From concept to page

Happy summer solstice! Tonight there will also be a full Strawberry Moon (Rose Moon in the Myre lexicon), so it seemed fitting to make a post about how I came to write The Soft Fall.

The concept for the novel began, first and foremost, with the mythological figure of Diana the Huntress.

Diana

In childhood, I received my first crash course in Greco-Roman mythology from a set of audio tapes. The stories were simplistic, interspersed with lute melodies, and very dry. But I always found myself wanting more details instead of these bare-boned narratives. I wanted to know why the gods behaved the way they did, because they always made terribly mortal mistakes. So I imagined, what if they were, in fact, mere mortals who were only venerated as gods? What if I could expand on these stories by adapting them into a diverse, complex narrative?

I was a quiet kid who spent a lot of time in her imagination, but when I wasn’t inside writing, I was playing in the woods across the street where I grew up. I’d build makeshift stone bridges across the creek, flower crowns out of honeysuckles and clover, fairy castles out of twigs and leaves. Naturally, I felt a strong connection with Diana, goddess of animals and wild woods.

Wolves are my favorite animals. My mother had always been a strong supporter of reintroducing gray wolves to the wild, a heated and controversial debate among Oregonians. I may have been well-versed in fairy tales, but I never feared the big bad wolf, and imagined a happy ending for him too.

When I began writing about Diana the Huntress in my youth (Dianna Aergyris, in my retelling), it made sense to associate her with wolves, being a goddess of the moon and daughter of the she-wolf Leto. The very foundation of Rome was built upon the mythology of Romulus and Remus, twin brothers raised by a she-wolf. My reimagining of the mythos would also include lycanthropy. In college, I began outlining and penning THE SOFT FALL with abandon.

In traditional mythology, Diana is a virgin goddess sworn never to marry. She turns a man into a stag just for looking at her naked! She was a protector of women and childbirth, which was an appealing characterization to me as a feminist. I couldn’t help but envision her potential value for modern feminism. What if her journey was one of self-discovery and growth — a bildungsroman? What if I explored the social consequences of womanhood through her eyes, in an oppressive and theocratic society? What if she shattered that barrier, came into her own, and changed the course of an empire’s history? What if she fell in love?

This is when the novel really coalesced. After college, newly married and settled into an apartment across the country, I spent a year finishing the first draft (with my wonderful husband, and first reader and editor, cheering me on).

At the end of this summer, we will be traveling to France and Italy (which I can still hardly believe) and hopefully be fortunate enough to see some of the ancient sites in Rome influenced by the mythology of Romulus and Remus, as well as the goddess Diana herself: Lake Nemi, the town of Ariccia, and Palatine Hill, to name a few.

The story has come a long way since the first draft, and I feel especially grateful to those who have helped it come to life. I’ve had some incredibly positive reactions to the manuscript during this submission process, and I’m beyond thrilled to see where Dianna will lead me next.

DSC001699

More of my inspiration:

Ancient Rome research masterpost from my Tumblr, thesoftfall

The Soft Fall: A Soundtrack compiled on 8tracks

The Soft Fall: Unofficial Book Trailer on YouTube

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