Mon
Mar 30 2009 12:13pm
Death’s Daughter...in 60 Seconds

Actress-turned-fantasy-author Amber Benson told Tor.com that her new book, Death’s Daughter, is her attempt to tell a story about a woman going on the “hero’s journey.”

“I wanted her to be fallible and flawed—not wanting to answer the call to the quest then finding the reserves inside of herself to not only answer the call, but to complete the quest in a timely and kick-ass fashion,” Benson said in an interview. “I get sick of seeing female characters as victims and I really wanted a proactive character that made things happen for herself. And when she is faced with things outside of her control, she doesn’t turn into a simpering mess, nor does she accept things without questioning them. She is an everywoman forced into an uncompromising situation and she acts accordingly. Calliope follows in the footsteps of many contemporary urban fantasy heroines, but she puts her own spin on the genre, at the same time.”

The book follows the travails of Calliope Reaper-Jones, a young woman whose father is Death. “Death is run like a corporation and when her father is kidnapped, she has to eschew her normal life in order to take over the company and to find out what happened to her father,” Benson said. “Calliope is an immortal due to her parentage, but she wants nothing to do with the supernatural world. She wants to live in Manhattan and be a normal girl. She loves fashion and anything she can snatch off the sales rack. When she is thrust back into the supernatural world, she is very resentful at first, but as she embarks on the quest to take on her father’s mantle, she finds that she is better equipped to handle the Afterlife than she ever suspected.”

Death’s Daughter incorporates a lot of mythology into the urban fantasy template, which is no surprise, considering that before turning her hand to acting and writing, Benson wanted to be a mythologist. “I have a very distinct memory of watching Joseph Campbell talking about mythology on PBS with Bill Moyers,” Benson said. “I actually applied to UC Berkeley’s Celtic Studies Department. That’s how much I loved myth and religion. It was only as I got older that I realized I liked the storytelling components of myth and religion more than I liked the dogma. So, writing Death’s Daughter just seemed like a good way to incorporate all the stuff I personally love with a sort of irreverent female protagonist. I was very inspired by Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Thorne Smith’s The Night Life of The Gods. I knew from reading those incredible books that you could mix myth and fiction and have a very positive outcome.”

Death’s Daughter is the first of three books in Calliope’s series. “I decided to make them sort of a ‘mash note’ to Dante’s Divine Comedy,” Benson said. “The first book takes place in hell, the second in Purgatory and the third in Heaven. ... I very much wanted to create an afterlife that incorporated every religion/and or mythology. I thought if I could create a fantasy world where the world’s religions got along then maybe there might be some hope for the real world.”

2 comments
scifidavid
1. scifidavid
Mr. Adams, I am extremely pleased to see that your articles on books have found a new home on Tor.com. Your articles were my favorite aspect of scifiwire for a number of years. I was quite dissappointed with that changes to the website earlier this year. I am very glad to be able to read your thoughts on books again. I am not sure how late I am in dong so, but please allow me to say congratulations on finding a new on-line home at Tor.
scifidavid
2. Timothy Carl Buchheim
Sounds a bit like Susan Sto Helit. :-)

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