Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Creating Cupid with Guest Blogger: Elysa Hendricks

Chat with our Featured Author 
of the Month Elysa Hendricks 
today at the Book Boost!

I'm often asked where I get my ideas for my stories. Usually I say that I "pluck them off the Idea tree I have growing in my backyard," but the truth is there are stories to be found everywhere I look and in everything I see, hear or read.

Story telling has been around for as long as mankind. There might not be any "new" stories to tell, but every author tells the story in her own unique way. We take myths, fairytales and history, twist them, bend them and reshape them into something fresh and exciting for our readers. Valentine's Day and the myth of Cupid are ripe for storytelling.

Valentine's Day didn't start with Cupid. Cupid, of course, is the God of Love from Greek mythology. The earliest recorded version of Cupid is the one told in Lucius Apuleius's novel, The Golden Ass, written in the 2nd century AD, which goes like this:

Psyche is a princess who is so beautiful the goddess Venus is jealous. So Venus asks her son Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with an ugly mortal. Instead Cupid falls in love with Psyche. Meanwhile, Psyche's parents are concerned that she is so beautiful no one will marry her. The oracle of Apollo, tells them to prepare her for marriage and leave her on a cliff. Eager to find a husband Psyche accepts her fate.

Instead Cupid transports her to a beautiful palace where he lives with her as an unknown, invisible lover. But Psyche is urged by her sisters, who are jealous of the wondrous stories she tells of her new life, to find out what her husband looks like. Afraid she might be married to a monster she peeks at Cupid while he sleeps and learns he's a god. She frightens him (this doesn't make sense to me, but heck, I didn't write the story), so he goes back to the realm of gods.

Broken hearted Psyche returns home. She begs the gods to reveal her lover. Venus answers, but still jealous sets her to a series of difficult tasks, including a trip to Hades. With the help of other gods, including, for the last task, Cupid himself, Psyche is made immortal and is officially married to Cupid. My favorite part of this story is that Psyche and Cupid then had a baby, Voluptas (Pleasure) but she was conceived before their official wedding.

The story of Cupid and Psyche is full of story ideas an author can mine. Since statues of Cupid and Psyche go back to 323 BC, Apuleius seems to have done some mining of his own. Recognize the Beauty and the Beast and the Cinderella aspects of the story? Guess I'm in good company.

The story of Valentine's Day doesn't have its origins in the Cupid myth. Instead the celebration of Valentine's Day was originally based around several saints named Valentine. Now with the help of florists, greeting card and candy companies it's been turned into a romantic celebration, so that over the years Cupid and Valentine's Day have become intimately entwined in our minds. You can't think of one without the other. The image of a cute, winged, chubby little cherub flying around shooting people in the heart with love arrows on Valentine's Day is now in ingrained in our psyches.

Cupid's Apprentice is my own twisted take on the Cupid myth and the Valentine's Day celebration. Since the human population has exploded the poor God of Love is completely overwhelmed. In addition he has to deal with Psyche (she doesn't want him accidentally falling in love with anyone else), so he's had to take on apprentices.

Cupids' Apprentice is about one bumbling apprentice, her wish to earn her wings, and the two, mismatched people she has to bring together against all odds before Valentine's Day.

A Note from the Book Boost:  I love Valentine's Day and as a romance writer, can't imagine a world without romance or the search for romance.  Thanks for the history lesson and your book sounds fabulous!


To earn her wings, Cupid's apprentice Medarda "Dar" has until Valentine's Day to match two-time Loser Laura Quinn with Boring Brian Hoffman. When Dar's love arrow goes astray and hits the sexy PE teacher Flynn Sullivan instead things get interesting.

Laura loves teaching high school in the small town of Council Falls, but knows it's only a matter of time until her famous mother shows up and the quiet life she's created comes crashing down around her ears.

PE teacher Flynn Sullivan's been interested in the shy history teacher for a long time, but it isn't until they're forced to chaperone the Valentine's Day dance together that he gets the opportunity to make his dreams come true.

With time running out can one bumbling Cupid's Apprentice bring together a Jock and a Brain?

Excerpt (edited for content):

Dar puffed into the room just as the woman said Laura's name. Though invisible to the humans, a couple of them shifted away. Some humans seemed to sense the presence of a Cupid.

She was almost too late. Timing was nearly as important as aim. Where were her targets? Laura sat in the back of the room. Hmm, interesting. What was plain, bland, boring Laura doing with two handsome men? Guess it didn't matter. They weren't important to her mission. Dar took a brief moment to admire their looks. Too bad one of them wasn't her target. Attractive people were so much easier to create love matches for than dowdy spinsters and stuffy middle aged men. Just her luck to pull the short straw on her first solo assignment.

She sighed and shrugged off the tension riding her shoulders. If wishes were horses, they'd all be Cupids. She searched the crowed room for Brian.

Darn! The man was on the opposite side facing away from Laura. This was going to be a tricky shot. For her spell and potion to work, Dar needed to put her love arrow through Brian's heart then into Laura's.

While in transit she'd prepped her arrow with the appropriate potion and readied her spell. Each potion was carefully calibrated to its intended subjects and each spell was custom written by the attending Cupid. Hitting the wrong targets or in the wrong order could be disastrous and result in unexpected consequences.

She worried her bottom lip as she notched her arrow in the bow. She'd nearly failed her potions classes. Fortunately the office provided the potions for apprentices. She wouldn't have to formulate her own until she made apprentice first class and got some wings. At least she'd excelled in her spell composition classes and despite dumping a quiver of arrows, took first in her archery lessons.

Holding her breath she raised her bow and took aim.

"Love's arrow tried and true finds its mark. Hearts pierced. Love's released to find its mate." The spell spilled from her lips as the arrow flew.

Bull's-eye! A dead hit. Brian jerked slightly and looked around in bewilderment.

Then at exactly the wrong moment as the arrow headed toward Laura, another woman walked in front of her. The woman tripped as the arrow rocketed through her then hit the wall next to Laura with an audible smack and dissolved in a cloud of pink smoke.

She was so screwed.

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