By Madeline Ury
Pittsburgh Current Intern
Pittsburgh native and author Cat Bruno describes herself as a “writer of tales dark and fantastic.” Her latest novel, Nemesis (Painted Quill Press, 2018), is exactly that. Following an ordinary woman on a quest for revenge, the crime-thriller is interwoven with aspects of real-life and Greek mythology. The November 2018 release of Nemesis follows Bruno’s four-book series Pathway of the Chosen. Bruno spoke to the Pittsburgh Current about the novel and her writing process.
Where did the idea to intertwine Greek Mythology with a story of an ordinary, modern woman come from?
I’ve spent the last ten years as a fantasy writer, but last year decided I wanted to explore pop fiction and attempt to write a book with a broader appeal. I guess you can’t take the fantasy out of the writer and as I examined the idea of female rage, I thought about the myths and tales of the past that have looked into this same idea which led me to the ancient stories of mythology. Combining the two – the ancient world with the modern one – just seemed to come together so perfectly, especially since the protagonist had a real connection to these mythological gods and goddesses from her work as a photographer. And you’re right, the protagonist Dandelion is just an ordinary woman when the story opens, yet becomes so much more as it progresses.
What interests you about mythology? Is it something you personally are interested in, or did it just feel right for the book?
Mythology has long been an obsession of mine, and the stories that come from it are filled with so many literary devices, from symbolism to personification to incredible imagery and foreshadowing. But it’s the characters who, in my opinion, steal the show. They are always larger than life and so masterfully crafted. Gods and monsters, heroes and villains, warriors and kings. And pretty significant female characters as well, which is often the focus on my own writing. Blending mythology with Dandelion’s descent into madness felt like a very natural and a very real thing, until the reader does not quite know which reality is the right one: modern day Columbus, Ohio or ancient Greece.
Tell me about the research process in writing about the gods and goddesses.
I owe much of it to a few websites that have done the heavy lifting, so to speak, especially theoi.com, which has the best compilation of myths and art connected to Greece and Rome. Lots of fact-checking and hundreds of visits to that site and a few others. In addition, I was able to track down a few academic books that analyzed vague connections and allusions and expanded upon them. For example, toward the end of the book, a character named Griffin shows up. And thanks to a classics professor whom I’ve never met, I was able to discover the very obscure relationship between Nemesis and the gryphons of mythology. And his arrival in the story is just as significant as the role the gryphons had with the goddess. I really lucked out with that connection, as I had never read anything about it before.
How was the writing process different from writing your previous novels?
The book is set in 2018, so the language and cadence are completely different than my fantasy series. And since it is a first person narrative with a protagonist who breaks down the fourth wall, I was really able to have some fun with language and the relationship between the reader and Dandelion. It’s almost as if she is live on social media or over-sharing, yet she thinks she is an ancient goddess. It’s that contradiction that I find so interesting.
Talk about Dandelion’s decision to stay with William.
For most of the book, revenge is more important to her than her own happiness. And that gets tested when she meets Mickey, who offers her a chance at a better love. One of the main forces of the story is her anger, and the collective anger that women have been feeling the last few years.
I would be curious to hear the perspectives of other characters. Did you consider writing a chapter from anyone else’s point of a view?
This is Dandelion’s story. By that I mean I intentionally didn’t want to allow the reader to have any outside analysis or opinion affect their interpretation of what is happening to her. Is she crazy or is she the reincarnated Greek goddess of vengeance? It’s up to you, the reader, to decide.
Do you have any thoughts on Nemesis becoming a series?
Sort of. Without giving away too many spoilers, I have a strong idea for my next book, and it will be a direct result of what happens in the last chapter of Nemesis.