“I care,” he said in a trembling voice. “I care so much that I do not know how to tell you without it seeming inconsequential compared to how I feel. Even if I am distant at times and seem as if I do not want to be with you, it is only because this scares me, too.” ~Henry (aka: Hades)
Up next in this Summer of Myths is talented, debut author Aimee Carter. Aimee’s take on the myth of Persephone is perfect for anyone looking for a brooding Hades, a strong outspoken heroine, and a big surprise ending, full of character reveals.
It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.
Kate’s mother’s dying wish is to return to her hometown of Eden. Once there, Kate is thrown into an imaginative world she never dreamed existed. She quickly makes friends with a boy named James and develops a bit of a frienemy relationship with sharp-tongued Ava. Not the best start to life in a new town. Kate is not much of a social butterfly, and prefers the company of her mother, soaking up as much precious time with her as she can.
So when the nurse in charge of Kate’s mother, tells her to go out and have some fun, Kate concedes. Unfortunately that fun turns to tragedy when Ava plays a hazing prank on Kate. Crossing a river, Ava slips and hits her head. As Kate kneels over Ava’s soaked lifeless, we are introduced to Henry—the owner of the property. Henry somberly asks Kate what she would do to have her friend back the way she was. To which Kate replies “anything.”
Kate doesn’t fully realize the consequences of her words. Saving Ava’s life is the first of a series of seven tests designed to test Kate. And Henry is anything but ordinary. In exchange for Ava’s life, Kate agrees to live with Henry for six months (along with Ava). And in return, Henry promises to save Kate’s mother, as well. But Kate isn’t the first girl who’s been put through the tests, and her predecessors have all died trying.
Henry’s attempt to win Kate over, without letting her in on the truth of who is, is painful to witness. He seems dark and brooding, but at the same time thoughtful and sensitive. He used to love someone else, but is falling for Kate. And the way Aimee Carter manages to unfold the truth, the mythology, and the romance is meticulously handled.
Anyone who loves a Persephone story will fall for this original twist on the myth.
INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR AIMEE CARTER
WHY I YA: How did you come up with the idea for The Goddess Test?
AIMEE: Ever since I first read the myth of Hades and Persephone at a young age, I wondered about Hades' side of the story. It wasn't until I began to write original work that I really explored the idea as a story concept, but it took me many years to figure out all of the key ingredients, including how I wanted to tell it. Kate, the protagonist, and her situation with her mother was the final piece of the puzzle. Once I figured out that she was a girl whose mother (and only family) was at death's door and that Kate would do anything to buy more time with her, everything fell into place.
WHY I YA: Have you always wanted to write a book for young adults?
AIMEE: I knew from around fourteen on that I wanted to be some kind of storyteller, and novels were the most accessible form for me to explore at the time. I began writing manuscripts for the YA market around that time, and from them on out I decided I wanted to strive toward the goal of publication.
WHY I YA: What drew you to Greek mythology?
AIMEE: I've always been a huge fan. One of my favorite books as a kid was D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, and I read through every single book on mythology I could get my hands on. I even watched the shows - Hercules and Xena on TV, the Disney version of Hercules, everything. And that love stayed with me into adulthood.
WHY I YA: Who was your favorite character to write and why?
AIMEE: I'd have to say a three way tie between Henry, Ava, and James, all for different reasons. They each brought something fresh to their scenes, and especially their dialogue and the way they look at the world was a ton of fun to write.
WHY I YA: What ran through your mind the first time you saw your book in print (or the cover for your book)?
AIMEE: I'm a pretty laid-back person in real life, but that had me excited. I took a ton of pictures and probably squeed a lot, but mostly I felt a sense of relief that the process was over, and it was finally going to be available for people to read. As satisfying as that publishing contract is, there's nothing like seeing your book on a shelf or hearing from a stranger who loved it.
WHY I YA: How long did it take for you to write the book, and how many rounds of revisions did you go through?
AIMEE: I went through many, many outlines in an attempt to figure out what would work for the story, and it took me about a year of that to really settle on what I liked. That's highly unusual for me - usually I can finish up an outline in a few days and really fine-tune it in a week or two. The first draft only took me about six to eight weeks, but that was only the beginning. By the time I was done with editing (I did well over a dozen edits throughout the entire process), all but a single scene was ripped to shreds or heavily rewritten. Even the prologue isn't original to the first draft. That came around draft four, and the published ending came in one of the last drafts I wound up doing. It was a very long and difficult process, but the book is much, much better for it.
WHY I YA: What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
AIMEE: Keep going and keep learning. You can keep going, but without learning from your mistakes, you're only hurting your chances. And while success is never a guarantee, if you quit, you will fail.
WHY I YA: How do you deal with negative criticism or reviews (if any)?
AIMEE: I'm weird in the sense that I absolutely love getting constructive criticism during the writing process, because it typically helps make the story better. But after the book is done and on shelves, I don't read negative reviews, since there's nothing I can do at this stage to fix the problems people have with it. Besides, a lot of the reviews contradict themselves, and it really just comes down to personal preference and taste. Nothing ever pleases everyone, and I've been lucky that a lot more people have enjoyed the book than have not enjoyed it. I'm still learning and will continue to learn with each book - since I wrote The Goddess Test, I've written six more manuscripts, and for me at least, each one is a little bit better than the last. That's the only thing that I as a writer can really hope for in the face of criticism. Learn from my mistakes and apply those lessons to the next book.
WHY I YA: What’s next from Aimee Carter | What can your fans look forward to?
AIMEE: The sequel to The Goddess Test, called Goddess Interrupted, will be released in January 2012, and the third one in the fall. And once that series is complete, my publisher will release my dystopian trilogy, the first of which will be called Masked.
Thanks so much for having me, Demetra!
Aimée Carter was born and raised in Michigan, where she currently resides. She started writing fan fiction at eleven, began her first original story four years later, and hasn’t stopped writing since. The sequel, Goddess Interrupted, will be available February 2012. Aimée also attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and received a degree in Screen Arts and Cultures with a sub-concentration in Screenwriting.
Thank you, Aimee! We all appreciate a little insight into your world and your process. I, for one, am looking forward to where you take this story.