“It takes place in modern day and features a geeky male, a strong-willed kick-ass female who gains kudos for being a pro at deflecting unwanted male attention (read harassment), the Greek gods (of course) and a whole lot of trouble.”
Synopsis: The gods are back. Did you myth them?
Black Girl Nerds: What inspired the book?
Michael G. Munz: Inspiration for “Zeus Is Dead” has come in chunks ever since the mid-1990s.
I’ve been into Greek mythology since I was a kid, and I took a couple of classics courses in college that reminded me how varied and interesting the members of the Greek pantheon are. I wanted to write a new myth (set in ancient Greece) with such characters, but I wanted to develop my abilities for a while in order to do it justice. In 2002, when I first wrote the short story “Playing With Hubris” — in which a modern man meets two people in a café claiming to be Apollo and Thalia — I realized the potential that lay in putting mythological characters into our modern world. I played with the concept in a couple more short stories until — trying to decide what to write after finishing “A Memory in the Black” (my second sci-fi novel) a number of years ago — I decided it was time to use the concept as novel fodder.
BGN: Because you have used a mythological tone, yet set in a modern time, is this book your revelation of how you see today’s world?
Michael G. Munz: Only in a sense. My primary goal in writing “Zeus Is Dead” was to create something that would make people laugh, but a fair bit of satire did creep into the novel as it developed. I often found myself using the gods (and their massive egos) to make observations about the real world, our celebrities and our leaders.
BGN: What do you want the readers to take away after reading your novel?
Michael G. Munz: Muscle aches from smiling and laughing, a heightened interest in the characters of Greek mythology, and maybe even the idea that, once in a while, people can surprise us.
BGN: In the book, Thalia is a scatterbrained muse of comedy and science fiction. Why did you pick those two genres as her purview?
Michael G. Munz: Oh, now “scatterbrained” might be just a bit unfair. Granted, if she had a spirit animal it would be a caffeinated hummingbird, but she IS a muse. Inspiration flows through her veins due to her very nature, and she likes to think out loud. But to answer your question, I figured that if I was going to write a comedy that included a muse as a character, I’d do well to make it the muse of comedy. (Thalia is named as the muse of comedy in the original mythology.) But I also figured that the nine muses would have to take on new duties when the modern genres came into being. As a sci-fi geek, I thought it would be fun to give her that responsibility as well. Douglas Adams got his ideas from somewhere, after al l…
BGN: “Apollo, a compulsive overachiever with a bursting portfolio of godly duties, risks his very godhood to help sarcastic TV producer Tracy Wallace and a gamer-geek named Leif — two mortals who hold the key to Zeus’s resurrection.” Is this conflict a subliminal history of your personal experiences with life?
Michael G. Munz: Oh, I certainly hope not! I try my best to AVOID responsibility as much as possible. (That’s why I’m a writer and not a doctor or an air traffic controller.) Apollo has always been my favorite of the Greek pantheon, though. He seems to be one of the more decent gods, at least in most cases. But he’s also got so many responsibilities in the traditional mythology: He’s the god of the sun, healing, archery, truth, light, prophecy, music, literature, etc. (He’s also picked up gelatin desserts at the start of “Zeus Is Dead.”) It seemed like he’d be a pretty busy guy, especially if the entire world was looking to him for favors in all of those categories, which could swiftly lead to some massive internal conflict for the poor guy.
BGN: In your bio, it states you were born in Pennsylvania but moved to Washington state in 1977 at the age of 3. Unable to escape the state’s gravity, you spent most of your time studying writing. What was the state’s gravity?
Michael G. Munz: Oh, 9.8 meters per second squared same as anywhere else on Earth. But, really, that line in my bio is just me being figurative and trying to say — in what some generous individuals might consider to be a clever way — that I like it here and haven’t found cause to leave. Western Washington is a nice mix of forests, oceans, mountains and sky, with some pretty interesting cities scattered about. Having friends and family here helps keep me around, too.
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