Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Ask the Author - Marie Phillips

Ask the Author - Marie Phillips

Mr B's Tremendous Tuesday Book Group recently discussed "God's Behaving Badly" by debut novelist Marie Phillips. We put together a few questions based on the lively discussion that was enjoyed by all present and put them to Marie by e-mail. Here's what she had to say:
Mr B - Some of our book group members wondered whether Terry Pratchett’s book Small Gods provided any inspiration for Gods Behaving Badly?
Marie - Not directly. I have read it, when it first came out, but I don't remember much about it, and I deliberately avoided reading anything similar to the idea of Gods Behaving Badly once I had decided to write that. But Terry Pratchett's writing style was definitely an influence of me, I read the early books in the Discworld series when I was in my teens and first writing my own stories, and I think the sense of humour and skewed view of the world have stayed with me.

Mr B -Are you planning a sequel to Gods Behaving Badly? If not, what do you think the world of GBB would be like now that the gods have regained their powers?

Marie - I've got no plans for a sequel as yet, though never say never. I did, in an early draft, write an epilogue about the world now that the gods have got their powers back. Perhaps depressingly, I thought that things would carry on pretty much as before. I can't imagine that lot effecting much of an improvement. And humans will always find things to argue about (with a little help from Ares).

Mr B - Where did the idea behind GBB come from?

Marie - The idea for the book came when I was helping a friend make a documentary in a school, and the teacher was talking about the differences between the gods of the ancient world and the modern Judeo-Christian God, and I found myself thinking: 'what if the Greeks were right?' But lots of other things inspired me once I'd got the idea.

Notably childhood memories: of stories from Greek myths which we were read at primary school; of movies like Clash of the Titans with their Ray Harryhausen monsters - which is utterly how I imagine Cerberus; and of the Offenbach operetta Orpheus in the Underworld, of which I saw a fantastic production designed by Gerald Scarfe when I was around ten years old. So the gods have been sitting in my mind all this time, waiting for their moment...

Mr B - Religion, except for Christianity, doesn’t really come in to the book. How would your gods have viewed other world religions?

Marie - With a mixture of resentment and contempt. Although Aphrodite might have liked some of the nude artwork.

Thanks very much indeed to Marie for taking time to answer these questions and to her publicist Chloe for arranging the e-interview.

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