Prophecy is a young adult historical fiction set in ancient Greece. The story is told by Antigone, one of the princesses of Thebes, who is also the daughter of King Oedipus, famous for killing his father and marrying his mother. When the mysterious and devastating prophecies surrounding her family are revealed, Antigone must choose where her allegiance lies: With the gods who have betrayed her family but who she is obliged to serve? With her plague ridden city? With her family which lay in ruins? Or even with herself?
What was the research process like with Prophecy?
I have a BA and MA in Classical Studies, so I feel like I’ve been researching this book for around twenty years! When I decided to sit down and actually write Prophecy, however, I re-read Sophocles’ Oedipus plays (the main source of our information on Antigone) and looked up specific details of the culture that I was writing about, such as the mechanics of making sacrifices.
Ancient history is fascinating – which do you enjoy more? The research part or the writing? Will you have to do more research for the second novel, Fate?
I’m one of those people who love researching as well as writing, so it’s hard to choose! For Fate I did have to do more research — like what exactly Mount Olympus looks like (spoiler: Antigone goes there), a bit about Theseus (yes, he’s in the book a bit as well), and the events of Oedipus at Colonus, which is the play I’ve based the book on.
Can you please give us a brief overview of completing Prophecy, from the first time you penned it, to becoming published?
I first started writing Prophecy just over 4 years ago, when I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month (a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November). I edited that draft and entered it in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, where I made it to the quarter finals. From the feedback I received, I realized that the book was a bit long and needed more focus, so I decided to break it into a trilogy, with Prophecy being the first book. I then spent the next few years editing and rewriting off and on (while I also dealt with some medical issues). I got to the point where I realized that I could always keep editing, so finally took the plunge in December and decided to release the book.
Would you call yourself a plotter? Or did you write with no real path in mind – aside from the real Antigone’s life – during NaNoWriMo?
I wrote with no real path in mind. It was really fun to give Antigone her voice and let her run away on the page. So many interesting things came up, like her speaking to the snakes! I have no idea where that came from, but it worked perfectly and even down to the myth of how Thebes was founded and the involvement of Python, the Oracle at Delphi before Apollo took over.
What advice would you give to new authors in terms of marketing? What has worked for you so far and what hasn’t?
I’m still learning about marketing as I go. It is a slow process building up your audience. I’ve done free days on Amazon, Goodreads giveaways, book signings, and I participate in social media. I also reach out to bloggers like yourself who I think might enjoy my book. I actually find the most enjoyable marketing is when I forget about promoting my book and engage with others on social media for fun.
What is it about YA do you love to read?
YA has come so far from when I was the YA age. I find that YA books are often well written, full of imagination, and are prone to a bit of fantasy. It’s hard to explain completely, but I feel like there’s some amazing, boundary-pushing things going in in YA that make these books appeal to a wider audience.
What does your average day look like?
I’m a mom of 3 kids, so my days revolve around them. That and I like to be flexible with my time. I tend to write and edit in smaller chunks of time, but several times a day. I also go on the internet a few times a day and participate in social media or look up blogs that are interesting.
If you could plan a daily dream schedule what would it look like?
I guess I’m pretty close to a dream schedule in that I am quite flexible. If only I didn’t have to make dinners…
It’s getting there. I actually have it written, but realized that I need to make some major changes near the end, so am rewriting that part. Then I have to do a good edit and find some beta readers. Then do more editing. With any luck at all, it will be out by the fall.
I’ve read you wrote Prophecy during National Novel Writing Month, have you participated in the event since then?
Yes, I’ve participated every year for 7 years. I love the energy of it. Even if what I write goes no further, it’s been great for my brain and creative juices.
Are there any projects you’ve written during NaNoWriMo going to be published?
So far, just Prophecy, but I’m also working on a book, tentatively titled Betrayed about the life of Clytemnestra (who killed her husband, Agamemnon, on his return from the Trojan War), which started as a Nano novel a few years ago.
What advice would you give to writers wanting to participate in NaNoWriMo?
Do it!!! It’s really important to turn off that inner editor — that is the best part of NaNoWriMo, it advocated quantity over quality so that you can stop worrying if what you are writing is good and just get the words on paper. December is for editing. Also, the first year I did it, I put an ad in the community announcements of our local paper for a weekly NaNo meet up group. I met some other writers there and we kept each other going. I’m still friends with them. Mutual support can get you through those tough times.
