#NewRelease Gods Galore by Rupert Stanbury
Today I have the great pleasure of hosting Rupert Stanbury on the blog. He has written a fascinating guest post introducing us to his debut novel Gods Galore.
Incidentally, I noticed Rupert is a fellow Manchester United fan. If he's like me, he's yearning for a return to the days of Sir Alex.
AN INTRODUCTION TO GODS GALORE
Gods Galore is a comedy / fantasy about the Greek Gods in the 21st Century AD.
It was inspired by Homer and Virgil, the two great classical writers of the ancient world. Homer is thought to have written the Iliad and the Odyssey in the eighth century BC, while Virgil wrote the Aeneid about seven hundred years later in the first century BC. Both writers were concerned with the fall of Troy towards the end of the second millennium BC and the events which took place subsequently.
I first read these three ancient classics as a young adult. Many years later I decided it was time for a re-read, which triggered a renewed fascination in the various Olympian gods that are central to the three stories. This got me thinking about what these gods might be up to three thousand years later and so I decided to record various tales of their adventures in Gods Galore, my debut novel.
In writing Gods Galore, I decided it should be both a fantasy and a comedy. I could find no better inspiration for the humorous aspects of the book than Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, which I have always found to be fun reads whenever I want a break from more serious literature. So, it’s probably fair to say that Gods Galore is a mixture of Homer, Virgil, and Terry Pratchett; an unusual combination, but I’ll let the reader decide if it works.
By way of historical background to the book, we need to consider the time before Troy fell when three gods, who were also brothers, drew lots to decide who should reign in the various parts of their joint empire. Poseidon drew the Sea, Hades claimed the Underworld and Zeus became God of the Sky, which also included the Land. Since Mount Olympus was in the sky, this became Zeus’s home, and it was also the place where many of the other gods lived.
It should come as no surprise that over the past three thousand years, many of these gods have both changed and developed in parallel with humankind. In Gods Galore we now find that Bacchus is no longer just the God of Wine but has also taken responsibility for all alcoholic drinks, especially beer. Additionally, he runs a pub which is at the heart of much of Olympus’s social life. The goddesses Iris and Hebe have decided not to live in grand palaces but in a modern bungalow, where live Premier League football matches are regularly screened. Artemis, while still the Goddess of the Hunt, has become an ardent feminist as well as a supporter of other progressive causes, including ‘new’ political concepts such as democracy.
Some things, however, never change. Zeus still has his thunderbolts and continues to chase after attractive females. Wherever there are references to ‘hanky panky’ or ‘extra-curricular activities’, Zeus will inevitably be involved. Mars, as the God of War, continues to create trouble and strife both in the world and on Olympus, often to the general consternation of his fellow gods.
The relationships between the gods and humankind are at the heart of the tales in the book. The Underworld is filling up all the time and Hades needs to find useful employment for the new arrivals. Historical figures such as Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan are able to employ their former skills in the Torturing Department. Others work in the kitchens, the mines and on building sites. A few people are seconded from the Underworld to Olympus or Poseidon’s realm to assist the gods. Bacchus is fortunate to have Mistress Quickly from Shakespeare’s historical plays to act as hostess of his pub; the former French queen Marie Antoinette and Dickens’s Mr Bumble, together with his wife, are members of Zeus’s household, and Poseidon’s cavern has a Japanese butler and a South Carolinian maid working there. In addition, there are a number of other new characters, many of whom turn out to be particular catalysts for change, especially in the lives of the older gods.
Most gods have both Greek and Roman names. In writing Gods Galore, I decided to use their Greek names with two exceptions. These are Mars, the God of War, and Bacchus, the God of Wine, where I have used their Roman names because, on balance, I believe they are more generally recognized than their Greek equivalents of Ares and Dionysus.
Finally, I accept that there may be some classical scholars, who might take exception to my portrayal of various gods and goddesses. This could relate to their personalities, their roles or even their powers. I would ask such critics to accept that Gods Galore is about the gods in the twenty first century AD, and that the changes to humankind in the past three thousand years will in part be mirrored in the lives of the gods. I wrote this book with the sole purpose of being an entertaining read; if it achieves that objective, it has done its job. Put another way, I do not claim to have written the fourth great classic about the ancient world, although if it is still being read in another thousand years, perhaps its status could be revised then. However, that is for future generations.
About the Author
Rupert was born in Manchester and lived in the North-West of England long enough
to become a lifetime Manchester United supporter.
In his teens he moved with his parents to Central London where he has lived for much of his adult life. After reading Economics at Cambridge University he had a business career encompassing finance, property and marketing.
His interests include regular visits to the gym, travelling, the theatre, socializing and reading. As well as Manchester United, his other lifelong interest has been books, having been given a full set of Dickens's works at the tender age of twelve. In fact, it was a recent re-read of some of these classics, together with Homer's and Virgil's great epics, which inspired him to try his hand at becoming a writer himself. Gods Galore is his first novel.