Coreena McBurnie is a writer from Canada, with a love for the Classics, here to talk about her debut novel: Prophecy, the first in here Antigone series. I’ve got the full interview for you first – then we can have a look at the book.
Toni :We’ll start off talking about your book, ‘Prophecy’, tell us a little about our protagonist, Antigone, and what happens to her?
Coreena: About Antigone — She’s a sixteen year old princess of ancient Thebes, daughter of Oedipus (yeah, Oedipus who killed his father and married his mother). Antigone’s got her life set out for her — she’s being groomed to run a household and get married in order to make a political alliance. Thebes is being devastated by a plague, so the political alliance is very important. However, one night the god Apollo comes to her in a dream and tells her that she is blessed but that her family is cursed and she needs to be loyal to the gods. Then Antigone finds out that snakes can talk to her in her mind and that she is their princess. This leads Antigone to have to do some soul searching, and she has to decide which path to follow — The one her parents want and have groomed her for? Or does she fulfill her duty to the gods? Or to the snakes who claim to be holders of an even more ancient power? Or does she do what she really wants to do? Antigone’s being pulled in so many directions and the choices are all good ones, at least on the surface, and fulfill a duty that she is obliged to follow, but all of the duties start to conflict.
Toni: So I’m guessing Oedipus hasn’t been blinded yet then – maybe that’s something Antigone has to deal with? I guess we’ll read to find out. So you’ve clearly been heavily influenced by myths and tragedies, how about you give us a taste of which other ones inspired ‘Prophecy’? Apart from Oedipus itself of course…
Coreena: Right, as you can tell, I am heavily influenced by Greek myth. I’ve based Prophecy loosely on Sophocles’ tragedy, Oedipus Rex, and that is where I get most of the major plot points from. Antigone doesn’t appear much in plays outside the Oedipus ones, except for Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus. I used all of these plays to come up with Antigone’s character and her attitude. She stood out for me in all Greek myth as a young woman who stands up for herself and is true to her convictions. At the same time, she is fallible and prone to pride or hubris, like any good Greek hero is. This combination of duty and pride makes for some fun character explorations.
I also am interested in some of the myths before the traditional Greek ones that we all know — there were older, more “earthy” gods who were killed off by the Olympians. These found their way into Antigone’s story via the snakes and ultimately manifest in the goddess Python, who was killed by Apollo.
Toni: How about your support characters? Any in particular you have a soft spot for? Or any villains you wish were real just so you could drown them?
Coreena: Support characters — I really like Ismene, Antigone’s younger sister, because she is a perfect foil for Antigone. In some ways she is a lot like her big sister, in that she has a strong sense of duty, but she does what she is supposed to rather than what she thinks is right.
As far as villains, I love Apollo. It would be great to drown him, but he’s a god, so that might not work. But, (mild spoiler) he does get a bit of what’s coming to him in the second book. Apollo is fantastic because he’s fickle and aloof and a bit like a stubborn toddler. He also has no problem playing with people for his own amusement. He’s the god of prophecy but refuses to tell people what’s going on. Instead he creates confusion and watches the chaos that follows.
T: I love that you seem to have gone for a really typically Greek depiction of spoiled humanistic gods, I think it’s such a shame when they get modernized into being benevolent. Spoiled is much more fun. But you mention a Book Two, what can you tell us about that?
Coreena: I know, I love the Greek gods as spoiled and fickle — that’s really how I see them. Book 2 is called Fate and roughly follows the second of the Oedipus plays by Sophocles called Oedipus at Colonus. I have a really rough draft done and am currently working on fleshing it out. It has Antigone and Oedipus in their exile from Thebes and how they deal with the aftermath of the end of Prophecy. The Olympian gods are also more present in Fate, but so is Python, the ancient earth goddess of prophecy, so some great conflict there. I also have a draft for book three which follows Sophocles’ play called Antigone, one of the best Greek plays written, and my inspiration for writing this series.
Toni: Lots to look forward to then. We’ve spoken a lot about your books, let’s hear a little bit about you. What do you find yourself up to when you’re not writing?
Coreena: I read a lot and I love to get out to where there are trees. I’ve got three kids, so I drive around quite a bit. I enjoy going out for coffee with friends and I’m trying to explore other ways to be creative, like painting — I’m not trying to be good at it, but just see where it takes me.
Toni: I’m going to close up the interview now so any last comments to make?
Coreena: Thanks so much for this. It’s been fun getting this opportunity to share my book.
So lets have a look at the book itself now:
A hidden prophecy. A chosen princess who speaks with snakes. A family duty.
Sixteen year old Princess Antigone, daughter of the infamous ancient Greek King Oedipus, wants to lead a normal life and fulfill her duty to the gods, her city, and her family, but fate has other plans. The Olympian gods bless her, the snakes talk to her, her parents want her to marry a foreign prince, her embroidery looks like burial shrouds for dogs, and she has fallen in love with the wrong boy.
When the mysterious and devastating prophecies surrounding her family are revealed, Antigone must choose where her allegiance lies: With the gods who have betrayed her family but who she is obliged to serve? With her plague ridden city? With her family which lay in ruins? Or even with herself?
In Prophecy, Book One of the Antigone: The True Story series, Antigone steps out of the shadows of the past to tell her own story, a story where truth of history is stranger than the fiction of myth.
And a little bit more about out Author – although I’m not sure my doodles did her justice:
I write mythological retellings– my passion for ancient cultures, mythology, and history started many years ago and, after studying Classics in university and earning my Master’s degree, I am channeling this love into my writing.Prophecy, Book 1 in Antigone: The True Story series, is my first published book. I do most of my writing in November during Nanowrimo and spend the rest of the year editing and reading. I live in BC, Canada with my husband, three kids, and our cat.
If you like the sound of Prophecy you can find it here:
And you can find Coreena here:
or on Twitter:
If you’re a writer looking for an interview like this I’m always happy to host, just message me through the contacts page, and to all the readers out there thanks for supporting indie authors like us!