We recently published Jo Wither’s gorgeous “Medusa’s Bridesmaids.”
Here, we ask her two questions about her story:
1) I have a weakness for mythology, and I love your take on Medusa here — how much her friends love her, how they are wounded, too, by her pain, how they want to create this perfect day for her. Where did this idea of a wedding for Medusa come from?
I too have always had a fascination with mythology and I have wanted to write a story about Medusa for some time, but I could never find the right angle. Medusa is such a tragic figure, young and beautiful before Poiseidon’s seduction then altered to a hideous monster by the jealous Athena. I felt enraged by her treatment and the fact that Poseidon’s forceful ‘seduction’ goes unpunished but I also wanted to look deeper into Medusa’s background. A young, kind-hearted girl like her would surely have formed fierce friendships before her transformation. This sparked the idea of a strong sisterhood of friends who only see purity and tenderness in her. This unwavering circle give Medusa the strength to carry on, believe in herself and find the love she deserves. The wedding day is a celebration of their childhood love for each other as they watch Medusa move forward into a happier phase of life.
2) I have always thought that moment of transformation must have been so horrible for her, and the powerful way you describe it here is so perfect! So this question is a tough one! Why do you suppose the gods are so cruel?
I think the Gods are cruel because they are not accountable to anyone and have terrible emotional maturity – their knee-jerk reaction to any problem is to devastate and destroy. While humans in society have learnt through thousands of years of cause and effect and hopefully hold great empathy towards each other, the Gods impulsively react from a mindset of untethered rage and fear with no consequences. When Athena becomes aware of her beautiful young love rival, she seeks to punish her in a way which will ensure no man ever wants her again. With this action Athena steals more than her beauty, she takes Medusa’s humanity, changing her into a half-beast. In ‘Medusa’s Bridesmaids’ her continued compassion and connection to her fellow humans is what saves her. As humans, we may not have the Gods’ omnipotence or immortality but we have nurturing love and deep, trusting friendships that the reckless, shallow-hearted Gods can never experience.