Yesterday I posted a piece Ivy Reisner and I co-wrote for The Wittenburg Door. We’ve been critiquing one another’s work for a while, and now her novel Soldier of the Sun: Overthrowing Sebau is published! I’m ridiculously excited about this. I went to the publisher’s website on publication day and actually ended up getting a copy (due to a website glitch) before it was officially for sale.
This book is so much fun! Ivy generously agreed to come talk about her book with us, so here we are! If you have more questions for her, post them in the combox.
Q: I’ve read this already, but why don’t you tell us what the story is about?
It is the tale of a young psychic paralegal, and the deity who stalked her. Naomi is just trying to get through work and law school when she attracts the attention of Set, Lord of Chaos, and he takes a fancy to her. She’s not only not interested, she’s terrified of him. Things get worse when she is impregnated with a god-slaying knife via an enchanted onion bagel. Only Set has the power to protect her from the forces that would use her to destroy the sun barge, and the world.
There is so much potential in the mythology surrounding him, and so little of it is generally tapped. Typically you get the Set vs Horus stuff, but nothing of the other mythologies, and he’s always depicted as the villain. He was seen as the defender of the outlaying regions, the protector of the sun, the protector of outlanders, and the one who kept the desert from encroaching. He was the patron of misfits, so I made him a little geeky in the novel. He was the patron deity of Ramses II. I figured it would be fun to play off the heroic elements of his myth cycle.
Why is Set attracted to Naomi? I mean, he’s a few thousand years old and been around the block a few times.
He’s a few thousand years old, but he hasn’t had many relationships, and they haven’t gone well. First there was his sister-wife, Nephthys, who ends up pregnant by their brother, Osiris. After Set chops Osiris into fish food, and Nephthys and Osiris’ wife, Isis, put the peices back together, Nephthys runs off with the baby to hide, of all places, in the desert. Per one version, Set offers to raise the child as his own, Nephthys hides the boy and Set finds them. Per another, Nephthys hides the boy and Set finds them, and offers to raise the boy as his own.
In an odd twist, no one seems to think Nephthys does anything wrong. Set is imprisoned for a time in the stars, and Nephthys moves in with Isis and Osiris.
Anyway, after that he gets two fertility goddesses for wives, assigned to him by Ra for compensation after a dispute with Horus. We never hear much of those, so it seems a loveless union. In the novel he is totally clueless how to court a woman, and ends up trying some very bad interpretations of the instructions in an even worse self-help guide.
Naomi is unique in his experience. She has honor, which is what attracted him in the first place. Of the pantheon, there is no one he wants. Every mortal he showed the least interst in threw herself at him because of his position and power. Naomi will tease him (diffusing terror with humor, but he doesn’t realize that). She’s the one human seemingly willing to see him, not just his power. The thing is, she is seeing just the power, but reacting in a way that is so atypical, it confuses him. So the relationship is a mess at first, but there is a spark.
It sounds like you researched the heck out of this. Did you learn anything surprising?
A bit of history that plays nicely into the Set story. Set is Ra’s primary defender, kind of a divine bodyguard. Set is also Lord of Deserts. When Cambyses II sent his armies to threaten Ra’s temple in Siwa, a desert storm rose up and swallowed the army whole. It has not be found to this day.
Was it difficult to bring Set (in Naomi’s point-of-view) from “stalker” to “hero”?
It took a lot because she had to be shown that he isn’t just going to take whatever he wants from her by force, that even though the only thing with the slightest chance of staying his hand is his respect for her, that’s a sufficiently potent defense. Then she has to come to terms with exactly what you said–he’s been around the block a few times. He needs to show her that she’s more to him than a toy. Then she has to rethink his motivation for some of the earlier things that happened. It takes a bit of doing.
What’s your favorite part of this story?
When Naomi first meets Isis, she thinks Isis might help her with Set, or point her to someone who can help. She figures the pantheon has to have a way to police its own. So she gently tries to bring up the topic, and Isis tells her that she should be grateful Set allows her the honor of being his plaything.
In what way did the characters surprise you most?
Two things. The first is, early in the book, Set is fighting Apep and he’s throwing lightning around, and goofing off. He fights with a sword, not his strongest weapon, nor a typical one for him. He plays with his opponent, He stays in his Lord of Chaos incarnation. Understand, Apep is more powerful than most of the gods. Later, when he’s fighting a totally human seriel killer, he uses only his elemental attacks, and switches to his realm of Lord of Power. I didn’t realize at first that he brings out only his largest attacks in that fight, but he’s going by his emotions.
The second is Ra getting on Twitter. He’s all by himself most of the time, flying the sun around. In response to all that isolation he’s attracted to social media. In the second book he’s going to wish he had time to be bored. Set’s impulsive nature is going to cause Ra a lot of grief.
How do we all get our own copies of this story?
Thank you so much, Ivy! I’m so excited to read Overthrowing Sebau again, and I know everyone else will enjoy it too. 🙂