Tuesday 27 November 2018

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Once Upon a Retelling: Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi

Once Upon a Retelling

Welcome to Once Upon a Retelling! I'm a huge fan of retellings, and I'm really interested in hearing about authors' own love of the original stories, and what inspired them to retell those stories. And so Once Upon a Retelling was born, a feature in which I interview authors about their versions of well-loved tales.

Today, I'm so happy to have Elizabeth Tammi stopping by the blog to talk about Outrun the Wind, her retelling of the Greek myth of Atalanta.

Elizabeth TammiCan you tell us a little about Outrun the Wind? What kind of a retelling of the Greek myth of Atalanta is it?

Outrun the Wind is best described as a sapphic reimagining of the Greek myth of Atalanta. Much of her story is still as it is commonly known—she swears to marry whichever man can beat her in a footrace. She goes on the Calydonian Boar Hunt, is abandoned at birth, etc., but I imagined what might have been going on in the background. What were her true motivations? Additionally, this is a dual-perspective book, so I got to interweave an entirely original character and storyline into Atalanta’s myth.

Why Atalanta? What drew you to this Greek myth and her story? And what inspired you to retell it?

I feel very comfortable and inspired by the realm of Greek mythology. I feel like I know the lore and stories well, and have read several translations and retellings. When I first started writing seriously, I knew I wanted to tackle something that would continually feel exciting and fun, because writing is hard enough, haha! Outrun the Wind was the second story I wrote, and it came to me after reading the original story of Atalanta. I felt equal parts captivated and confused by her myth, and couldn’t stop imagining what the story wasn’t saying, and in pieces, the rest of my version came to me.

What do you bring to the story of Atalanta with Outrun the Wind?

I incorporated a lot of new characters to her story that I feel helped flesh out and make sense of her myth. I gave Atalanta a first-person, adolescent perspective that is absent in original poems written of her life. I hope I have done right by her, but of course this is just how I imagined her story to be, and the beauty of mythology is that it has lots of room for reinterpretation and fluidity.

How does Outrun the Wind differ from other retellings of Atalanta out there?

While I know other retellings of Atalanta are out there (such as For the Winner by Emily Hauser), I haven’t actually read any of them, because it’s something I feel would alter my own perception of her. But I know Outrun the Wind is the only retelling thus far that has reinterpreted what her sexuality might have been, and reimagines the details of the Calydonian Boar Hunt and her races.

Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth TammiWere there any difficulties in tackling a retelling of a story already known, over writing an original story? Anything that was easier?

There were absolutely parts that were difficult, while other aspects came relatively easily. I liked having the general, loose plot points from the myth to help guide my structure. However, it’s always a struggle to see how much or how little can be incorporated before it becomes either an unoriginal repetition or a completely new tale. I had to straddle two worlds, but ultimately it wasn’t extraordinarily frustrating. What I struggled with the most was discerning the individual voices of Kahina and Atalanta, and trying to create the atmosphere of ancient Greece.

What do you hope readers get from Outrun the Wind?

I hope that Outrun the Wind is enjoyable for fans of mythology, and that maybe it can also inspire other readers to get more into the world of myth, because it’s such a great realm for storytellers of today. I also hope that the story helps remind readers that queer people (especially queer women) have always existed—even thousands of years ago in Greece.

What do you think makes a good retelling?

Good retellings, in my opinion, are able to make a reader seriously consider the scope and nuance of stories they thought they once knew. They should feel familiar and innovative at the same time; that’s the end goal I had while approaching Outrun the Wind, and one I definitely can still improve upon as I continue in my writing career.

Are there any retellings you would recommend, either Atalanta, or in general?

Anything Madeline Miller writes is complete genius. She deals with the source material much more intricately and masterfully than I’ll ever be able to, haha. Both The Song of Achilles and Circe are fantastic examples of Greek myth retellings.

Anything you would like to add?

Thanks so much for having me! I’m so grateful to get to share my version of Atalanta’s story.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for such a fantastic interview! I don't know about you, but I hadn't heard of Atalanta before discovering Outrun the Wind, but her story sounds fascinating! And I'm really looking to this queer retelling!

Be sure to visit Elizabeth's website, follow her on Twitter, Intagram, and Tumblr, and check out Outrun the Wind, which is published today!

Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth TammiOutrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi

The Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued from a harrowing life as an Oracle of Delphi, Kahina is glad to be a part of the Hunt; living among a group of female warriors gives her a chance to reclaim her strength, even while her prophetic powers linger. But when a routine mission goes awry, Kahina breaks the first rule in order to save the legendary huntress Atalanta.

To earn back Artemis’s favor, Kahina must complete a dangerous task in the kingdom of Arkadia— where the king’s daughter is revealed to be none other than Atalanta. Still reeling from her disastrous quest and her father’s insistence on marriage, Atalanta isn’t sure what to make of Kahina. As her connection to Atalanta deepens, Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’ second rule.

She helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage, and word spreads throughout Greece, attracting suitors willing to tempt fate to go up against Atalanta in a race for her hand. But when the men responsible for both the girls’ dark pasts arrive, the game turns deadly.
From Goodreads.

If you enjoyed this post, check out the other interviews in the Once Upon a Retelling series.

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