helios sphere

helios sphere
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Eleanor Duvivier is an author from Bristol, and 'Helios Sphere' is her unique and amazing debut work.

I challenge you to find another book which comines Greek mythology, marathon running and magic in any way at all, never mind in such a compelling manner.

Enter the weird world of Ben Poinsettia, who is 'Just Ben'.

Wordpress - Eleanor's Endeavour

Twitter @EllaDuV

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Image: Courtesy of the author.

  • The author talks about 'Helios Sphere'
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  • Eleanor Duvivier
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  • The author reads the Prologue
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  • Eleanor Duvivier
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Photos of the book and Eleanor are used with thanks to Polly and to Buckland Monochorum on Dartmoor. Other images include Open University course material, and an image of Eleanor's computer while she was editing this book in Lindos. We also see images from the marathon, inside the Marathon Expo at the Tae Kwon Do Stadium (features in 'Helios Sphere' and a photo of the New Acropolis Museum (also features).

Eleanor Duvivier and 'Helios Sphere'

Eleanor Duvivier on the start line at the 2018 Athens Marathon! Really interesting video in which Eleanor talks about the current culture of Greece and their struggles with wild fires etc.

The author at her book launch, held at The Gryphon, Bristol.

Helios Sphere:

The Witches

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"They’re powerful in their own right. Not to be trifled with. And they are starting to re-write the balance of the old ways. Will the Gods cope with their meddling?"

The Witches and Gods are the prominent supernatural forces in Helios Sphere

 

There are two known witch families in the narrative. 

Heliotrope: 

 

The Heliotrope family are the last standing from the diluted bloodline that runs from the original Priests and Priestesses of Helios.  These Priests and Priestesses formed the Cult of Helios.  This cult main objective is to track remnants of Helios mythology throughout the world for use at the Temple.  

 

They are skilled thieves and brilliant at the social politics required to gain traction in situations which would be advantageous in the world of antiques acquisition.  They have good standing in the world and a business name Apollo Helios Acquisition with London based headquarters.   Sarah Jayne is CEO of this organisation and the Head or High Priestess.  Her daughter is Amber - a thief working within the Cult.   

 

They are known to the Poinsettias, and know of the Poinsettias.  It is not known how their powers manifest but they’re believed to share the same strengths and weaknesses as any watered down Sun magic.  

 

Poinsettia:  

 

The Poinsettias are another witch family.  They have an odd-looking house in a crescent in Bristol.  Their powers are an amplified version of their own actual human talents.  They are descendants of Medea.   

 

Fran, the previous head of the family, is a deceased famous author on all things pagan.  She is also Ben’s mum.  Fran leaves Ben an inheritance so large no one even knows what it the amount is.  This legacy is sought after by all remaining Poinsettia’s desperate to get a piece of it and her history.  It is looked after by the family lawyer known only as Oz.  It is not known where Fran has passed on to in the after-life.  

 

To provide any more information on the Witches of Helios Sphere would be difficult as it would involve spoilers.  Just know that they are descendants of Gods and Goddesses.  They’re powerful in their own right. Not to be trifled with.  And they are starting to re-write the balance of the old ways.  Will the Gods cope with their meddling? 

 

Find out in Helios Sphere.  

Ben writes - after the book's events

After the book

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"We had such an adventure together, didn’t we? Even if it was short."

Dina’s address: 

Payles Mpakegianni 

Athens 

Greece  

Dear Dina,  

It feels so strange going back to our traditional format of letters after having met you in person.   

We had such an adventure together, didn’t we?  Even if it was short.   

How are you getting on? 

Things are settling down here.  Nick’s moved in.  We’re going to get started on Mum’s attic soon.  Clear out the old to make way for the new.  It’ll be a difficult process.  

I’ve started to go back to work.  It’s real boring in the office.  It’s not the same as the adventures, the running and the Greek outdoors.  

