Katee Robert chats about ‘Wicked Beauty’ and the future of the Dark Olympus series

In our Katee Robert interview, we discuss Wicked Beauty and what’s on the horizon for the Dark Olympus series.

There are few authors I have anticipated talking to more than Katee Robert, and I was so happy when the opportunity arose because I did not hesitate to take it. With Wicked Beauty just around the corner and Radiant Sin on the horizon, I had plenty of questions to ask.

Katee Robert’s back catalog of books is spectacularly varied, and there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy, no matter your kink or preference. However, the Dark Olympus series seems to have grabbed everyone’s attention—mine included.

If you haven’t already guessed from my Neon Gods book review and my Electric Idol book review, I’ve fallen madly, deeply, and spectacularly in love with the Dark Olympus series. Not only have I enjoyed all the couples I’ve read about so far, I’ve also become even more fascinated with the Dark Olympus world.

My number one question for Katee was how many books we would get in this series, but I had a few less fanatic and self-serving queries as well: Why does Greek mythology still fascinate us? Which side characters could get their own novels? And does the process of writing a polyamorous relationship differ from a pairing involving only two people?

This Katee Robert interview answers all that and a lot more, plus what we can expect from Radiant Sin, the Apollo and Cassandra story. I hope you love Katee’s answers as much as I do, and be on the look out for my Wicked Beauty book review going live tomorrow.

Katee Robert interview:

This series is one of the best I’ve read in a very, very long time. It checks off a lot of my boxes, and each book is so good at introducing a different dynamic and expanding the world a little at a time. What’s it been like to see people’s reactions to this series?

It’s honestly been more than a little wild! I knew that I wanted to tell these stories in a particular way, but I never imagined that they’d resonate on the level they have. I’m so deeply humbled and appreciative for everyone who’s been just as excited about these stories as I’ve been!

Why do you think Greek mythology still interests us so much to this day? And, more specifically, why is Hades in particular so damn appealing!?

I think it comes down to core stories that everyone is really familiar with. Greek mythology is filled with teaching stories, but a good chunk of them are just pure soap opera drama (usually Zeus is to blame). They’re entertaining on a fundamental level. And Hades? Well, who doesn’t love a bad boy with a heart of gold who’s got a dog and a steady job?

How does writing a polyamorous relationship differ from writing a relationship between only two people? Was it ever difficult to make sure Achilles’ bold personality didn’t outshine Patroclus’ more reserved one?

I tend to be a character-first writer, so even if I don’t know everything about the characters when I start writing, I have their framework down. I like to actually draw out the shapes of my polyamorous relationships (triangle, in this case) so I can ensure they’re really well-balanced and that each part of the relationship feels unique and true to the trio I’m working with. It’s an extra step to what I do with two people. With that done ahead of time, I usually don’t have one person overpowering the other or the other two, because they feel really distinct in my head, and that mostly translates to the page.

All of your heroines are so three-dimensional—especially Helen, who in Greek mythology was basically known for being beautiful. How do you go about building them up into more substantial characters? How much is inspired by their myths, and how much is your own creation?

With Helen, her beauty and the way that influences people’s perceptions of her (like in the myth) plays heavily into her internal conflict. Over and over again, she’s seen as just a pretty prize to be handed over to the victor, or a piece to be moved around on a chessboard. All of that is influenced by her role in the original story. But I wanted to write someone who was in a position where she could fight back against that role. Which creates the main conflict for the story, since she throws a wrench in everyone’s plan for her.

Has a minor character ever spoken to you so loudly that they ended up getting their own book? Is there anyone from the Dark Olympus series that could possibly end up being a headliner down the road?

I have this ongoing joke of “no side character left behind.” I actually hadn’t had a book planned for Hermes, but after Neon Gods, I knew she needed her story told…and I knew it would be the cornerstone of the series. There are other characters who’ve kind of stolen the show, though they might end up getting novellas, as I am trying to keep the main series as tight as a 10-book series can be. But Atalanta stole every scene she was in, so I’m noodling a short story for her…

Is it tough for you to write characters like Paris, or does seeing them get their comeuppance make it easier?

I have wanted Paris to suffer ever since watching Troy when I was 17. I have a deep and abiding hate for him that’s lasted since then, so it was very cathartic writing him in a weird way. He’s abusive in an insidious “nice guy” way that I felt really fit with the character, both in Wicked Beauty, and in the original story. I don’t mind writing characters like him, because they give the main characters something to push back against…and they usually get what they deserve!

How did you pick out each of the trials for the tournament? Were any inspired by either Greek mythology or pop culture?

I knew that the last trial had to be combat, and then I kind of reverse engineered from there how to spotlight different skills, and keep the danger level high enough to be a compelling read. The second trial was actually added in edits, and it was directly influenced by two of the characters who come in from out of town. I do love mixing my myths!

Enjoying this Katee Robert interview? Check out my interview with Ballad & Dagger author Daniel José Older

I know I’m skipping ahead here, but as of right now, I only see four projected books for the Dark Olympus series. Are there any plans to keep writing beyond that?

Yep! There are currently seven books in the series contracted, and the story will be complete with 10 books. Which sounds bonkers when I type that out, but I wanted to have a full series arc planned when I got started so I knew where I’d end up. The couples have shifted a little, and Hermes is now the last book, but everything else is the same that I had sketched out before writing Neon Gods.

Can you tease anything about Radiant Sin, Apollo and Cassandra’s story?

I joke that it’s a Katee Robert slow burn. AKA, they get busy like 100 pages in instead of 10. It’s a bit of a softer book, for all that the plot is downright murderous. Apollo is just a legit nice guy, and Cassandra is his cranky employee who’s seen too much…and they have to fake date for spy reasons.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

This is always such a hard question, especially when I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump. But recently I read The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi, and it’s a PHENOMENAL fantasy with really intense stakes, a tournament arc, a revenge story, and has a lovely enemies-to-lovers queer romance subplot. The other that’s one of my favorites this year, too, is A Touch of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland. It’s got some of the best (in my personal experience) anxiety rep I’ve ever read, and a DELICIOUS slow-burn romance between the prince and his bodyguard.

‘Wicked Beauty’ publishes on June 7, 2022

Buy Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert from Sourcebooks, Bookshop.org, Book Depository, or Amazon. You can also add it to your Goodreads list.

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