Tell us about your writing group. What do you love about them? Do you recommend them to all writers?
My writing group are the most amazingly supporting people you could ever hope to know. We don’t meet up as often as we used to because things ebb and flow, but when we do, we share what we are doing, read each other’s work, keep each other accountable (if we need that), and even share other creative endeavours that we are doing. I am hard pressed to recommend something for everyone because we all work differently, but if you can find other supportive people, absolutely!
Did you meet the group through the ad you put in the paper for NaNoWriMo?
Some of them. Mostly, though, my writing group stems from another creative group I’m in called The Muse Guild, which is a group of lovely people with all different interests, from painting to collage to photography to pottery.
Do you read whilst writing? Or do you go through separate stints of each?
I read all the time. I had some eye problems recently that made reading difficult and found writing was also difficult. I need time away from my writing to let my brain work things out subconsciously, and reading is great for that.
What YA novels would you recommend?
There are so many good ones. I’ve recently read The Illuminae by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kirstoff which was fantastic and Rebel of the Sands by Alwayn Hamilton which I raced through. I have a soft spot for Graceling by Kristin Cashore and the Poison Study Series by Maria V. Snyder.
Are you an e-reader or physical book person?
I actually love both. When I was having my eye problems, my ereader was my saviour because I was able to make the font bigger. It was so hard to read otherwise. I also enjoy books by indie authors, so an ereader makes reading their books far easier. There is a mystique, however, to physical books and if it’s a book that is beautiful or I want to keep, I definitely need a physical copy.
Where is your writing space and what is it like?
I have a laptop, so tend to write wherever I feel comfortable — in bed, on the couch, at the table, at a coffee shop…
What is your life like outside your writing? Do you have a day job?
I don’t have a day job because of health issues, but, like I said, I’ve also got 3 kids. I enjoy walking, especially if there are trees around, I read, I dabble in painting (to be creative, not because I’m good), and I taxi kids around and feed them.
Do you ever paint your characters? (Or other characters/scenes from other books?)
No, my paintings are more creative explorations than works of art. I do like painting trees, though. Now that you mention it, I should give it a try!
Thanks so much for having me here — you’ve asked some really thoughtful questions!
Some places you can find Coreena:
An ancient princess, hidden prophecies, impossible choices…
Sixteen year old Princess Antigone, daughter of the infamous ancient Greek King Oedipus, wants to lead a normal life and fulfill her duty to the gods, her city, and her family, but fate has other plans. The Olympian gods bless her, the snakes talk to her, her parents want her to marry a foreign prince, her embroidery looks like burial shrouds for dogs, and she has fallen in love with the wrong boy.
When the mysterious and devastating prophecies surrounding her family are revealed, Antigone must choose where her allegiance lies: With the gods who have betrayed her family but who she is obliged to serve? With her plague ridden city? With her family which lay in ruins? Or even with herself?
In Prophecy, Book One of the Antigone: The True Story series, Antigone steps out of the shadows of the past to tell her own story, a story where truth of history is stranger than the fiction of myth.
My name is Coreena McBurnie and, ever since grade 5 when I had to do a report on Theseus and the Minotaur, I have had a soft spot for Greek mythology. When I hit university, I was drawn to the Classical Studies department (earning both a BA & MA), where I explored the archaeology and culture of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds — and also where I managed to read Homer’s Odyssey, one of my absolute favourite books, in the original Greek, something which was thrilling for me (I know, sounds crazy, but the poetry and scope of the original text is amazing). After a lifetime of “what is that?”, “why did you study that?”, and “what can you do with a degree in Classical Studies?” I have decided to write novels based in ancient myth and to bring so many of the stories I love to life for a modern audience, with my own spin, of course.
Prophecy, Book 1 in the Antigone Series, is my first published novel. Currently I am working on Book 2 in the Antigone Series, called Fate. I am also in the middle of another novel about Clytemnestra who is notorious in Greek myth for killing her husband, Agamemnon, when he returned home from the Trojan War. I love exploring the motives of strong women in ancient myth.
I live in BC, Canada with my husband, our three kids, and our cat, in a beautiful part of the country, on two rivers, surrounded by ranches, near ski hills, and only a couple of hours drive to the ocean.