Issue 050 Author Interview: Altaire Gural and “State Vs. Hades”

Hello, dear readers! We’re bringing a little courtroom drama to today’s Issue 050 author interview. Have you read “State Vs. Hades” yet? You won’t want to miss what Altaire Gural has to say about the inspiration behind this one!

LSQ: The format of this story was really interesting, I loved following the trial as it proceeded. I also felt profoundly sad for Persephone no matter who had taken the stand. What made you decide to adapt the classic myth of Hades and Persephone like this?

Altaire: I saw a court document floating in the air (don’t ask).

Nevermind. You did ask, didn’t you?

My writing process is rather intrusive: characters start speaking to me quite loudly, or images will suddenly float directly in front of me. It’s never till I’m part way into the writing of it that I can say “Ah. Now I see what this is.”

I think Persephone and Hades is one of the most beloved, romanticized mythologies; all my students love it, there’s fanfiction for it. From the time I was tiny, I was fascinated with the Nathaniel Hawthorne/Tanglewood Tales version of it (pomegranates became one of my “things”).

And then I saw the court document floating in the air, and to say that I was triggered is an understatement. It made so much sense. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to write it at all, because there are universal truths in the story that are part of the core for women everywhere: grooming, molestation, family dynamics, older men/younger women, mother/daughter dynamics. It’s all so difficult; the anger.

I saw Persephone as her own person with big dreams, and how circumstances beyond her control shaped who she became.

I think she’ll eventually grow to the eat the stars. At least, I hope she does.

LSQ: When you got to the part about the family dynamic being “complicated” and the Egyptian Pantheon being similar, I laughed. Some parts of this were so funny, while others were sad, but it all came together really well. How did you figure out the kind of tone you wanted for this?

Altaire: I’m not clever enough to plan for tone, so I guess my style is to walk between humor and tragedy naturally. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini …?

LSQ: Have you thought about adapting any other myths? I hear there’s a really interesting, super complicated Egyptian Pantheon out there that could be fun…

Altaire: Called. Out.

I really seem to love the parallels between modern social issues, and the truths embedded within fairytales and mythologies. Flipping narratives to long held assumptions has definitely become a theme in my work.

Maybe Sekhmet has something to say …