Friend Friday

Today’s guests are supreme examples of writers who have built long, successful careers through hard work and innovation. Joan Holub and I have a special connection (my name inspired one of her chapter books about pen pals!) and Suzanne Williams has been a good friend since we were baby writers. The post below gives you a peek into the creative thinking that keeps them coming up with new ideas. Join me in celebrating their newest collaboration, the Little Goddess Girls series (Aladdin Quix/Simon & Schuster).

Artemis & the Awesome Animals is the fourth book in Joan Holub’s and my Greek mythology/Wizard of Oz-inspired Little Goddess Girls series. (Aladdin Quix/Simon & Schuster).  In keeping with the Quix line’s motto, it’s a “fast fun read” for kids five to eight years and contains helpful word and character lists.

When Joan and I joined forces to write our first series together ten years ago (the middle grade series Goddess Girls, which will reach 30 titles by 2022), neither of us had any idea just how many books and series we’d wind up partnering to write. It’s been a joyful experience, and we feel lucky we’re so compatible, both professionally and personally. 

Little Goddess Girls is our fifth co-written series. By now, after years of writing together, we operate as a well-oiled machine! And because of the technology available these days, the fact that Joan lives in North Carolina and I live in Washington State is no barrier to collaborating. 

To be totally honest, Little Goddess Girls got its start because, after writing several middle grade series together, Joan and I yearned to write something shorter for a change. Since mythology-based series are kind of our “brand,” it was natural for us to think of writing a series with younger (eight-year-old) Greek goddesses. 

It was Joan who came up with the idea of mixing Oz books with Greek myths to inspire plots and characters. (But only those Oz books that are in the public domain, of course.) 

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, served as a framework for the first four books in our series. It was fun deciding which of our young goddesses would be stand-ins of a sort for the various characters in the Oz books. For example, Athena, who is whisked in a storm to magical Mount Olympus in Book One, is our Dorothy stand-in. Persephone, goddess of plants and flowers, who readers first meet when Athena comes upon her rooted in a field, is our scarecrow stand-in. Aphrodite, who is a wee  bit heartless despite Athena and Persephone rescuing her from a shell in which she is trapped in Book Two, is our tin woodsman stand-in. And Artemis, goddess of the hunt and animals, who is scared of almost everything, is our cowardly lion stand-in. In addition, there’s Medusa, our wicked witch-like character, and Zeus, our boy wizard. 

In Artemis & the Awesome Animals, evil Medusa, who is determined to get her hands on the winged sandals that fly to Athena and slide onto her feet when she first lands on Mount Olympus in Book One, finally gets her comeuppance. (Spoiler alert: She is turned to stone, not melted.) That’s not the end of the series, however. Athena and other young goddess girls will come back to Magical Mount Olympus for more adventures in Books 5 – 8, also based in part on other Oz books. 

Stuck at home because of the pandemic, Joan and I have had more time to write than usual. (And yes, we realize how lucky we are to have work that can be done at home!) That surplus of time has allowed us to turn in first drafts of Books 5 – 8 months ahead of deadline. Yay!  The fifth book in the series, Athena & the Island Enchantress is currently scheduled for publication August 25th, with Books 6 – 8 to follow in Spring and Summer of 2021.

Readers don’t need to be familiar with the Oz books or The Wizard of Oz film to enjoy Little Goddess Girls. They also don’t need to be steeped in Greek mythology. Still we hope the series will inspire an interest in finding out more about both!

Many thanks to Kirby for kindly asking us to join her on “Friend Friday.” 

Happy reading, everyone!  Please take care and stay safe!

Suzanne (and Joan)

In addition to the Little Goddess Girls and Goddess Girls series, Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams are co-authors of Heroes In Training (ages 6 – 9); Grimmtastic Girls (ages 8-12); and Thunder Girls (ages 8 – 12).