Behind the scenes of Fire Maidens: Greece

Shifters, magic, and mythology in the Greek islands. Come have a look behind the scenes! I had a great time re-visiting Greece (at least in my memories) while plotting and writing this book. Read on to learn about the inspiration and making of Fire Maidens: Greece!

The characters

Dragon shifter Theo is a character you got to know in Fire Maidens: Venice, where he was a reliable, honor-driven friend to Tony. But Theo wasn’t always that way, and Fire Maidens: Greece explains why he’s so determined to prove he’s turned over a new leaf. I definitely have a thing for imperfect heroes and redemption stories (please don’t psycho-analyze why that might be!), but this is the first rich, spoiled-brat-turns-into-a-good, honest-man I’ve written. Honestly, I love the result, and hope you do, too! It’s not just that Theo is overcoming external obstacles - he’s overcoming his own faults, too, perhaps the hardest challenge to face of all.

Heroine Zoe has just as many facets – some as surprising to her as they are to readers! She’s confident, tough, and adventurous. But she’s a contradiction, too. Making her an archaeologist was a no-brainer, given the story’s location. But for all that she’s fascinated by the past, she’s never investigated her own roots. Perhaps that’s out of loyalty to her parents, who raised her with an abundance of love and a feeling of security. (She’ll never call them “adoptive” parents, because they’re just “parents” to her.) She’s also a contradiction in being a mix of a nerdy academic and an adventurer who’s perfectly happy trekking across the island and living in a remote area alone.

As a kid, I LOVED the story world and epic heroes of Greek myths, and that’s one reason Fire Maidens: Greece is packed with side characters plucked straight from the books. That’s why Yannis is such a gregarious, flirty guy – he’s a satyr, after all. Grumbly old Kaikais seems like the perfect centaur to me, just as Agis (and his daughter Ariadne) are as tough and spartan as their namesake folk. Homer is “just” a donkey, but he’s as loyal as can be. Meanwhile, the owl shifters are wise and the pegasus shifters are vain. Then there’s Dione the Oracle, who reminds me of one of those spiritual mediums you hear about from time to time – it’s hard to actually believe in their visions, but it’s just as hard to turn off your superstitions and discard what they say!

Finally, of course, there’s Heath, Theo’s Canadian bear shifter friend. I had the inspiration for this character years ago, and I can’t wait to finally bring you his story at last. But for that… Well, you’ll have to read Fire Maidens: Switzerland to see!

The story

One of my principal goals in writing this story was to keep the audience on their toes with twists and turns, and I think I succeeded. Without letting any spoilers slip, I’ll just say, I hope you agree! That’s one reason Fire Maidens: Greece weaves so many different threads together into a single tapestry.

At the same time, the heart of the story is Theo and his journey from spoiled playboy to disciplined solider and finally, caring, responsible citizen of his home town. In that way, his journey parallels that of Odysseus, Hercules, or Perseus – ancient Greek heroes who had to survive trial after trial on long and arduous odysseys before they could finally find inner peace and settle down in a place they can truly call home. Just like them, Theo has to earn that right.

So, that element of a hero’s journey helped shape this story. The details, however, were very much driven by the location. To me, Greek islands mean picture-perfect villages, ancient ruins, and turquoise water – all the ingredients my imagination needs to cook up an entire story! And since most of my island visits started at a taverna for a good meal, this story starts the same way before galloping off across a beautiful island where nothing is exactly as it seems. (Below, you can read more about the real-life locations that inspired fictional Anemodonos.)

Finally, this story also had to satisfy its role as part of a bigger series. That meant that poor Theo isn’t limited to overcoming the mistakes of his past – he also has to conquer a major outside threat. That villain has been emerging over the course of several books, and her evil plots certainly won’t end in Greece. Everything comes to a head in the next book of the series, Fire Maidens: Switzerland, so make sure you read that next!

On Location in Anemodonos

The fictional island of Anemodonos is a combination of all my favorite places in the Greek islands, which I have traveled extensively on a sailboat much like the one Theo owns. Kea, Kythnos, Sifnos, Serifos… all the way down to Sikinos and Folegadros. Hence, there is no single place exactly like Anemodonos – more like elements scattered all over Greece.

For example, Yannis’s taverna is based on the idyllic, waterfront restaurants found on every island – and believe me, I’ve tried quite a few! The temple ruins high on the north shore is a cross between the stunning Temple of Poseidon at Sounio (featured in the bonus scene to Fire Maidens: Venice and the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina. Zoe’s excavation site on the east side of the island is a miniature version of lovely Lissos, at the end of a remote gorge on Crete.

Basically, you could travel to any island in the Aegean and find elements of this story. The only thing you won’t find is the name, which I made up: Anemódis means “windy” in Greek!

My favorite scene

I had a lot of fun with this story, especially with all the side characters inspired by Greek myths. So my favorite scenes are those with Yannis, the satyr, or Kaikais, the centaur, whose shifter sides are clear even when they’re in human form.

But if I had to pick a single favorite scene, it would be the one in which Zoe and Theo visit the temple ruins on the north side of the island for the first time and end up making love on that picnic spot high over the sea. Why is that my favorite? Well, I’ve been to lots of spectacular Greek ruins, and the only thing that could make those visits even more memorable would be a romp with the man (or shifter) of my dreams!

What about you? What are your favorite scenes?

Biggest change from early drafts to final edition

The biggest change from early drafts to the final version of this story was what kind of shifter to make Zoe, or whether to make her a shifter at all. What finally helped me decide was reading a great novel called Circe by Madeleine Miller. I loved it so much, I decided to make a special kind of “magic” a prominent feature of my book.

Well, I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say that every character in this story has their secrets. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little peek behind the scenes of Fire Maidens: Greece, and I look forward to sharing Fire Maidens: Switzerland with you next! Happy reading/audio listening to this and other suspenseful paranormal romances set in great locations around the world!