into the dark: the shadow prince blog tour - bree despain guest post (+ giveaway!)

Author Bree Despain is here today at Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia with a guest post.  Her new YA fantasy Into the Dark: The Shadow Prince combines mythology, destined love and music.  Into the Dark: The Shadow Prince was released by Egmont on March 11, 2014.  Stay tuned until the end of the post for a giveaway!

bree despain author photoBree Despain is the author of the Dark Divine trilogy and the Into The Dark trilogy. Bree rediscovered her childhood love for creating stories when she took a semester off college to write and direct plays for at-risk, inner-city teens from Philadelphia and New York. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, two young sons, and her beloved TiVo.  You can learn more about Bree at her website or follow her on Twitter.

Welcome Bree!

Greek mythology is woven into the storyline in Into the Dark: The Shadow Prince.  How do you take stories that have been told so many times and make them new?  Is there a particular retelling (or even deviation from the traditional story) that is one of your favorites?

Every story is inspired by stories that have come before it. If a writer tells you that their story is completely 100% original, they’re either delusional or a liar.  There’s nothing wrong with this—in fact it’s a writing technique called resonance. (The act of drawing out power by repeating that which has come before.) Some stories aren’t as overt with their inspiration (like did you know that The Hunger Games was inspired by the story of Spartacus?) but others are more deliberate retellings or reimaginings of older stories, myths and fairytales. Books like The Goose Girl, Ella Enchanted, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and even my new book The Shadow Prince create resonance in their readers’ minds by drawing upon the tales that many of us have heard since we were very young. As readers, we connect with the familiar.

Except we don’t want something that’s too familiar.

No one wants a carbon copy of something they’ve read before. Even if an author could write a fairytale exactly the way the Brothers Grimm would, or create and epic Greek odyssey that sounds exactly like it was written by Homer, I don’t think many people would want to read it—because it would feel like it was something that had been done before. The trick to creating a good reimagining of a classic story is to find a way to make it feel new: give it a twist, find a way to turn it on its head, or maybe combine aspects of more than one story.

In The Shadow Prince, I combined elements from many of the Greek myths, but most notably combined aspects from the stories of Hades and Persephone and Orpheus and Eurydice. Both stories center around characters who venture into the unknown and attempt to rewrite their own destinies. Playing on those themes, I chose to create new characters and place them in a present day setting, giving my version of their stories a modern twist. For example: instead of a great musician who is the son of the god of music, there is a musically talented girl (who wants to be the next Taylor Swift) who is the daughter of a rock star, or, instead of god-like characters who live on Mount Olympus, my characters are the children of the rich and famous who go to an elite private school called Olympus Hills.

I also tried to do things to turn the stories on their heads, so to speak. In the most common version of the Persephone and Hades myth, Hades merely steals Persephone into the Underworld and makes her his bride. But at looking at this myth (and studying earlier interpretations) I wondered about how much more intriguing it would be to make it so my character Haden couldn’t just take Daphne into the underworld, but had to convince her to come of her own free will—and what if she was the kind of person who wouldn’t want anything to do with his plan? This change in the story opened up a wealth of conflict and tension between my characters. Another change I went for is that in many ancient Greek stories, the hero is greatly revered by his fellow men, he is courageous, beloved, and a hero in every sense of the word. In The Shadow Prince, I decided to go for the opposite of this expectation. Haden is hated by his peers, has been disowned by his father (the king of the Underworld) and he is desperate to win back his honor and status as the prince—giving his character a new depth that isn’t present in the original story.

A series that I think does a fantastic job of incorporating and combining old, familiar stories into something new and exciting is The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Cinder, a futuristic, sci-fi take on Cinderella—in which the main character is cyborg mechanic—is one of my favorite books, and one of the stories I studied as an example of how to pull of a fantastic reimagining. There are just enough touches of the familiar mixed in with new twists to make resonate fabulously with readers.


Thanks so much for sharing, Bree!  I loved Cinder as well - it was one of my favorite books of 2011.

If this post has sparked your interest in Into the Dark: The Shadow Prince, please enter the giveaway! The kind folks at Egmont will send one lucky winner a copy of the book. To enter, simply fill out the FORM.  Giveaway open to US and Canadian addresses only, will end on Tuesday, April 22nd at 11:59pm EST.  Winner will be notified via email.  Good luck!

into the dark book one: the shadow prince by bree despain book cover
Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills High—a haven for children of the rich and famous—Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.

Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High’s prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father’s mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn’t the only student in Olympus who doesn’t quite belong.

Haden and Daphne—destined for each other—know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers’ lives collide. But Daphne won’t be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended—he’s fallen in love. Now to save themselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds.

Interested in learning more about Into the Dark: The Shadow Prince?  Bree will be over at Miss Page-Turner's City of Books tomorrow with a Q&A and giveaway, and Jump Into Books will have a review and another giveaway opportunity as well!

Fine print: The publisher (Egmont) is supplying the giveaway books. This post is not sponsored in any way.

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