Hi, everyone! Today I’m here with an interview with debut author Elizabeth Tammi, author of Outrun the Wind, which comes out on the 27th of this month (and which, by the way, I really enjoyed! sapphic ladies in ancient Greece? YES.). We chatted about retellings, finding time to write in college, the process of being a debut author, and more. Enjoy!
about the book
Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi
Published by FLUX on November 27, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings, Young Adult
Goodreads • Book Depository
The Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued from a harrowing life as an Oracle of Delphi, Kahina is glad to be a part of the Hunt; living among a group of female warriors gives her a chance to reclaim her strength, even while her prophetic powers linger. But when a routine mission goes awry, Kahina breaks the first rule in order to save the legendary huntress Atalanta.
To earn back Artemis’s favor, Kahina must complete a dangerous task in the kingdom of Arkadia— where the king’s daughter is revealed to be none other than Atalanta. Still reeling from her disastrous quest and her father’s insistence on marriage, Atalanta isn’t sure what to make of Kahina. As her connection to Atalanta deepens, Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’ second rule.
She helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage, and word spreads throughout Greece, attracting suitors willing to tempt fate to go up against Atalanta in a race for her hand. But when the men responsible for both the girls’ dark pasts arrive, the game turns deadly.
For those of our readers who aren’t familiar with Outrun the Wind, could you briefly tell us what your book is about?
Sure! So, in short, Outrun the Wind is a YA sapphic reimagining of the story of Atalanta from Greek mythology. There’s also an escaped oracle, a deadly footrace, and plenty of other mythological mayhem involved, haha.
Outrun the Wind is a retelling of the Greek myth of Atalanta. Hers is a story many might not be familiar with. What drew you to Atalanta’s story in particular?
Atalanta is really one of very few prominent, mortal female figures from Greek mythology. Her story is absolutely fascinating– she has unmatched speed and accuracy, and is incredibly bold and ambitious considering her era. I’m completely enamored by her ferocity and spirit, and felt a deep connection to her almost as soon as I read about her original myth.
As the author of a retelling, how did you decide what to keep from the original mythology, what to change completely about it, and what new elements you wanted to add into your version of the story?
It’s a tough balance, for sure. Outrun the Wind definitely reinterprets and sometimes flat-out ignores aspects of Atalanta’s original myth, and I knew that would be the case, so I tried not to obsess too much about incorporating every detail I could find about her life into the book. Half of the story is told from an entirely original character’s perspective, which definitely helped me expand my own plot and explore new conflicts and motivations. I used the main, overarching plot points from the original myth as ‘markers’ throughout OTW– like the Calydonian Boar Hunt, the footrace, and Atalanta’s relationship with her father. Other than that, I let myself imagine what might have happened in between, or in the background. What I aimed to do was offer an entirely new spin, but also, if someone were to ‘zoom out’ of the story and see it not from Atalanta or Kahina’s perspective, have all the main events of the original myth still technically seem unchanged, if that makes sense.
I read that you wrote Outrun the Wind during your freshman year of college. How did you balance school, extracurriculars, a social life, general life stuff, and writing a novel?!
Well, short answer– it wasn’t always pretty or balanced, haha. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible, either! When I first got to college, I already had the idea for OTW. I definitely wanted to make the most of my freshman year, and I think I did– I made good friends, joined organizations, and fell into the rhythm of college. But my courseload was a bit light my first semester, so I was able to sneak in an hour or two of writing time late at night. The key wasn’t necessarily doing a LOT of writing on a few days, but a little bit of writing EVERY day.
What do you hope readers will take away from Outrun the Wind?
I hope that readers consider how history and stories get passed down to us over time. Who’s telling them? How might information and ideas evolve over time? Historiography is a really interesting subject, and in any case, I hope OTW can serve as a reminder that queer girls have always existed and cannot be erased from history.
Can you talk a bit about being a debut author? It seems like such an exciting time! How has the process been for you?
It’s been a complete whirlwind! I mean, I signed the contract for OTW back in October 2017, so it’s been a long time coming, but I’m still shocked that its release date is almost here! I’ve had a great time connecting with other debut authors and readers who have talked to me about early copies of OTW. It’s a surreal year, and as fantastic as it’s been, it’s also definitely scary and nerve-wracking! But I try to focus on the positive aspects, because there are a lot, and I’m very thankful.
Finally, since I know you’re a fellow choir person, I have to ask: do you have any favorite choral pieces? Are there any that remind you of Outrun the Wind?
That’s so cool! I love singing, and had a great time being a member of the Florida All State Choir, then Mercer Singers at college (though unfortunately, I had to drop it in order to make more time for writing and required classes). But I’m still a member of Mercer’s acappella group, which I love. Anyway, I honestly didn’t really associate any choral music specifically with OTW, but some of my favorite pieces I got to sing last year include “Unclouded Day” arr. Shawn Kirchner
, and “She Walks in Beauty” arr. Kevin Memley
Thanks so much to Elizabeth for coming on the blog! Have you read Outrun the Wind? If so, let’s discuss! If not, do you plan to read it?
Madalyn is a 20-something musician and lifelong lover of reading. When she's not reading or singing, you're likely to find her drinking coffee, traveling, or buying more lipstick than one person could possibly need.
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