Jamie Thomas has enough trouble on his hands trying to get through junior year of high school without being pulverized by Billy Stratton, his bully and tormentor. But the mother he was always told was dead is actually alive—and she’s an Amazon!
Sixteen years after she left him on his father’s doorstep, she’s back and needs Jamie’s help. A curse has caused the ancient tribe of warrior women to give birth to nothing but boys, dooming them to extinction—until prophecy reveals that salvation lies with one of the offspring they abandoned.
Putting his life on the line, Jamie must find the courage to confront the wrath of an angry god to save a society that rejected him.
From Mythology to Fantasy
Reimagining ancient mythology in a modern setting isn’t anything new. When I was writing The Unwanted, I did more than just bone up on my Greek pantheon. I also picked up a few other novels (both YA and adult) that dealt with Greek gods and goddesses. The most obvious entry in this category is Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, which I set aside only because I didn’t want it to influence my own work. While I was working on revisions, I also read the marvelous novel The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, which is a retelling of the Trojan War and the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus from Patroclus’ point of view. If you haven’t read this Orange Prize-winning novel, I highly recommend it.
I also scoured the library and (where else?) the internet for writings and research on the Amazons. Considering that my knowledge of them came from Wonder Woman (the source of my lasting fascination with them) and high school classes, I needed to see what I could find. The answer? Not much. A few passages in larger works on mythology, one thin volume on reoccurrences of Amazon-like tribes throughout different mythologies, but that was it. This was before I had access to a university library, and I’ve been able to find more since then. Even so, I realized that at some point I had to step away and view the myth in a way that would make sense for modernity as well as to my protagonist Jamie, a young gay teenager who discovers his mother’s an Amazon and he’s one of their cast-off boys.
That’s where the fun began.
The gods and goddesses themselves who appear in the book are perhaps the most straightforward element. They exist in a reality largely separate but parallel to our own world. Are they actual gods? Are they simply more advanced beings? I have my ideas on that, but I’m saving that for a sequel. Suffice it to say, they continue to interfere in the lives of mortals in both large and small ways.
My big worry was that I would get things “wrong”, that my representation wouldn’t line up with the historical record, but then I realized two things. First, of course, was that the historical record was contradictory itself, and secondly that I wanted to change things. I shifted allegiances, aligned both gods and mortals in ways that I thought made sense, and basically had a lot of fun. If every age reinvents myths to make sense of their own world, I wanted to do the same thing.
And there’s nary a golden lasso or invisible jet in sight.
Jeffrey Ricker’s first novel, Detours, was published in 2011 by Bold Strokes Books. His second novel, The Unwanted, will be published by Bold Strokes in 2014. His writing has appeared in the anthologies Paws and Reflect, Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction, Blood Sacraments, Men of the Mean Streets, Speaking Out, Raising Hell, The Dirty Diner, Night Shadows: Queer Horror, and others. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he is pursuing an MFA at the University of British Columbia.