The Inspiration Behind The Heart of War
The following was originally scheduled for posting with Fade Into Fantasy on July 8th but has been postponed until July 14th. While I’m getting these together here today I thought I’d post it anyway.
The Inspiration Behind “The Heart of War”
by Lisa Beth Darling
I’ve had a very voracious interest in Greek Mythology since the 7th grade when my English teacher, Mr. DePeter, introduced us to the Greek Pantheon. I was lucky enough to have Mr. D again in my senior year of high school when we did the Greek Pantheon and the Greek Tragedies. That was it- I was hooked. I loved everything about Greek Mythology and I still do, the ritual, the pageantry, the drama, the trials, the loves and the losses. Let’s face it, it’s really got everything anyone could ever want in their reading material.
I’ve always felt Ares God of War was the most misunderstood and outright dumped-on character in Greek Mythology. I never saw him as being inherently evil or particularly bloodthirsty but, instead, I see him as the Yang to Aphrodite’s Yin. The Goddess of Love truly represents femininity in its most beautiful, loving, and sexual form. The God of War, to me, has always represented male beauty and masculinity in its rawest form. I’ve always been a sucker for an Alpha Male, especially one who is also considered a ‘bad boy’ and I think Ares God of War is probably the epitome of those concepts. He’s large, in charge, and isn’t afraid to do whatever is necessary to get things done. It doesn’t hurt that he’s always been reported to have a voracious sexual appetite.
One of my favorite Greek Myths is Ares affair with Aphrodite and how they got caught in the act by the Gods. Even though they were shamed in front of all of the Gods and Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, they still continued their affair long after her marriage to Hephaestus, the Blacksmith of the Gods, ended. Ares and Aphrodite had several children together including Eros, the fluffy little winged God of Love, she also bore him one daughter, Harmonia, who was said to be the perfect balance between Love and War proving that Love and War are equal sides of the same coin and are forever intertwined.
As I sat down to write The Heart of War I thought of staying with that myth but wondered if, in any sort of reality, Ares and Aphrodite would still be together several thousands of years later. In my mind, I decided they would not. In fact, in my story, the myth I loved so much, actually became-as Ares puts it-the “biggest mistake” he ever made. Throughout the novel the two have a very stormy ex-lovers-type of relationship which was really quite fun to write! Two bitter bickering ex-lovers on steroids.
I wanted a new love interest for him but I wasn’t even sure that he actually could fall in love and put someone before himself for the rest of his life—without changing his inherent nature or totally turning him into some wuss. That would have been horrible.
One of the things I tend to do in my stories is combine Greek Mythology with Celtic Mythology and so the Muse and I came up with Magdalena MacLeod, a half-human and half-fey woman. At first, ‘Alena’ was going to be your average sexy young thing; after all, that’s what hot romance is all about, right? Ares is a God 5000+ years old so that idea worked for about two minutes when I found myself stuck in the song Hey Nineteen (Steely Dan). I realized that in order to give them a real relationship, something based on more than just sex, Alena had to be older, she couldn’t be a woman/child she had to be a full-fledged woman.
Since she is part fey I figured we could get away with making her older, so she entered the scene at 245 years of age. I wanted her to look the part to some degree so that the Reader would have a constantly visual reference to her age. I gave her silver/gray hair and matching eyes. I also gave her a personality that reflected her years and the wisdom she gained just being alive on Planet Earth so long. However, because she is a magickal being, I kept her face and body youthful.
The two meet, gradually fall in love, and they have a wonderful, if sometimes turbulent relationship, but most important of all, Alena loves Ares for Ares. She never once tries to change him which is why he loves her back and can’t stand the idea of being without her. She’s the only person in his long life who has ever just accepted him, wanted him and loved him simply for who and what he is.
In the end, I think that’s what real love is all about; finding someone you want to be with as often as possible and wanting it just because they are who they are. Love is about changing people or taking on ‘projects’ it’s about acceptance. Ares and Alena accept each other, warts and all, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Before I go, I suppose I should fess up and admit that there is one other teeny-tiny thing that gave me a great burst of inspiration for writing “The Heart of War”….here it is.
Yeah, if that picture doesn’t knock your socks off nothing will!
See, quite a long while after I graduated from high school, two little TV shows made their appearances. They were “Hercules the Legendary Journeys” and “Xena Warrior Princess” respectively. I loved those shows for many reasons, chief among them being they didn’t do a half-bad job with most of the mythology. They were just plain FUN. They were campy and they didn’t take themselves too seriously and…they had this awesomely hot hunk to play my man, Ares God of War. RIP, Kevin Smith, you are missed so very much.
Anyway, that picture me my eye and “The Heart of War” was truly born in about 30 seconds. That picture gave me the entire novel from beginning to end and, from that point on I didn’t care who thought Ares couldn’t play the hero! That looks like hero material to me! I put my fingers on the keyboard and about five months later the Muse and I had a 500 page novel headed for its last edit. The novel is very proudly and rightly dedicated to Mr. Smith’s memory.
Yep, even now whenever I need a little inspiration I just pop that pic and suddenly I’m all warm and tingly!