I’m so very excited to have Mina Lobo visiting today. Mina is awesome and brilliant and all the things, and she has a book coming (That Fatal Kissout later this year that everyone needs to read. She’s so fantastic even, that when she offered to travel to the underworld instead of sending me, and…you know what? She explains it much better than I can, so I’m going to turn this post over to Mina.
I felt a bit silly approaching Hades and Persephone, King and Queen of the Greek Underworld, with a request for an interview. For one thing, I’ve known them for well over a decade, and what I didn’t already know about this dashing duo didn’t seem worth knowing. Too, they’re an extremely important and busy pair, who jealously guard their limited time together. Hades, you see, is obliged to part with Persephone for six months out of every twelve, due to the infamous deal brokered by his brother, Zeus, so that her mother can have an equal share of the goddess’ company.
But the generous Allyson Lindt offered this wonderful opportunity for me to promote my upcoming novel, That Fatal Kiss, which recounts the turbulent tides of the couple’s courtship. So I asked them if they’d entertain a few questions. After much grumbling on Hades’ part, and only a few pretty exhortations on Persephone’s, my petition was granted.
At the appointed hour, I was whisked away to a grand courtyard, with four equal quadrates overflowing with olive trees, flowering bushes, and aromatic herbs. At its center, a fire pit blazed merrily, making me wish I’d had the foresight to bring marshmallows. The Lord and Lady sat upon a stone bench and, after we’d exchanged greetings, I looked about for some similar accommodation. Noting my glances, Hades waved his hand and a bronze bench appeared beside me. A bit wobbly from being so suddenly transported, I sank into it gratefully, though I did stiffen when the goddess said, “Oh, not that one, Hades. Why, if she gets stuck—”
“Now, now,” Hades forestalled her, putting an arm around Persephone while taking her hand in his free one. “We mustn’t give away all our secrets.”
Persephone rolled her eyes, then turned a welcoming expression to me. “Why don’t you get started with the interview, Mina dear?”
Her beauty would’ve blinded me if not for the warmth emanating from it. With golden brown curls tumbling about her shoulders and liquid amber eyes in which anyone would willingly drown, it wasn’t difficult to discern what had driven Hades to kidnap his bride. My eyes flickered to the Lord of the Dead, and the contrast between her shining light and his all-encompassing darkness struck me. Yet, his rugged features softened as he gazed down at Persephone’s profile, and when he turned his dark, almond-shaped eyes my way, I caught the tenderness for her which he could not always conceal.
Evidently irritated by being caught adoring his wife, Hades’ face grew rigid and he said, “Yes, be about your business, mortal, that we may soon return to ours.”
I flipped open my notebook while clicking my ballpoint into readiness. “As I mentioned during our earlier chat via Enchanted Viewing Mirror, I’ve only five questions for you, which oughtn’t take up too much of your time. Number one: what are your favorite childhood memories?”
At the goddess’ look of dismay and the god’s arched brow, I belatedly remembered that Hades, and almost all of his siblings, had been gobbled up by their father, Cronus, former King of the Gods, at birth. This he did to prevent a sort of divine coup though, as any ancient Greek would tell you, you can’t change the course of your destiny. (Just ask Oedipus.)
“All I recall of my childhood is that it was dark,” Hades finally said. “And cramped.”
“My favorite memory,” Persephone chimed in, “is of tormenting my sister Artemis.”
Hades’ grin transformed him as he regarded her. “You became rather an expert at provoking the girl, didn’t you?”
“It wasn’t a difficult task to master.”
“Next question,” I said. “Family first, or friends?”
Hades promptly said, “Persephone, first and only. Everyone else can go to—”
“Aren’t you sweet?” Persephone interjected, emphasizing each word with a firm pat to his hand. To me, she said, “I will echo his sentiment.”
“I’m gratified to know you put me before all others.”
“Not at all,” she said. “To echo you, I must put myself first and only, exactly as you said.”
The god’s nostrils flared at her impish wink but he contented himself with a simple, “Minx.”
“Third question,” I cut in. “What’s your least favorite job or duty?”
At that, Persephone seemed to deflate. “Well, I haven’t had to do this just yet, but as queen here, it is my duty to…to punish, should a mortal justly invoke me to do so.”
“They tend to call upon me for that,” Hades pointed out.
“For which I thank the Fates daily,” Persephone said. “I don’t relish visiting vengeance upon anyone, whether deserved or not.”
“I find it rather rewarding to mete out justice,” Hades said. “You might say it’s an acquired taste.”
“You’ll forgive me if I never acquire it.”
As a goddess of healing and renewal, Persephone’s newer role as redresser of wrongs must prove challenging for her. Seeing the somber cast of her face, I tried to lighten the mood. “What’s your favorite dessert?”
The goddess did brighten at that, saying to her husband, “And don’t say my name or you’ll make the woman blush herself into a stupor.”
“I was going to say I enjoy those pomegranate custard tarts you make, though of course,” and here, Hades unleashed an impressively wolfish leer upon her, “you are a far tastier treat.”
“Naturally you enjoy my custard tarts,” Persephone replied with perfect composure. “At your advanced age, they’re about the only things you can manage to chew through with any success.”
I mentally gasped at this sharp dig regarding the disparity in their ages. But when the virile (and unmistakably potent) god leaned down to say into her ear, “When our guest departs, I’ll be glad to remind you of all that I can chew through at my advanced age,” I understood that this was one of their little games. Still, I shuddered at the look of intent in Hades’ eyes—Persephone was a brave gal indeed to tease him so.
“Last question” I said, grimacing at the way I’d squeaked. “If you could have any one thing in the entire world, what would it be?”
And that’s when Persephone redeemed herself, for she looked up at Hades and, with a smile that proclaimed the fulfillment of her every secret wish, said, “I already have him.”
Tears prickled my eyes, whether of envy or longing, I couldn’t be sure. I lowered my gaze to blink back the moisture and, when I looked up, found myself at Bryant Park, in New York City.
Understanding that the interview was at an abrupt end, I made my way to Grand Central Terminal, so I could commute back to the ‘burbs. As I crossed Fifth Avenue, the ground swayed alarmingly beneath my feet. I scurried to the curb and heard a guy ask his friend, “Dude, was that an earthquake just now?”
No, Dude, I thought to myself with a smile. That was a god and his goddess, rocking one another’s worlds.
* * *