In her debut novel Everneath, author Brodi Ashton seeks inspiration from Greek and Egyptian mythology when crafting the story of Nikki, a modern-day Persephone torn between her life on the surface and her sinister ties to the underworld. Brodi was kind enough to stop by and answer some of our most pressing questions, including how to handle rejection, her favorite Greek myths, and why exactly there’s a photo of her with a pickle on her face.
Describe Everneath in five words.
Girl finds redemption after Hell.
Both of your parents were Greek-myth aficionados—self-proclaimed nerds who loved everything Greek and mythical. Do you think you would have written Everneath without their influence?
No. But not just because they loved everything Greek. They raised me to chase my dreams, whatever they are, and I wouldn’t have had the confidence to try if it wasn’t for them.
Do you have a favorite Greek myth or character? Least favorite?
Least favorite is Narcissus. I have many favorites, but one of them is Ariadne.
You also work some Egyptian myths into Everneath, like Isis and Osiris. Do Greek and Egyptian myths have different flavors to you?
They do have different flavors! But it’s difficult to explain why. Part of the difference is that the Egyptian myths are centered around their worship of the sun, and the gods seem less accessible because they are often made up of both human and animal characteristics. The Greek gods resemble us.
What are some of your favorite books about or inspired by myths (besides yours, naturally)?
D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths.
What’s up with The One with the Pickle?
Ha ha! When I got my first author pictures, I couldn’t help but notice my jowls on my cheeks. I know nothing about photoshop, so we had a little fun covering up the jowls with other things. Like the pickle. We also used the Berlin Wall.
Your path to publication was a particularly rocky one with 19 painful steps, including writing and editing two books, querying and being rejected by hundreds of agents, and finally being accepted for publication 48 hours after submitting. Do you have any advice for Figs on the process, or on how to deal with rejection letters?
I would collect my rejections, and say to myself, “This is going to make a great visual when I actually get published.”
In your FAQ, you mention that you wrote a book before Everneath that never made it to publication. What did you learn from that scrapped project? Do you think that first book will ever see the light of day?
Whenever I give people writing advice, I always suggest finishing that first book. There is no amount of writing conferences or workshops that can equal the education you will receive by just finishing that first book. So that scrapped book taught me so much about writing! I hope it someday sees the light of day, because I still really like it.
You’ve said that, plotwise, your original concept for Everneath was just the story of a girl who had disappeared and come back. What drove you to make it supernatural and steeped in Greek mythology?
It’s how my mind works. Every time I try to write a realistic story, I always reach a point where I’m all, “What if a ghost appears to help her!” or “What if her roommate is really a demon!” So when the girl in my story returned to school, and I had to ask myself where she’d been, my first instinct was to say, “She’s been trapped in Hell, of course!”
Thanks for having me!