Today, I am honored to host my first guest: Sherry G. Antonetti, the author of the forthcoming book from Muse It Up Publishing, The Book of Helen. I think this book about “the original Fan Fiction woman,” Helen of Troy, sounds fascinating, but you can read Sherry’s post and decide for yourself–because as LeVar Burton used to say, “You don’t have to take my word for it.” Oh, and did I mention today is Sherry’s birthday! So don’t forget to wish her happy birthday in the comments section.
What started this story?
Answer: Back in 2005 I started writing. I discovered the wonderful writer’s forum, Absolutewrite.com and began submitting pieces that amazingly enough, got published in the Washington Post!
By 2007, I’d begun to think, I should try something more than articles. I should write a book…but about what? My daughter Regina was born and a month after, contracted RSV. When a baby is sick and you’re the mom stuck at the hospital, you can do three things…pester the doctors, watch bad television and worry over your child.
Having done all three, when Regina was sleeping, I tried reading. My husband had bought the new translation by Faegles of the Odyssey. The line about Helen slipping a drug (opium) into the wine to allow the men to think about the Trojan war without getting upset jumped out at me.
Imediately I wrote a Helen story with the tag, “It started with an apple.” I liked the Helen who told the story. I liked her so much, I began writing more stories. The original idea had been to do a series of tales (sort of an Arabian Nights) based on the various trinkets and treasures Helen deemed sentimental. It turned into something more.
I thought about how she had to manipulate and charm and work the ancient world and envisioned her as a CEO in a predatory world. Helen became a composite of multiple strong women I’ve known in my life plus a goodly dose of the mythic woman from all the literature. In researching her, I discovered Helen to be the original Fan Fiction woman. There is only one Odysseus, one Hector, one Achilles and one Penelope, but Helen has been reinvented in almost every age of Western civilization. She even now is a system of measurement, as a minihelen is the amount of beauty needed to launch a single ship.
Writing this book, I sought to answer three basic questions that go unanswered in the original texts and many of the subsequent reinvisionings of the Helen/Paris/Menelaus Trojan war story.
1) What made Helen leave Sparta? (She’s queen, she’s in charge; she’s the actual power of that world). Most of the time it’s simply Paris being beautiful or the gods directly compelling the action or Menelaus bashing which oddly is designed in most cases to exonerate Helen for leaving. I wanted her to have a thinking/feeling reason for her actions and not be a mere pawn of the gods in the machine.
2) What made the Trojans keep her? They could have ended the siege by sending her out or killing her. Her beauty alone would have been sufficient perhaps for Paris, but what made all of Troy decide to stick it out for her? If you read The Trojan Women, you’ll find not all of Troy found her beguiling, but the Helen in that play is strong and defeats the seemingly justified wrath of Queen Hecuba. So Helen had to be more than a pretty face to warrant a ten year war that ended a civilization and hurt so many others.
3) What made Menelaus take her back after all of that? She’s the most famous adulterer of the Greek world. She’s shamed him. She’s forced Greece to empty its city states of grown men on her behalf to bring her back. She’s caused the deaths of countless people and suffering to those left behind. The line in the Aeneid, “She bared her breasts, he dropped his sword.” is all the explanation of their reconciliation we get. Yet in the Odyssey, it is clear that the two of them have a happy marriage later in life. So how do we get from running away and a 10 year bloody war to apparent tranquil domestic hearts in accord with one another?
Now, six years, four computers and two more children later, The Book of Helen is set to be published by Museituppublishing.com and will be available as an ebook at Amazon and in formats for Kobo, at Smashwords, Barnes& Noble and at the site itself, museituppublishing.com.
Sherry G Antonetti is the author of The Book of Helen, happily married and mother to ten wonderful children. She can be reached at email@example.com or her blog, http://www.sherryantonettiwrites.blogspot.com/ also known as Chocolate for Your Brain! You can also like her page, The Book of Helen on Facebook to keep up on the publishing date for this book.
Thank you, Sherry, for stopping by. Please let Sherry know what you think of her book in the comments section below. And remember, today’s her birthday!