Louis Markos: The Dreaming Stone

Feb 16, 2016 by

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An Interview with Louis Markos: The Dreaming Stone

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Professor Markos, you have just released a new, quite different book entitled, The Dreaming Stone. What led you to write this book?

Like a number of children’s books, this actually began as a book I wrote for my children when they were about eight and nine: the ages they are in the novel. As I wrote the chapters, one by one, I read them to the kids before bedtime. I wanted to make the Greek myths real for them in an exciting way that they could relate to. I wanted them to truly enter into the myths and be awed by them. The book allowed me to entertain and teach them at the same time. And I hope to do the same for all my readers, no matter their age.

2) In a sense, the book is somewhat educative in that it reviews many of the great figures of Greek mythology. Was it designed to do that?

Yes, I did want this to have much educational value, but in a fun and appealing way. I wanted to make the stories come alive in a very direct manner. I even chose to include pronunciation guides directly in the text whenever I introduce a new mythological character. Along with the myths, I want my child and adult readers to learn something about archeology and even a bit about modern Greek culture. My early scenes on the farm, by the way, come from my memories of visiting Greece as a boy back in the 1970s.

3) Your book has two main characters – Alex and Stacey – what are their personalities like and what seem to be the main lessons that they learn as they travel around Greece?

Their personalities are based directly on my two kids when they were that age. It’s fun in the book and real life, because our older son (Alex) tends to be a bit more cautious, while Stacey tends to be a bit more adventurous and mischievous. Our son has always been a kind and supportive older brother for his sister (which doesn’t happen in all families!), and he always did explain things to her and watch out for her as he does in the book.

4) Now, on to the Dreaming Stone- I am not all that familiar with Greek mythology- is there anything similar to this in the Greek literature?

I didn’t find any other books that did quite what I wanted do in my book. I found out later from my students about a show called the Magic Tree House, where kids go through time, but that wasn’t something I watched as a kid or knew about. There is, of course, the Percy Jackson series which came out after I had written the original drafts of The Dreaming Stone and its two sequels (due out Fall of 2016 and 2017), but in that series the descendants of the gods are living today. I wanted to play with time travel and allow the kids to actually become a part of the myths.

5) Alex and Stacey seem to encounter a number of key figures from Greek mythology- can you give us one example?

Well, what kid doesn’t want to fly, and so I made sure that they got a chance to fly in every possible way consistent with the Greek myths. First, they get to join Perseus as he sets out to kill Medusa, using his winged slippers to transport him (and the kids) to the Isle of the Dead. The flying horse, Pegasus, of course, makes an appearance, and he is born, as he is in the myths, out of the blood from Medusa’s severed head. I knew the kids would have to be given wings by Daedalus, so they could join the great artificer and his son (Icarus) on their tragic flight. Finally, since Phaethon, the son of the Sun god, gets a chance (also tragically) to fly his father’s golden chariot, I knew Alex and Stacey would have to accompany him as well.

6) Like Dante, Alex and Stacey seem to take a trip through the Underworld…..Did you intentionally juxtapose their trip or was it designed to simply review some Greek mythology?

In their trip through the underworld, I didn’t really have Dante in mind (though Dante is very often in my mind!). I was thinking more of Odysseus’s journey in Odyssey 11, and, before Odysseus, Orpheus. I also looked ahead to Aeneas’s journey recorded in Aeneid 6. All epic heroes must journey to the underworld, and so Alex and Stacey had to as well.

7) A more direct question–Why study Greek mythology and the ancient city states of Athens and Sparta and that part of the world?

The myths of ancient Greece, the defeat of the Persian Empire by Athens and Sparta, and the Golden Age of Athenian democracy that resulted are absolutely foundational to western civilization. We must know these tales; otherwise, we are asleep, like the father in the story who is in a coma. In the two sequels to The Dreaming Stone, Alex and Stacey will become, first, part of the Iliad and Odyssey, and then part of the birth of Athenian democracy and the war against Persia. This legacy must be reclaimed by our culture, which has sadly cut itself off from the past and from tradition.

8) You have managed in this book to almost develop an entire new realm or genre of literature- what I would call educative-myth-fantasy. What other authors have your emulated in this regard?

My biggest influence is The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. I wanted to transport children to a world of fantasy where they would have their courage tested and would learn timeless lessons about virtue. Also, like Lewis’s Narnia series, my book exists on two levels. It is a straight adventure tale filled with wonder and magic. But it also has a subtle Christian underpinning. In the case of The Dreaming Stone, the kids need to understand why it is that Greek mythology is like a candle while the Bible is like the sun. As they have their adventures, the kids (and the audience) seek and discover an answer to that riddle.

9) Where can readers get a copy of this wonderfully illustrated book- and can you tell us about the illustrator?

It is available at amazon, but you will get a better discount and good service if you buy it directly from the publisher at this link:

http://lampionpress.com/?product=the-dreaming-stone

I should add that the book is available in hard cover, paperback, and kindle.

10) What have I neglected to ask?

Many have asked me what the appropriate age for this book is. I think this book can be read and understood by anyone from age seven (second grade) to adult. It can also be read aloud to younger children. In fact, it would be my wish that children would first encounter this book by having it read out loud to them at bedtime, as it was originally conceived.

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