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Monday, August 7, 2023

Medusa's Sisters by Lauren J. A. Bear: A LETTER FROM THE AUTHOR

“What do they call these beasts?” asked another courtier.
“The songs out of Athens name them Gorgons, the dreadful. The mortal one is Medusa.”
“And the other two?”
The merchant shrugged. “Nobody knows.”
A vivid and moving reimagining of the myth of Medusa and the sisters who loved her
for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe and Genevieve Gornichec's The Witch's Hear

Dear Reader,
Ideas are trickly little things, difficult to find and hold. And they oftentimes require an arduous process, one that involves pacing or meditating, white boards and crumpled loose-leaf. Sometimes ideas arrive in bits and pieces, to be collected and assembled. And then, in the best of times, the synapses in the brain, or the voices of the muses, perfectly align and there it is, fully formed. The story.

The idea for Medusa’s Sisters came to me like that: a clear, instantaneous spark in a nursery nearly five years ago. My daughter was an infant and I was up with her for a nighttime feeding. This is typically when lack of sleep would send my exhausted, slightly manic mind spinning with questions like ‘How old is Steven
Spielberg?' 'What was the belle epoque?' 'How do you actually pronounce 'Worcestershire'?'

And then, one night: 'Medusa was one of the Gorgons. So, there must have been others. Who were they?'
I pulled up the Gorgons' Wikipedia article on my phone (over my sleeping baby's head) and read early 20th century classicist Jane Ellen Harrison's comment that Medusa was the real Gorgon. The other two sisters were just appendages.

In that moment, holding my daughter, I was a bit overcome. No woman is ever an appendage. My little girl would NEVER be dismissed as somebody else’s “plus one.”

I was going to make the Gorgon sisters matter.
For the next two years, I researched primary sources, searching for Stheno and Euryale in the mythological record. It was a bittersweet quest: on one hand, it bothered me that nobody ever asked what happened to these women, and then on the other hand, I knew I’d been presented with a delicious opportunity. The lack of information allowed me to reimagine these “monsters” as real women, real sisters, with relatable lives – ones full of love and jealousy, fun, pettiness, miscommunication, loyalty, and most notably, heroic strength of heart. To write the novel, I had to first read Homer and Hesiod, Aeschylus and Ovid, but Medusa’s Sisters strives for inclusivity – it’s a classics-inspired story written for everyone.
There is a current hunger for counter-narratives to the assumed and accepted histories to give voice to those who have been muted – and I understand why. For too long the old stories have depended upon the records compiled by an elite group of men. For too long, Medusa and the Gorgons have belonged to
Perseus’s journey. Not anymore! The modern reader cares about perspective and bias. We challenge the given testimony and ask better questions.
The woman with the snake hair has become, arguably, the most iconic image of the femme fatale. But nobody is born evil; monsters are made. I hope Medusa’s Sisters brings the Gorgons to life for you, that it
illuminates a too often discounted reality: even monsters have families.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your time.
All my best,
Lauren J. A.

Medusa's Sisters
by Lauren J. A. Bear
August 8, 2023
A vivid and moving reimagining of the myth of Medusa and the sisters who loved her.

The end of the story is only the beginning…

Even before they were transformed into Gorgons, Medusa, Stheno, and Euryale were unique among their immortal family. Curious about mortals and their lives, Medusa and her sisters entered the human world in search of a place to belong, yet quickly found themselves at the perilous center of a dangerous Olympian rivalry and learned—too late—that a god's love is a violent one.

Forgotten by history and diminished by poets, the other two Gorgons have never been more than horrifying hags, damned and doomed. But they were sisters first, and their journey from lowly sea-born origins to the outskirts of the pantheon is a journey that rests, hidden, underneath their scales.

Monsters, but not monstrous, Stheno and Euryale will step into the light for the first time to tell the story of how all three sisters lived and were changed by each other, as they struggle against the inherent conflict between sisterhood and individuality, myth and truth, vengeance and peace.


"Bold, beautiful, and brilliantly subversive, Bear's incredible debut is engrossing from the very first page. With her ambitious storytelling, Bear breathes life to characters often reduced to the shadows, and has proven herself as a talent to watch!"—Claire M. Andrews, author of the Daughter of Sparta trilogy

"A must-read for Greek mythology fans seeking new depth in their tales and those who enjoyed Madeline Miller’s Circe or Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls."—Library Journal (starred review)

"Debut novelist Bear has artfully fashioned an entrancing tale that not only perfectly captures in poetic prose both the fabled glories and gritty realities of ancient Greece, but also features a trio of sisters, who, despite being mythological beings, seem all-too real and relatable by virtue of Bear’s gift for incisive characterization."—Booklist

“Bear handles the different voices of Stheno and Euryale with masterful skill and wit… With stellar writing and her focus on Medusa’s forgotten sisters, Bear’s contribution to the sub-genre of mythic retellings is not to be missed. Highly recommended.”—Historical Novel Society
About the Author
LAUREN J. A. BEAR was born in Boston and raised in Long Beach. After studying English at UCLA and Education at LMU, she taught middle-school Humanities for over a decade — and survived! She is a teaching fellow for the Holocaust Center for Humanity, and lives in Seattle with her husband and three young children. She likes crossword puzzles and being on or near the water without getting wet. For more information -- or to subscribe to her newsletter, These Golden Lines -- head to

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