have to go into a supermarket.
- Writing – I’m a writer. I have to say that.
Apart from that:
Electricity, inoculations, domestication, steam power, space flight, flight, refrigeration, art, music, bricks, steel, modern medicine, anti-biotics, fire, maths.
If I was asked the three top detrimental things ‘we’ have invented/discovered/manipulate:
Wars are usually fought over one or other of these.
A Hand of Four Queens – features in Lovers in Hell (Heroes in Hell)
Amazon UK https://amzn.to/2Mlga3e