A few weeks ago, in my World Fantasy Convention recap posts, I ever so confidently declared that the next novel I would be tackling was my Helen of Troy project.
Oh, the best laid plans.
To explain, my Helen of Troy project is somewhere between a retelling and an inspired-by. I want to write in a secondary world so I have the freedom to expand the decisions I make to logical consequences that might not precisely fit the original tale. In almost every Helen of Troy version I've seen or read, authors minimize or eliminate the role of the gods ... which, while it may be more historical, seems wholly outside of the spirit of the myth. The trick, of course, is balancing the activity and intervention of the gods with human agency.
There are a lot of myths intertwined with the Helen of Troy story, heroes who are the stars of their own plot who make cameos in the battling armies. I want to take aspects and explore them in a different ways, whether it be a literal interpretation - the idea that centaurs were amazing horsemen seen by a culture not familiar with horseback riding - metaphorical, syncretic with other mythologies, or taking it into traditional fantasy territory.
But then ... I started to think about other projects, and I began to second-guess myself.
The first thing that came to mind was also a rewrite, but from my own stash - an old fandom storyline with sprawling characters and years of development. Now, for those familiar with fandom, you know it is based in another author's world, so to liberate it more than just filing the numbers off - which feels dishonest to me - I would have to come up with a framework and make changes that, in turn, would alter the context of the story. I've spitballed some of this, and to be honest, I'm excited about the possibilities ... and I know the characters like the back of my hand.
Now, these two projects share a lot in common - a huge cast, a partially predetermined plot, and reworking material to put it in a new context. Yet if I'm honest, I also find a lot of appeal in two smaller concepts, both of which also use familiar characters, but drop them headlong into a mystery story. I've been concerned that the two female protagonists of the first of these are too similar to Vil and Iluenn from Unnatural Causes, but I think the resemblance is largely superficial.
Why am I thinking about this now, when I'm only a short way into Surgeburnt? The latter three concepts here don't require a lot of pre-work, but the HoT project (isn't it ironic that "Helen of Troy" abbreviates to hot?) involves a lot of reading, from classical works to mythological treatments and scholarly randomnia. If I want to go this route, I should start reading soon.
So ... perhaps I let it set until the end of the year and see how I feel then. Goodness knows, life has been moving at a crazy pace, and what I want then may be completely different all together.