Zeus looked down on the Parthenon, a scowl on his face. The view hadn’t changed in hundreds of years, plenty of tourists but not a single bloody worshipper. Something had to be done. Lots were drawn and the five losers, Pan, Hades, Hebe, Vesta and Janus ended up in a 3 bedroom semi in Brighton, tasked with overturning religious beliefs that had existed for millennia.
Needless to say, the five gods and goddesses faced a steep learning curve, but they soon realised that humans were far more entertaining than they had imagined. Once they’d adjusted, they embarked on their mission to rekindle belief in the ancient gods. They used the power of the media, home-made pharmaceuticals and questionable charm to divert the human race from their everyday worries, working on the premise that an uncluttered mind is a receptive mind. They were so successful that even Zeus, their boss, was impressed
During their sojourn on Earth they realised that their immortal life, debauched and luxurious as it was, was hollow and empty. Among the humans, they found fame and fortune, freedom to laugh and love. Pan and Hades, one a fickle sex addict, the other the brooding lord of the Underworld, discovered a passion so deep that it transcended worlds. Hebe and Vesta were lauded by feminists as they proved that, with enough self-belief, women really could have it all. Janus, thoughtful and serious, could see the past and the future and eventually decided that it was time for them all to return home to Olympus.
They’d had all tasted true freedom and refused to let it go. Callous, belligerent Zeus had his human followers back, but it came at a price. Mount Olympus would never be the same again. Gay marriage, divorce, women’s rights, a transgender boatman – the immortal deities learned to embrace them all.
However, as the decades passed, the gods and goddesses were, once again, slipping from the humans’ minds. The only thing for it was another trip back to Brighton, better prepared, with a greater understanding. This time they even took Cerberus, Hade’s three headed dog (although modified to fit in with canines on Earth).
Targeted Age Group:: Young adult/Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have always been fascinated by the ancient Greek and Roman gods and the idea came to me one day 'I wonder how they would cope if they came to live amongst humans in 2020'? I then reflected if they would live in a palace or a great mansion but I decided it would be much more fun if they ended up in a 3 bed semi in Brighton. From there The Gods at Number 23 was born and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed getting to know the characters!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Although this is a work of comic fiction, the characters were ancient gods so I didn't change their names for the book. As for which gods I chose, it was just a question of finding those who interested me most and who I thought would translate best in a modern day setting
The Gods at Number 23
Zeus looked down on the Parthenon, a scowl on his face. The view hadn't changed in hundreds of years, plenty of tourists but not a single bloody worshipper. Something had to be done. He had been resting on his laurels, enjoying a life of luxury and debauchery for so long that he hadn't realised people had stopped believing in him. He'd sent a survey round to all his fellow gods and goddesses, and it was clear that their customers, the human race, were not at all satisfied.
The gods were arrogant and didn't normally give a stuff what anyone thought of them but, without thought there was no belief and without belief, the gods were nothing. Not only that, with a lack of believers, came a depletion of their vast wealth, and that just could not be tolerated. As their fortunes dwindled, they'd all had to economise which had been very stressful as none of them knew how to prepare a budget. They had even had to downsize, meaning that the gods of ancient Rome and ancient Greece had all taken up residence on Mount Olympus, mainly because it had the best views. However, gods were never meant to live in close proximity and relationships were strained to put it mildly.
Before a full scale war broke out on Olympus, they had to try to revive their fortunes, so they were forced to come up with a plan. After many heated arguments, they decided that the only way they could prevent their own demise was to, once again, engage with human beings. Lots were drawn and the five losers ended up in a small, semi-detached house in Brighton….
Hebe, goddess of youth and beauty, was brushing her long, burnished hair and contemplating the day that lay ahead. She would definitely have to go to the market to get some avocados. She was going to make a face mask for each of her housemates — god knows they needed one — before heading off to her job on the make-up counter in Boots. As she continued brushing, she felt a tiny bead of sweat break out on her porcelain forehead, and she glared at the fireplace impatiently. A fire, which burned fiercely, the single flame reminiscent of a large penis, roared in the hearth.
"Vesta, do you have to? It's about 90 degrees in here." She fanned her face with her hand and moved further down the sofa. Moments later, there was a whoomph, a small pop and then a second, older woman was standing in the living room. She looked harassed and also slightly grubby; despite her best efforts, it was impossible to keep a working fireplace really clean.
"You know it's where I feel most comfortable Hebe; why must you complain so? I don't see why I can't have a few minutes to myself with everything I do around here." Vesta used the reproachful voice of the willing martyr. Hebe rolled her eyes as she watched Vesta straighten cushions and pick up plates that had been left on the table by the side of the sofa, tutting all the while. She was the goddess of the hearth and home, so tidying up came naturally to her. Hebe rose elegantly from the sofa and moved over to the mantelpiece, so she could look in the mirror that hung on the wall above it. "You don't have to do all the housework you know; we're all perfectly capable of cleaning up after ourselves."
She turned this way and that, admiring her flawless beauty. She had alabaster skin; dark, almond-shaped eyes; and a perfect rosebud mouth that was currently pursed as she wondered why Vesta didn't follow any of the diet plans that she'd so carefully prepared for her. She also couldn't understand why she hadn't abandoned her traditional toga in favour of more stylish and exciting human clothes. She had offered to take Vesta shopping, but she seemed more interested in housework or sitting in her damn fireplace.
"Oh yes, I can just see Hades or Pan running the Hoover around or unloading the dishwasher. Don't be ridiculous Hebe, if I don't do it, we'll end up living in a filthy hovel and you know it." She looked disdainfully at Hebe, who was still admiring herself, and took the dirty plates out to the kitchen where she wrapped a pinafore around her ample waist and set about cleaning up. A lock of her long, light brown hair fell forward, and she brushed it back impatiently as she reminded herself that quarrelling with her housemates would serve no purpose. Her mouth turned down and her startling blue, but very tired, eyes focused on the mountain of washing-up in the sink "Gits!" she thought to herself "I miss the days when I had my virgins to do all this for me." She sighed deeply and turned on the hot tap before reaching for the washing-up liquid. "Dad would cry if he could see me now. I'm sure this isn't what he meant when he made me goddess of the hearth and home."
Vesta had lived a sheltered life, surrounded by her priestesses, who were prized for their chastity; they were universally known as the Vestal Virgins. In her more reflective moments, Vesta couldn't help but wonder if her life would have been more interesting if she'd been surrounded by goddesses like Hebe, but she would never admit it.
Hebe called out that she was going to work, and Vesta responded with a curt "Bye." As she shrugged on her perfectly fitting coat, Hebe wondered about Vesta's demeanour; on the one hand, she was naïve and seemed dedicated to taking care of their home; on the other, whenever she took refuge in the fireplace, a giant phallus could always be found burning there. "Oh well," she thought "each to their own." As a goddess, she was used to strange peccadilloes, but she rarely wasted much time thinking about others. "I wonder if the new Dior Spring eye make-up palettes have arrived."
With that, she was out the door and on her way to the North Street branch of Boots, ready to start another day of beautifying humans. She liked a challenge. Goddesses don't wear make-up as a rule, so when Hebe had discovered the world of cosmetics, she was immediately captivated. Before they'd come to Brighton, she'd always assumed that human females were pretty much like goddesses, and she'd been sadly disappointed. So much so, that she'd applied for the job in Boots. Her current mission in life was to beautify and keep the humans looking as young as possible for as long as possible. The other gods and goddesses had neglected to tell her that humans are not immortal, so she was certainly destined for further disappointment.
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