Yours, 

Ben Poinsettia  

(Aged 26 and 4 months)  

The first letter from Dina to Ben

The friendship begins

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"Writing to a person my age might help me, she said. Why is she here without you?"

Ben’s address: 

7 Greenhill Crescent 

Bristol 

Avon 

United Kingdom 

 

Dear Ben, 

A woman called Fran came into my parent’s restaurant this afternoon for lunch.  She wore all black.  I thought she was cool.  I liked her because she looked like powerful women in movies I watch to learn English.  She said to my father that she had a son that is about the same age called Ben.  I was just colouring in at the bar.  My father told her I am trying to learn English at school. Writing to person my age might help me, she said.  Why is she here without you? 

I wrote down your address.  My name is Dina Rivers.  My parents own a restaurant here in Greece.  I’m not into cooking though. 

I’m into listening to Pink and I like biology at school.  I like cats.  Cats are everywhere here. 

What do you like?  

Love from Dina 

(Aged 14 and one month)  

Greek Mythology and the Marathon

Adventures

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“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings.

The Greek Pantheon is the belief system behind Helios Sphere.  I studied mythology during my BA in Classical History and Creative Writing with The Open University.  However, I have always had an obsession with Greek mythology.  It started when my mother used to read me The Illiad and The Odyssey at bedtime when I was small.  Arguably the best bed time stories for an imaginative child!  I then went to Bristol Steiner School for a bit where they further focused on old mythology and ancient history.  As I grew up I loved things like Jason and the Argonauts, Xena: The Warrior Princess and Hercules.   It is as if I have always been aligned with it. 

When I first started running I was inspired by a runner called Kilian Jornet.  He ran ultra-marathons (anything above marathon distance of 26.2 miles) mostly fuelled on Nutella and a joy for life.  The run that inspired me was his race up Mount Olympus.  He went the wrong way up the mountain – and still won!  The race is called Mount Olympus Marathon.  It was 2013.  I was overweight, a smoker and worked lates renewing breakdown cover for RAC.  It was just as I’d started my degree and my motivation was suddenly on fire.  I couldn’t even run for a bus but I wanted that adventure.  I needed the thrill. 

 

I started out by deciding to run the Athens Marathon in 2014.  That was the A race.  I ran the Portsmouth Marathon in 2013 after 10 months training.  I went from being a smoker that couldn’t run for a bus to being a marathon runner who’d quit smoking.  The reason Athens Marathon became the A race was simple.  After running Scafell Pike Marathon I quickly realised that I wasn’t cut out for mountain running (it turned out I have agoraphobia which manifests as a fear of large open spaces, I found this out at the top of the mountain!) and re-evaluated my goal.  I decided that running the original marathon was the new benchmark.  

 

The Authentic Athens Marathon is so important to Greek culture because it is part of their history.  Marathon running started in Greece.  The twenty six ish miles from Marathon to Athens is roughly the journey all runners follow every November.  It is the model distance that all marathons everywhere now base themselves on.  The original journey wasn’t quite the distance we know today so the race does a lap of the Panathenaic Stadium to make up the small difference. Pheidippides was the deliverer of great news who ran from Marathon to Athens, after the Persians were defeated gloriously at Marathon, and died on the spot from exhaustion.   

 

As a mythology student with a childhood background draped in the cloak of Greek myth I couldn’t not run it.  I will always feel a little sadness that I will never get to run the Olympus Marathon.  I have run the Alexander The Great Marathon which has views of Mount Olympus across the waters and that is as close as I’ll probably ever get.  The Seat of Zeus currently eludes me, hidden above the clouds.   

 

Without that spark of adventure I would never have run out my front door one bitter 6am morning.  I wouldn’t have gone to Greece for the sort of adventure that I had.  I may never have stumbled across the inspiration for Helios Sphere.  I have been inspired in so many ways by Greece and Greek culture and I am grateful that every time I have been has been a truly pleasant experience.  I am very much a Bristolian born and bred, yet I feel like Greece is a home away from home.  I’ve since been back to Athens twice more.  I’ve visited Lindos and explored Thessaloniki … there will always be more adventures to be had. 

