I hosted Nancy DiMauro on the blog last year and had great fun reading her contribution to Musa/Urania’s all-female-penned quirky spec-fic compilation Jack Gorman Got Cut by a Girl. She’s got a great voice and a lot of wit, so I’m pleased to plug her newer work today, Apollo Rising.
[Today we’re talking to the Sun God himself, Apollo, about his story.]
Thank you for coming to chat with us today. Why do you think Nancy DiMauro choose you to represent her?
I think it’s the blonde curls. [Absently flicks a lock of his hair.] She’s got a thing for them, and being the Sun god and all, I traded an extra hour of sunlight for the opportunity. She wanted to give her kids one last day of summer. Fair trade.
Tell us a little about yourself?
The family thing’s a bit complicated. I have a twin sister, Artemis. You so don’t want to see her when she’s mad. When we were children we had to protect our mother, Leto, a Titan, from Hera’s wrath since Zeus is our father. When Hera sent her pet, the Python, after Mom, I killed the beast when I was only four days old. We gods grow up so quickly. [Smiles.] We celebrated Python’s death with games. It was there Cupid shot me with a gold arrow. [Runs hand through hair and furrows brow.] I’ve never been what you would call lucky in love.
What is your birth date?
We didn’t really have calendars back then, and the passing of the years doesn’t mean as much to an immortal as it does to you. I have a number of feast days but tend to think of my “birthday” as the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.
Where do you live? What is it about that area that drew you there?
I have houses all over the world, and of course, my palace on Olympus. The place I consider home is just outside Old Towne Alexandria in Virginia. I love that it’s so close to the Potomac River, which reminds me a bit of the Styx. Olde Town is an eclectic mix of old and new, and that appeals to me.
What do you wish people would know about you?
That I’m not my father. I’ve only ever loved Daphne, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t care about my lovers through the eons, and most of them didn’t end with bad fates. The ones that did. . . they still haunt me.
If you loved Daphne so much, why did you wait until now to try to break the curse?
Fate is a funny thing. It unfolds as it will. A person needs to be ready to embrace whatever Fate has planned for him. For me, that means a few thousand lessons in humility and asking for help. Arrogance, you see, [Shrugs.] it’s my fatal flaw. I wouldn’t be part of the Greek Pantheon without one.
What music do you listen to?
God of Music, remember? I listen to all of it. I just love when one of the Muses prods someone into doing the unexpected.
Will we be seeing more of you or are you stepping out of the lime light?
I’m hoping to step out of the lime light, but I doubt the Fates will allow it.
What is your perfect evening?
Evening is Artemis’s time. She’s the moon goddess. Now, my perfect solar eclipse? That’s a different story.
I’m an aspect of the sun, and light refracts. This means at any given moment, I can actually be in two thousand places at once. While, I’m sitting here with you, some of my other aspects are driving the sun chariot, inspiring artists, listening to a symphony, and having a discussion with my oracle.
Sounds exhausting. What do you do to relax?
I play my lyre, and spend time with Daphne.
Is there anything you wish Nancy had kept her mouth shut about?
[Gaze wanders to the ceiling.] I wish she hadn’t mentioned my collection of art that depicts Daphne. Alex, my oracle, is right. It makes me look more than a bit stalker-y.
Tell us about Daphne. What drew you to her?
Do you have an eternity? For me, it started long before Cupid shot me with that damned arrow. From my chariot, I look down on the world. I saw Daphne running through the fields and hunting game. The way the light flashed on her throat was entrancing. Her slender wrists and ankles begged to be caressed, and the sinuous lines of her body drove me mad with desire.
Then, my rival Leucippus disguised himself as a girl and hid within Daphne’s troop of nymphs. I told Daphne that she had an intruder in her ranks, and that the nymphs should bathe naked and thus expose him. They tore him apart. She was… remarkable in her fury. I would have seduced her then, but I knew she swore to follow Artemis’s path and take no lovers. I intended to honor Daphne’s choice. Then Cupid shot me with a golden arrow, and reason had no place in my heart. I had to make Daphne mine.
What really pushes your buttons?
Cupid. Enough said.
You’re not on the cover. How come?
