First, a bit about Gail:
Gail Strickland loves music, art, writing and languages. She has spent her life performing as a pianist in cabarets in San Francisco, symphonic orchestras and a little known eclectic country rock band called The Prairie Dogs. During her years as a piano teacher helping children discover music, Gail also pursued her passion for languages and foreign lands. She lived for months in Greece and Ireland and studied in Stuttgart, Germany. Gail's also translated much of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. But beyond her love for all the arts, Gail has always sought the magic that lingers between the words, within the silent void we cannot paint or play or write.
Why did you pick to write books for YA?
I wrote Night of Pan, a YA historical fantasy because, as a Greek scholar in college and a music teacher who has worked for many years with young people, I was eager to share the ancient myths and wisdom with young people. Also, I tired of many modern historians—even the History Channel—telling us that the young Oracle of Delphi did not know what she was doing. Night of Pan reclaims history for the young Oracle in 5th Century BCE Greece who spoke and the entire world listened. I believe she helped save the cradle of democracy and change the course of history. I hope young people will understand after they read Night of Pan that one person can change the world … even one young person.
What types of books do you like to read?
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
I’m a musician and a piano teacher besides being a writer, so music is a big part of my life. Living at 7600 feet on top of a mountain high above Lake Tahoe, I also love to hike, ski, snowshoe or just sit on my back porch and watch for the gray fox that likes to visit.
Tell us about Night of Pan and how the story came to be.
Night of Pan is my first book and the first of my Oracle of Delphi Trilogy. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk up a mountain and come face to face with a god … a satyr-god who is half goat and half man? I did. I also decided that the History Channel is wrong when they claim that the Oracle of Delphi was only a drug-crazed teenager being controlled by priests who had their fingers on the political pulse of 5th Century BC Greece, so I decided to reclaim history for all of us.
I translated four mysterious prophecies that the young Oracle declared about the million Persians who invaded Greece 480 BC. The same period of history that the movie 300 depicts. My book describes real events, but sometimes history can be confusing—lots of dates and battles and generals. I wanted to tell the story of a simple village girl who was very brave. She is a fictional character based on the real Oracle of Delphi. Her name is Thaleia.
Though the largest invasion the ancient world had seen is in my book, my story isn’t about the kind of courage where someone picks up a sword and chops off heads. My book is about the courage it takes to know who you truly are.
Here's a peek at Night of Pan:
Fifteen-year-old Thaleia is haunted by visions: roofs dripping blood, Athens burning. She tries to convince her best friend and all the villagers that she’s not crazy. The gods do speak to her. And the gods have plans for this girl.
When Xerxes army of a million Persians marches straight to the mountain village Delphi to claim the Temple of Apollo’s treasures and sacred power, Thaleia’s gift may be her people’s last line of defense, but is one girl strong enough to stop an entire army?
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
My previously published works are travel writing stories in Travelers’ Tales anthologies, Venturing in Southern Greece and Venturing in Ireland: Quests for the Modern Celtic Soul, and two poetry books: Clutter and Poems from my Father’s Living Room.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
I am currently working on The Oracle’s Inferno, second book of the Oracle of Delphi Trilogy. The entire book is set in Erebos, the Greek Underworld. Great place to wander around! Giants, Medusa with snakes in her hair, rivers flowing with fire and The Lord-of-Many-Names: Hades. I’m having a great time writing it! My only problem is that readers who recently finished my first book of the trilogy have told me that I need to write faster and finish this second book so they can read it!
Anything else you want readers to know?
There’s a secret I want to share with you that I learned from the ancient Greeks. In fact, I first learned it from Homer, the blind poet. I found it in the first three words of his epic poem, The Iliad, the story of the Greeks at Troy fighting for the return of beautiful Helen, fighting even the gods: Menin aeida thea … sing to us goddess of the wrath.
Now, Homer didn’t say, “Just send me a text message. Or even … just email me about that anger of Achilles. He asked the goddess to sing about the wrath of Achilles. And that was not a mistake. Homer asked the goddess to sing the entire song of Achilles, all 15,000 lines because ancient Greece was a song culture, a world in which they knew in their hearts the universal language and power of song. The ancient Greek song culture that survived for over two thousand years knew that power caught in the subtle resonance between musical notes and words, between the artist and the audience. That song is heart and yearning … it is everything. It will lead us to the stars. It will guide us to ourselves. It is the song of the universe.
So, don’t text me or email me. Walk along a dark sand beach beside the sea, and let’s sing and dance together … and don’t ever let anyone kill your song.
Where can readers find you and your books?
I want to encourage readers to go to their independent bookstores and order it. However, Night of Pan is also available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as e-book, paperback and hardcover.
Readers can find information for book clubs, book readings and reviews on my website.
I also belong to the Worlds of Myth, an international Facebook group started in Greece to return a love of myth and ancient wisdom to the world. Check it out!