A Potted Version of the Story Behind 'Helios Sphere'

And the other mythical figures we meet in the book

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" An ancient item with not many solid facts behind it, is a great spark of inspiration for a piece of fiction."

I stumbled across The Sphere of Helios exactly like Ben did.  It was a few days before the Athens marathon.  The clouds were heavy with thunder which meant that the outdoor attractions were less attractive.  My friends Liam and Matt were due a day later and I didn’t want to do the major attractions (The Temple of Zeus and The Acropolis) without them.  Naturally I gravitated towards the nearest museum on the map, a stone’s throw from my favourite home away from home in Athens – the Athens Gate Hotel.   

Not a lot is known about The Sphere of Helios.  It is thought to be an item of cult magic due to the astrological and magical symbols that cover the surface.   It is believed that the Greeks may have buried it for luck in sporting endeavours as it was discovered buried near the theatre of Dionysus.  This made The Sphere of Helios perfect as a relic of inspiration for a novel.  An ancient item with not many solid facts behind it, is a great spark of inspiration for a piece of fiction.  I started by imagining how I would think if I had been lost to my own time and found myself rediscovered in another.   I gave the object a voice.  

I studied Mythology during my BA in Classical History and Creative Writing at The Open University. I adored reading Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  The story that struck me the most was that of Helios and Phaeton.  Phaeton, son of Helios, aspired to ride his father’s chariot and fails.  The result is so much destruction that Phaeton meets his demise and Zeus heartlessly orders Helios to suck up his grief and carry on with his job of bringing light to man.  The idea of blending the old myth with the new cult-like object seemed like a natural pairing.   

Helios was the God of the Sun.  He is omnipresent and appears little in the mythologies.  Mostly he is mentioned by other Gods and characters in the mythologies.  When he does appear his stories are strong and leave an impact.  As if to match up with this he was not widely worshipped or if he was it was mostly practiced underground.  There is evidence that there were small island cults that followed him.  A Temple of Helios still stands in Syria.   

Zeus was the boss of the Gods.  He was considered so mighty that even seeing him would cause destruction to mere mortals.  He would have to appear as another being such as an animal or in disguise.   

Poseidon was one of the brothers of Zeus.  He ruled over the Oceanus.  Zeus ruled over the sky and thunder, and well … everyone.  Hades drew the short straw in the lot that decided which brother ruled over what, and ended up ruling over the Underworld. 

Eros, the God of love, was sometimes seen as a messenger God.  He appears occasionally as the bearer of tidings.  Referred to as a being of swift wings and soft foot. 

In Helios Sphere the Gods work in the background as they would have in myth, very rarely intervening.  There are a few exceptions.  Gods meddling in affairs that are better left alone was a plot device of mythology.  Ben must find his way in this strange blend of myths and marathons, magic and legends.  Poor Ben has his work cut out for him.   

Interview with Scott Martin Productions

Read more about the author of 'Helios Sphere'

"I guess darkness serves a purpose: to show us that there is redemption through chaos. I believe in that. I think that's the basis of Greek mythology" - Brendan Fraser (from BrainyQuotes)

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… Perhaps you 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…

 

Quirky, creative, aspiring, active, learner.

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 and I started to write properly during the Christmas period of 2014.  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 flowers 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.

Thank you for reading.

 

Thanks so much for answering our questions. Look forward to seeing what happens to Ben in the next book!

The Book Launch

Check out the Facebook Page for More Details

"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry" - Emily Dickinson (from BrainyQuotes)

The book launch for 'Helios Sphere' is to be held in the function room of The Gryphon in Bristol on the 24th of June 2019, from 7pm. Superb work, Eleanor.

 

The launch page is on Facebook here.

Helios Sphere - for runners!

(c) scott martin productions and
(c) everything elsie

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