This month marks the release of MEDUSA’S SISTERS, a novel by Lauren J. A. Bear. I had a chance to connect and talk to Bear a little bit about her book, her favorite mythological figure, and of course her top 5 geek loves!
Hello, and thank you so much for taking time to chat with us! We are excited for your new novel and wanted to ask you a little bit more about your writing and the things that inspire you!
I am so thrilled to be chatting with y’all!
First, we love a good mythological retelling. What inspired you to choose this particular character and story?
I love recentering stories, taking them away from either the traditional storyteller or the accepted protagonist. It’s a way of transferring power. And characters like the Gorgons – famous because one of them loses her head so a wannabe hero can have a moment – definitely deserve a more empowering narrative. I love reclaiming female perspectives, villain perspectives, and when the villain is also female?! Even better. My goal as a writer, but also as a human, is to advocate for compassion. Exposure is essential for understanding others. We need access to stories – underrepresented ones, unheard ones, stories from so-called villains, from scapegoats, from outsiders – to be more empathetic.
Everybody knows Medusa, or at least the image of her – the head, the face, the hair. Very few know she had sisters. Writing their story checked a lot of boxes for me. There are opportunities for compassion, but also catharsis and subversion.
What is your favorite mythological or legendary figure?
Definitely Scheherazade! The ultimate storyteller and bad ass. Witty, well-read, brave. A true queen.
When you’re writing based on stories that have such long foundations, how did you choose which elements to include or elaborate on versus maybe altering things to give a different perspective?
For a character as iconic as Medusa, there are surprisingly few details about her life. Most of her references in the mythological canon specifically relate to Perseus’s hero’s journey. And if there’s little about Medusa in the primary source material, you can imagine how much I found on the other two Gorgons. I was faithful to the commonly accepted details – Medusa’s parents and siblings, her murder, Poseidon, Athena, the curse — because there are precious few. Otherwise, I used my imagination to create plausible adventures for the sisters that still respected the chronology of myths. Perseus, after all, is one of the earliest heroes so his encounter with the Gorgons is waaay before Hercules or the events of the Trojan War or Athens enters its Golden Age.
I always knew this was going to be a story about the female voice and female agency, about the particular plight of women in antiquity. I included popular myths (Semele, Leto) and characters of my own creation (Charmion, Ligeia), which allowed the Gorgons to explore themes of sex and power, motherhood, and legacy.
We’re a geeky fandom community that connects by writing letters to each other about our “geek loves” (or, the things we geek out about). If you had to choose, wheat are your top 5 geek loves?
Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Anakin Skywalker. Cersei Lannister. Natalie from Yellowjackets. Disney’s Robin Hood.
Thanks again for chatting with us, and congratulations on the new release!
Thank you so much! It is truly a dream come true to bring Medusa’s Sisters into the world. For all of you who want to write but aren’t sure: YOU CAN DO THIS. I believe in you, keep going!
About LAUREN J. A. BEAR
LAUREN J. A. BEAR was born in Boston and raised in Long Beach. After studying English at UCLA and Education at LMU, she taught middle-school Humanities for over a decade — and survived! She is a teaching fellow for the Holocaust Center for Humanity, and lives in Seattle with her husband and three young children. She likes crossword puzzles and being on or near the water without getting wet.
About MEDUSA’S SISTERS
MEDUSA’S SISTERS is a stunning Greek myth retelling that shows us the story of Medusa from a new perspective—through the eyes of her two often-forgotten sisters, Euryale and Stheno. The novel was inspired by the author’s love for her daughter, never wanting her daughter (or any woman) to be an appendage to someone else’s story. Like Madeline Miller did for Circe and Jennifer Saint did for Ariadne, Lauren J. A. Bear gives a voice to the silenced and overlooked in this unforgettable historical fantasy.