Emily Roberson: Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters
It's October! Fall weather! Pumpkin stuff! Foofy sweaters! NEW BOOKS!
Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters
by Emily Roberson
Sixteen-year-old Ariadne’s whole life is curated and shared with the world. Her royal family’s entertainment empire is beloved by the tabloids, all over social media, and the hottest thing on television. The biggest moneymaker? The Labyrinth Contest, a TV extravaganza in which Ariadne leads fourteen teens into a maze to kill a monster. To win means endless glory; to lose means death. In ten seasons, no one has ever won.
When the gorgeous, mysterious Theseus arrives at the competition and asks Ariadne to help him to victory, she doesn’t expect to fall for him. He might be acting interested in her just to boost ratings. Their chemistry is undeniable, though, and she can help him survive. If he wins, the contest would end for good. But if she helps him, she doesn’t just endanger her family’s empire―the monster would have to die. And for Ariadne, his life might be the only one worth saving.
Ariadne’s every move is watched by the public and predestined by the gods, so how can she find a way to forge her own destiny and save the people she loves?
October 22nd, 2019
Introduce yourself and your debut novel!
I’m Emily Roberson, author of LIFESTYLES OF GODS AND MONSTERS, a retelling of the Minotaur myth with a reality TV setting. It combines two of my favorite things – mythology and celebrity culture, and I had a blast writing it. I live with my family in Arkansas.
What’s the most surprising part about your debut journey so far?
The most surprising and the most wonderful thing about my debut journey so far is all the authors I’ve met. I feel like I’m in a community of authors who are all cheering for each other, and that has been so great.
Give a shout-out to a fellow debut!
I love Sara Faring, and her novel THE TENTH GIRL. The book is so good – a twisty, turning boarding school novel set in Patagonia during the 1970s. Also, Sara is delightful and her Instagram is blast.
Who is your favorite character?
My favorite character to write was Icarus. He appeared in my head fully formed, and his dialogue was so fun to write.
How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me about a year to write LIFESTYLES.
What’s a cool thing about your book that isn’t in the blurb?
I love the aesthetic of the world of the book. A brutalist Labyrinth, luxurious corridors, parties with gold painted dancers suspended from the ceiling, a crooked room with a view of the city. I can’t wait to see what all the fan artists out there make of it all.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve been thinking about mythological retellings for years, trying different things. Then the idea of the first chapter appeared in my head, and I wrote it very quickly. The rest of the writing process was figuring out how to build a book around that voice and that world.
Describe your main character in 3 words.
Prickly, watchful, guarded.
What was the hardest scene to write?
Theseus and the Minotaur in the Labyrinth. I knew from the beginning that it was going to be hard, and the more I wrote, the harder it got. I probably wrote 20 drafts of that scene.
What advice would you give to a new writer?
Figure out why you are writing. If it brings you joy and you don’t care about publication (the way knitting is for me) then write whatever you like, and don’t pay attention to what anyone says. If, however, you would like to be published, you have to share your work (carefully), but you do have to share it.
Describe your writing space.
I have several different writing spaces – a desk in my office, crowded with books; the kitchen counter, surrounded by household detritus; a porch chair outside; and tables at three different coffee shops; oh, also the library. I tend to wear out a spot and then need to switch. As soon as I get blocked in one spot, I’ll move to another.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
Very iteratively. I have what I call the Paper Doll Phase, where I tear out pictures from magazines, do personality tests on them, make playlists for them, all those kinds of things. But then I have to put them in the story, and I often find that I was wrong about them. When they stop doing what I want them to do, or when I feel very blocked about what to write next, I’ll go back to the paper dolls and figure out what I got wrong. I do find that I’m much better if I know what they want and what they need. But I don’t always know that and sometimes I just have to write to figure it out.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
For writing these mythological retellings, I looked at various sources, mythological books, historical atlases, other retellings, but then I have to leave it all behind and write my own thing. I try not to get stuck in the canonical version of the stories, because sometimes you need to change things.
How do you select character names?
My names did come from the myths, which means that for a few of them, Xenodice in particular, I have no idea how they are pronounced.
What is your favorite word, and why?
I have loved “snobling” since I was in the tenth grade and found it in a dictionary. I love that there would be a word for a young snob.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have a writing group that I’ve been in for six years. They are all in Dallas, and I’m in Little Rock, but I met them when I lived in Dallas. We meet once a week, and they dial me in while they are all in person. I’ve also made several writer friends here in Little Rock. My favorite thing from debut year has been making virtual friends with other debut authors.
What book or author has most influenced your own writing?
MAKING A LITERARY LIFE by Carolyn See has been a huge influence on how I live my writing life.
If you could only buy one book this year, which book would it be?
If it was only one, it would have to be epic to last me a long time – I’d say Katy Rose Pool’s THERE WILL COME A DARKNESS.
Share a favorite recipe!
I make a good chili:
Ground beef (1 pound)
Beans that you like (4 cans, drained)
Tomato paste (1 tablespoon)
Rotel (2 cans)
Chili powder (1 T)
For the other spices, it’s kind of what you like, I do about 1/2 teaspoon of each, but we like things spicy.
Cracked red pepper
Let it cook for at least ½ hour. Serve with what you like with chili – we have cornbread, fritos, sour cream, cheese, scallions and we make it kind of a chili festival.
Best if you also have brownies for afterward!
Thanks for interviewing, Emily! Not gonna lie, this story sounds amazing. I can't wait to find out what Ariadne does on 10/22/19!