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Interview with Eleanor Duvivier, author of 'Helios Sphere'

A headshot of author Eleanor Duvivier
Eleanor Duvivier

Author Eleanor Duvivier answers five questions about her new book 'Helios Sphere' and reveals the mix of influences that ran this book together from her Grandma to marathons to the New Acropolis Museum in Greece.

Q1: Hi Eleanor, it is so good to have this opportunity to speak to you… First of all, I was wondering where the idea for ‘Helios Sphere’ came from. I know you’ve an interest in running and the classics, but it’s such an unusual story and has been told in such an engaging manner, could let us know the background to the story and how it came to you?

Hi Lesley, thank you for asking! The story of Helios Sphere manifested itself due to a couple of reasons. Firstly, in 2014 I went to Athens to run the marathon and genuinely stumbled across the artefact itself in the museum that Ben visits. I love the idea of giving ancient artefacts and mythologies a new spin. The character of Ben was created during my degree in Classical History and Creative Writing. Ben and The Sphere seemed to fit so well together, both sons with long lost or unspoken powers trying to make their way in the world. Q2: Did you write any of the manuscript while in Greece, or did you perhaps make notes during a holiday, with this story in mind? Did you always know the conclusion to the tale or did the story emerge organically? I did a bit of both. I was the first of my group to arrive at Athens, my two friends due to arrive a day late. I spent the first day prowling the museums and then I sat in the Café of the New Acropolis Museum in which I wrote my thoughts on The Sphere of Helios. I started writing on the plane home. A year later I revisited Athens to gather more information for correct scene setting for the Cape. I didn’t always know the conclusion and the conclusion changed as the characters grew. Q3: Five words that describe you. Five words that describe your writing… Well for me I suppose quirky, creative, aspiring, active, learner. And my writing...evolving...write what you know. Q4: Do you find Greek architecture, statuary and art particularly inspiring? I absolutely do! My mum used to read me stories like the Iliad and the Odyssey as bedtime stories when I was younger. I grew up loving Greek and Roman history. I remember being terribly bored in history at secondary school as it all focused modern history. Q5: I’d love for you to tell me more about what the bombweed means to you. Also heliotrope and poinsettia. Why did you choose those plant names for your character families? Does heliotrope have connections with the helios sphere? Bombweed is a wartime novel by my Great Grandma Margaret Smith which was published by my Great Aunt Gillian Fernandez Morton and Grandmother Maureen Armstrong. The novel was written in 1947 and published in 2018. It seems that writing was passed on to the generations of this family and it is an honour to have a book that I’ll be able to put on a shelf next to hers. Bombweed grew rapidly on bombsites in World War Two. Poinsettia and Heliotrope are witch family surnames. Poinsettia was a surname assigned to Ben as I created his signature look. He enters the book with a Poinsettia flower adorning his waistcoat and the family links itself to the bright colours. The flower is a star-shape which seemed appropriate to link to a pagan family. The Poinsettia is a favourite Christmas flower. Heliotrope is the name given to the Priestess of Helios. It means ‘Sun’ and ‘to turn’ due to the direction of the flower's growth. The flower is named after Clytie, an Oceanid scorned by Helios. It seemed in keeping with her power and ultimate fortunes.

Q5: So, what’s next for you and your writing? Have you got any further works in progress? At the moment I’m doing a Masters in Creative Writing with The Open University. This means there is little time for ‘pleasure’ writing. There is the beginnings of a second book: Ben finds out his biological history and the true legacy. But that will have to wait until the Masters allows me the time. I also discovered another little written about ancient artefact in a museum when I last went away which I would love to write about one day. Thanks so much for answering our questions. Look forward to seeing what happens to Ben in the next book!

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