PEI

Middle school with the gods explored in new graphic novel

Greek mythology is having a moment in the world of young adult books, and one of the up and comers in the genre is a woman with a strong connection to P.E.I.

‘It's just such a fun world’

Oh My Gods reimagines Greek gods as middle school students. (Raincoast Books)

Greek mythology is having a moment in the world of young adult books, and one of the up and comers in the genre is a woman with a strong connection to P.E.I.

Stephanie Cooke is the co-author of Oh My Gods!, the first of a graphic novel series. The New York Times Book Review called the dialogue and characterization "spot on and snappy" and the artwork "immensely engaging."

Cooke's parents live in Tyne Valley, P.E.I., and her Island roots go deeper than that. Her great grandmother was a Birch from Birch Hill.

"My family goes way back on the Island and I've spent so, so much time there," she told Mainstreet P.E.I. host Matt Rainnie.

'Prince Edward Island just has a really special place in my heart,' says Stephanie Cooke. (Submitted by Stephanie Cooke)

"I lived there for a little while in my adult years and I spent summers visiting my family and spending time at the house out there. And Prince Edward Island just has a really special place in my heart."

Oh My Gods! was born out of a mutual love of Greek mythology that Cooke and her co-author Insha Fitzpatrick share.

"It's just such a fun world and there's just so many different facets and components in it. And we got to kind of just brainstorming and all of a sudden the kernel of Oh My Gods! came to be and we couldn't let it go," said Cooke.

"This just stuck with us and we really just knew it had to be something that we saw through to fruition. And here it is. Now it exists and more to come."

The story starts with Karen having to move out of her mother's house in New Jersey and in with her father at Mount Olympus, Greece. Karen finds herself going to school with Greek gods who have reduced themselves to children to alleviate the boredom of immortality.

'You have to really think about what's important to that age group.' (Submitted by Stephanie Cooke)

Cooke lives in Toronto where, while writing Oh My Gods!, she spent time riding the TTC listening in on the conversations of school kids in order to capture that "snappy" dialogue in her book.

"You feel so weird doing that," she said, but it was important research.

"You have to really think about what's important to that age group and what kind of things are going to make an impact to them. And also then talking like how they talk without kind of making it sound like you're trying too hard."

The story for the second book in the series, Oh My Gods 2, The Forgotten Maze, is already written, and Cooke said she is starting to see the pages for it. It is scheduled for publication in January.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.

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