William Tudor, author of Theo’s Tricks and Other Greek Yarns, spoke at my local library on Thursday, 10/17/13. I had never been to a reading before except when an author came to my class while I was at CSU. He had some good advice but mostly, considering he had only published one book (and it was pretty boring at that), he seemed pretty full of himself. The only good tip I remember from him was “Don’t quit your day job.” Too often people will publish one book, quit their job to write full time, and then end up poor as dirt and unable to pay bills because their work doesn’t take off the way they thought.
Theo’s Tricks is about a girl named Cora and her mother and sister, Demi and Sophia. One day Cora disappears and her mother and sister go in search for her. They’re guided by Uncle Theo who leaves subtle clues to show them they’re on the right track. Along the way they have many adventures and encounter a variety of people.
William Tudor has taken the Greek myth of Persephone’s abduction by Hades and respun it to his liking. Cora is Persephone while Demi is Demeter and Sophia is Hecate. Other gods make an appearance such as DeVille (Cruella anyone?) as Hades and Yellow Pants as Helios. He never said which god Uncle Theo is (despite the question being asked) but I’m laying odds on Hermes.
I asked him how he went about getting his book published – self-publishing. He went through a subsidiary of Amazon.com and had to pay them a little something in order to publish his book. I did not ask how he went about getting his cover designed, though I should have, because it did not pertain to me. It wasn’t until an hour later that I even thought of the question.
I almost asked him why he chose to self-publish but decided against it as my courage had deserted me with that one publishing question. However, upon reflection as I drove home, I’ve come to the conclusion that Theo’s Tricks is probably a form of self expression. He had a particular story/idea that he wanted to convey and he wanted to do it in a specific way. Everything in that book shows the things he likes. I may even dare to say that it shows the things he’s passionate about.
He spent about 15-20 minutes of his 30-minute lecture speaking solely on his love of words and their origins. Most of what he read was read with those words in mind. As soon as he started talking about words that had Greek origins (not all originally from Greece but they could all be traced to Greece as being the country that spread them around), he lit up like my son did the other day when he saw that his reward for doing a good job in school that day was two new Star Wars Clone Wars movies from the library. Pure bliss. In that moment I almost laughed because he reminded me so much of my dad. He’s really curious about etymology as well. Can you spot the Greek word I just used? He turned his reading into a lesson for his audience – make a noise when you hear a Greek word. Of course, he’d pause for every Greek word.
And there were plenty of them.
Too many, I think, for his targeted audience. But did he target an audience at all? I’m not entirely sure because I haven’t read the book. But, from the parts he read to us, it sounded like it would’ve been gear toward Middle Grade kids. Except there were a bunch of large words that he playfully stuck in everywhere. This is one reason why I think he chose to self-publish rather than find an agent. I believe that, in order to put it in a catagory and fit the market, an agent would’ve made him change a lot of what he had so much fun putting in.
What would happen to his self expression then? It would no longer be something fun that showed his interests; it would be trying to sell a book to an audience. Maybe he didn’t care about making money so much as sharing what he thinks is super interesting. It certainly seemed that way at the reading.
All in all, the reading was an enjoyable event.
Is this book a good buy? I don’t know. I haven’t read it yet. The concept was interesting and the imagery he read had merit. I have it on hold at the library and will read it when the others are done with it. Hopefully soon. Or maybe not hopefully soon because I’m currently on an Agatha Christie kick and am scouring the shelves of my library for Christie’s Poirot novels.
There’s one thing I’m not quite certain about and that was his description of his Sophia character. He said she represents Hecate but, from what he read, she seriously sounded like the goddess Sophia. I’ll have to look up info on both goddesses to refresh my memory as they’re not in the main pantheon and they’re not popular or very well-known. Tudor should know his stuff – he said he’s been fascinated with Greek mythology for goodness knows how long – so I have to assume that he has his characteristics straight. The only explanation I can think of is that the two goddesses are very similar in intellect and there must be more to this character than he read that would point her to Hecate.
If you’re interested in buying William Tudor’s book, you can find Theo’s Tricks and Other Greek Yarns at Amazon.com. I have a feeling it’ll be a fun read if only to figure out what Greek myth/god matches what situation/character. Or, if you live in the Pacific Northwest, you may be able to get your library to order a copy for you. Perhaps other libraries across the nation have it as well. I’m not sure how library systems work with all of that.