Did you see how beautiful Daphne looks? Besides I am there in the way the sunlight and the rainbow bathe her skin. I’m really very happy with the cover.
What’s your biggest turn ons?
Daphne. [Laughs.] Could I be any more predictable? Music is also wonderful. It’s kept me sane through the eons Daphne’s been trapped in the laurel tree.
What are your biggest turn-offs?
Wow. There’s really not much that can ruin the mood. I’m a very sensual being.
What’s your favorite Ice cream flavor, Chocolate, Vanilla, or Strawberry?
Do you believe in ghosts?
You’re kidding, right? I’ve seen, and talked with spirits of those long past from the mortal realm in the Underworld. Hades rules over what you would call ghosts. So, yes, I believe in ghosts.
What is your biggest fear?
Losing Daphne forever.
Why should the readers be interested in Apollo Rising?
Who doesn’t like a good love story? Cupid once said that the reason heroes go on quests is to prove that they deserve the prize. The winged freak was right about that. Even for the gods, love extracts a terrible price.
Like most of the Greek myths, Apollo Rising is about so much more than whether I can break Daphne’s curse and restore her to her true form. It’s a story about accepting responsibility for our mistakes, and what we’re willing to sacrifice for love. Would you make a deal with Hades, the devil himself, if it was the only way to free your love even at the cost of everything else? I have to tell you, my uncle’s not a fun man to barter with, and he hates giving up the souls in his care.
From Apollo Rising
A soft glow beckoned from around a corner. While Hades pretended to be a traditionalist, he indulged in modern conveniences every chance he could. Ultra-violet panels, the ones mortals used to simulate sunlight, glowed from inside the walls. They brought day into the vaulted cavern. Hades had encrusted the ceiling with aquamarines since Apollo’s last visit. The light played off them simulating a summer sky. Another token of Hades’s love. Stalactites wider than a city bus hung from the ceiling. Others met stalagmites to form fluted columns reminiscent of the Pantheon. Stone draperies served as curtains, which separated Persphone’s chamber, and Hades’s media room from the main audience hall.
Reaching the center of the room, Apollo dropped to one knee.
“Lord Hades, I come to you as a supplicant.”
Hades could have passed for one of the stalagmites with his sharp and jagged features. His skin held a bluish cast from lack of sunlight. Obsidian color hair hung loose to his shoulders. Flint hard eyes glared at Apollo.
Persephone, on the other hand, reminded Apollo of a spring breeze. Sunshine colored hair swept away from olive skin, slightly pales in her time in the Underworld. Her bright ginger-colored tunic broke the unrelieved grays and blacks of the great hall.
“What brings you here?” Hades’s voice reverberated through the chamber.
Apollo raised an eyebrow. “I seek information, and possibly a trade.”
The few times Apollo had needed something from Hades, he’d been treated as an honored guest. But not this time.
Enraged to the point of incivility by Persephone’s upcoming desertion, Hades was likely to vent his temper on any target. Sadly, Apollo provided him with one that could give him a decent fight. Daphne’s soul might cost more than Apollo could pay.
“What do you wish of me?” Hades asked.
“I wish to barter for Daphne’s soul.”
“I never said I had her.”
They’d never been friends, but then, they hadn’t been enemies either. There really wasn’t any reason for Hades to oppose Apollo’s attempt to rescue Daphne.
“Does that mean you are going to vie her to me?” Apollo asked.
“Give? Give? Now why would I do that?” Hades’s laugh grated in Apollo’s ears.
“What do you want, Hades?”
His gaze went hard. “A boon.”
“Unlimited. To be provided when I demand.”
Apollo choked. If he agreed Hades could demand anything from him. Even the sun. The God of the Underworld had never been happy with his lot. Hades had helped his brothers, Zeus and Poseidon, wrestle the cosmos from Cronus. The brothers then drew lots for their domains. Zeus chose the sky, which is why Apollo as his son, was the Sun God. Poseidon chose the sea. But the brothers tricked Hades into becoming Death. In choosing the underworld, Hades lost the ability to walk comfortably in the sunlight. But if he took the sun from Apollo, Hades could remain above ground with Persphone.
Could Phoebus Apollo lose the sun?
Who would he be without it?
Buy Apollo Rising
Currently available exclusively at Amazon.