RICH INTERVIEWS: Liv Albert Author for The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook
First Comics News: What first got you involved in Greek Mythology?
Liv Albert: I’ve been interested in it kind of for as long as I can remember! I often credit a teacher I had in grade seven for really spurring me on. He had us watch the 1997 mini-series adaptation of the Odyssey. Between that and Disney’s Hercules, I was pretty hooked! I’ve always loved how magical, and kind of dreamy it all was. Of course, when I got older and looked deeper, I realized it was less magical and more monstrous, but no less fascinating.
1st: Why do people like to worship Gods?
Liv: I come at this very much as a historian rather than theologian, so I don’t have a perfect answer to this question. There are still Hellenists today, and I’m not speaking for them in my answer as I’m not at all familiar with modern Hellenism (worshipping the Greek Pantheon). As for back in the ancient world, it was very much a means of understanding the world around them. Why is there thunder and lightning? The best answer for an ancient civilization would be a god of the sky who’s feeling a little angry, or enthusiastic. This evolved, of course, and existed before and far beyond the Ancient Greek world, but that’s the fun and simple answer!
1st: Do you have any favorite Greek characters?
Liv: So many! And for many different reasons. Medusa is a favourite because I find her story fascinating and complex (it’s so much more than most people realize and so so much more than just a monstrous woman who turned men to stone). Aphrodite is my historical favourite god (I found a love for her when I was a kid and it stuck). Eris and Harmonia are favourites, sometimes they’re depicted as “opposites”, other times they’re just too interesting women of mythology. Eris started the Trojan War, though we don’t really know why, or much else about her. Harmonia was a daughter of Ares and Aphrodite, and she too is lacking in details though what we have suggests she was pretty important. Her husband, Cadmus, is my favourite hero primarily because he’s the only one whose story (as far as we know) doesn’t include harming women.
1st: Are you interested in any other mythologies besides Greeks?
Liv: I loved Egyptian mythology before I loved Greek, but I found that my passion for Greek mythology quickly surpassed Egyptian. Still, I’d like to go back and dive more into their pantheon of gods and stories. The Greeks were often influenced by Egypt and the two cultures had so many interactions that it’s an easy transition.
1st: What stands out the most about Greek Mythology?
Liv: For me, it’s the complexity of these characters, but also their imperfections. For gods, they’re pretty awful. They get jealous and spiteful and angry, but also passionate and heartfelt. From a historical perspective though, I love the variations on the stories. Because of the hundreds to thousands of years of ancient Greek history, we have so many stories and so many variations on those stories. And so many where we know the story existed at one point, but we don’t actually have the ancient source itself. Often just a passing reference from a later source, a spoiler from something lost.
1st: Why do this as a prose book, does the style fit the story?
Liv: Honestly I didn’t even consider otherwise. I love poetry (especially ancient Greek epic!), but I am not a poet. Prose fits the stories I tell, the stories themselves and sometimes their variations, as well as the commentary that flows so naturally into these types of tales.
1st: Which mythological being’s personality is most like yours?
Liv: Ooh, interesting question… I’m going to go with Medusa. She feels the most like me when it comes to general righteous frustration with the state of things.
1st: Do you enjoy Disney movies such as Hercules?
Liv: Definitely. I grew up in the 90s and it was a staple in my life, that and the TV show that followed!
1st: How does doing PodCasts enrich your life?
Liv: I absolutely love doing my podcast. It gives me an outlet to constantly research more and more about Greek mythology and to share it with so many people in my particular style (sarcastic, passionate, curse-filled). I enjoy connecting with my listeners and hearing their thoughts on the myths and how I tell them, and lately, the podcast has evolved into involving interviews with some really incredible authors and classicists which allows me even more chances to learn.
1st: Do you ever fantasize about living in the time period of ancient Greece?
Liv: Definitely, except for all the hyper-patriarchal nonsense (I wouldn’t be allowed to do very much!).
1st: Will you be writing any more books in the future?
Liv: Absolutely, I hope to write both more non-fiction about Greek mythology, and to dive into fiction related to the subject as well.
1st: Do the Greek Gods and Goddesses have moral values?
Liv: That’s sort of an impossible question, given our idea of morality is based on today’s society and isn’t necessarily universal. Murder was bad, that’s definitely a moral value of ours that they shared, but otherwise, it’s tough to impose any modern ideals onto these ancient cultures, let alone their deities. The gods did a lot of things that we find immoral today, and certainly, many of those things would have also been immoral to the people of ancient Greece, but it doesn’t translate in the same way it would now.
1st: How do you like to spend any free time you have?
Liv: Lately my whole life seems to revolve around Greek mythology, so when I’m not working on the podcast or reading a new novel based in that world I often find myself playing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (which also takes place in Classical Greece)!
1st: What would you like to say to all your fans?
Liv: Thank you all so much for coming with me on this often crazy ride through Greek mythology!
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