Monday, August 10, 2015

Meet I.T. Lucas, author of The Children of the Gods series

What inspired the Children of the Gods series?
Reflecting upon the mythologies of the Sumerians, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, Greeks, Romans and Norse, it struck me that their pantheons bore remarkable similarities, and it got me thinking, what if at the source of those myths were events and personalities that left an impact so profound that their echoes could be heard in the mythologies of civilizations continents and millennia apart.

The most fascinating were the original, the Sumerians, and yet they're not as well known as the others. More than seven thousand years ago, the Sumerian civilization had been more advanced - socially as well as scientifically - than those that came much later. The records found in archeological digs tell the story of an advanced society that knew all about our solar system and placed the sun in its center, with schools for children, both girls and boys, laws that protected personal property and afforded women the kind of rights they hadn't enjoyed since Sumer's decline and up until modern times.

The Sumerians accredited their gods with providing them with not only the blueprints for their civilization, and their advanced scientific knowledge, but with the creation of humankind itself - a hybrid they engineered for menial labor, combining the genetic material of a god and a less advanced creature. The abbreviated version of their creation myth isn't the only one to find its way into the bible, modified of course to fit its monotheistic agenda. Adam and Eve and the garden of eden, the garden of the gods, are there as well. Though in the Sumerian version, the snake is a sympathetic god who decides to grant them knowledge of a carnal nature (which is the way the term knowledge, or to know is used throughout the bible), giving humans the ability to procreate, which as hybrids they previously lacked. Another god, the head of the Sumerian pantheon, throws them out of the gods' garden, worried that he humans would rapidly multiply and pose a threat to the gods (implying that the gods were not as fruitful). The biblical story of the gods taking human mates, and the many children born from these unions - the near-immortals as I call them in my series - is also an abbreviated version of the Sumerian original. There are many more examples, in stories adapted for other mythologies as well as the bible, in which the Sumerian original makes much more sense, portraying the gods not as capricious and callous, but mostly as judicious and well meaning. 
Still, if it wasn't for a very modern day event, these musings might've never coalesced into a story. Learning of the Stuxnet computer worm - a virus that managed to damage the Iranian nuclear program - a computer program so ingenious, it seemed like alien technology, I couldn't help but think that perhaps we were given a little help, a nudge in the right direction... 
And that's how the idea for Children of the Gods was born - Ancient Sumerian mythology meets modern day computer technology.
Why paranormal romance?
I've always loved paranormal romance, with its larger than life alpha males, females that can kick some serious butt, and heart pounding adventures with a hefty dose of the extraordinary. Trouble was, even those that were well written and exciting, made no attempts to be even remotely believable, which bothered my logical mind. I can conceive of Vampires being a divergent species that have been hiding under our noses from time immemorial, but tracing from place to place in a cloud of molecules (that includes their clothes and weapons) is too much of a stretch. On the other hand, the ability to manipulate human minds to believe that they just poof out of existence, for me at least, is more plausible, and the same holds true for shape shifters and other mythological creatures. As to turning into a pile of ash in the sun, again, no such animal could exist in nature for obvious reasons, but there are plenty who shun the sun and suffer ill effects when exposed to it, as are many who utilize fangs and venom for various purposes, and those who have eyes that glow in the dark. 
Still, myths as persistent and as prevailing as the vampire, the shapeshifter, the phoenix and other mythical creatures, as well as modern time UFO and alien sightings, might not be purely the product of overactive imaginations. So, are they real or imagined? Or perhaps something in between, like very realistic, induced hallucinations, and misconceptions originating from encounters with members of an advanced species who exhibit some of the characteristics attributed to all those mythical creatures. Hm...

I made my best to leave the reader with the impression that it could happen, that the near-immortals in my story could exist, portraying them as an advanced version of humans. They are extremely long-lived and possess amazing regeneration abilities - which according to science, at least in theory, would some day be possible with the help of genetic manipulation. The less diluted members of the older generations have some minor sensitivity to the sun, but it's manageable with dark sunglasses and covered skin. (In the Sumerian depictions, by the way, their gods often sport what looks like goggles.) They have fangs, not to suck blood, but to administer venom. Their hearts beat and they eat and sleep, but they can appear dead, remaining in stasis for extremely long periods until brought back to life. Hence the 'undead'. And of course, the powerful mind control they have over humans, and again, not all possess the same level of skill, with some more talented than others in the various paranormal abilities they exhibit.
Are any of the characters based on real people?
No, most are either made up, or exhibit a mix of character traits of several people I know. Amanda's dramatic flare, for example, is based on my old piano teacher who had been the quintessential drama queen. Looking good well into her nineties, she had out lived four husbands while partying and cruising the world in heals and lots of makeup.  
Annani has some of me (but of course, writers often feel like gods when creating their stories), but the warm, whole hearted welcome she gives Syssi (in Dark Stranger Immortal) is based on the actual words my mother-in-law had said to me. I included this in my story to show that some mothers and daughters-in-law get along fabulously, and as part of a larger theme of meaningful female friendships.
I don't appreciate women putting down other women, or buying into the negative stereotypes men attach to us. I'm not going to portray every female character as an angel, there would be some rotten apples of the female variety in future installments, but don't expect a lot back stubbing or cat fights.
How about the steamy sex scenes?
Ahem... I read a lot and have a very vivid imagination...
It wasn't easy, and for a long time I've been undecided about how explicit the sex scenes should be, especially since I'm reserved to the point of being unable to tell a dirty joke. (I whisper in my husband's ear and have him tell it.) And having four sons who can't read what I write, I've been tempted to tone it down and turn it into a young adult series. (I'm still toying with the idea of producing a PG-13 version.) But in the end, I decided that my target audience would enjoy well written, emotionally satisfying sex scenes, and toning them down would take away from the experience. There aren't many Paranormal Romance Series for adults out there. I've read the entire J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood three times, and Kresley Cole's Immortals After Darktwice, and not only because they're amazing, but because I couldn't find anything comparable.

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