Scarlett St. Clair steams up Greek myths with her romantasy novels

July 8,2024

Arts And Humanities

The Rise of an Unexpected Literary Star 

Scarlett St. Clair may be known for her sizzling reimaginings of Greek myths, but her path to literary success was anything but mythical. In fact, her journey began in the uncharted waters of self-publishing. "I started self-publishing back in 2014," she explains, recalling her days as a college student writing young adult fiction. Yet, despite the growing popularity of the genre, finding an audience proved a daunting odyssey in those early days. 

The challenges didn't end there. Traditional publishing houses, often seen as the gatekeepers of literary acclaim, held fast to their conventions. "I remember querying all these agents, and publishers would even reach out to me," she shares, "but they would ultimately decide they couldn't help me for one reason or the other." Still, St. Clair persisted, and eventually, she found a haven for her work with Bloom Books. Bloom will release her latest novel, A Touch of Chaos, in hardcover on March 12. 

Her approach to mythology isn't merely about creative license. As a former librarian, St. Clair values research, but she emphasizes that readers don't need to be experts to dive into her work. "A couple of people have said that [my books have] encouraged them to learn more about Greek mythology or mythology in general," she says. "But I think it could just be a launchpad for a greater interest in mythology." True to her librarian roots, she adds with a laugh, "I try to be very informative." 

However, Scarlett St. Clair isn't aiming to give history lessons. Her books are about something deeper – a genuine connection between writer and reader, as well as an opportunity for those readers to connect with each other. "I set out to make genuine connections because I think that's what makes us human," she explains. "That's why I think so many of us love reading any sort of book that has a fandom attached to it."
Scarlett St. Clair
Credit Instagram

The Community Behind the Myth 

The community around St. Clair's work isn't just large – it's a force to be reckoned with. Her books have found viral fame on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, drawing in legions of new readers with each passing day. Perhaps there's a reason for her success: St. Clair, a citizen of the Muscogee Nation, makes a conscious effort to infuse her books with diverse perspectives – making them a place where readers of all backgrounds can find themselves reflected. 

"I want everyone to feel like they can see themselves in some aspect of my books," she emphasizes. "At the end of the day, it comes down to people." 

This focus on people, and on building a supportive community, lies at the heart of everything St. Clair does. It's a philosophy echoed in the world she creates on the page. Although best known for her steamy retellings of Greek myths, her books carry an undercurrent of something far more profound. 

It's a sentiment St. Clair herself articulates with clarity and force: "When you write romance, which is something people downplay all the time as just not important enough to be considered literary, you're still over here saving lives. You're still over here impacting people. And that is greater than any award or bestseller list." 

Of course, those awards and bestseller lists are a testament to her work as well. It seems the world is catching on to what St. Clair's community discovered long ago: these books aren't just a modern take on ancient myths; they're stories of transformation, longing, and love. This blend, combined with the diverse perspectives St. Clair weaves so naturally into her work, likely contributes to her ever-growing readership. 

In fact, her stories might just be the catalyst for a real-world transformation – a change in the way we view romance novels and the readers who love them. "I think there is this stigma out there that if you read romance, you are less intelligent," she says. St. Clair challenges this bias, advocating both for the genre and for the vibrant, intelligent community of its readers. "So, I want to try to change how people perceive things." 

If the trajectory of her success is any indication, she's well on her way. 

The Power of a Modern Myth 

Myths have endured for a reason – they tap into something universal about the human experience. It's here, in the space where old stories meet a modern perspective, that St. Clair's work truly comes to life. Take her popular Hades x Persephone series. The books reimagine the classic Greek tale, placing the underworld god Hades and the goddess of Spring, Persephone, at the heart of a complex, scorching romance. 

The characters feel familiar, rooted in the iconography of the original myth, yet their motivations and internal struggles resonate with wholly modern anxieties. Persephone navigates questions of autonomy and consent, discovering her own power within a world that often wishes to control her. Meanwhile, Hades confronts centuries of loneliness and emotional isolation, challenging the reader's preconceptions of what a fearsome god of the underworld should be. 

This complexity gives the story depth. Furthermore, St. Clair explores themes that run deep in the human experience: love and loss, desire and control, self-discovery and liberation. These aren't simply the problems of gods and goddesses – they're reflections of our own journeys, cleverly disguised in myth's fantastical veneer. 

However, her work offers more than emotional depth; it's also intensely pleasurable. St. Clair writes with a sensuality that elevates these mythical figures to the realm of visceral experience. The world around them shimmers with magic and danger, and the relationship between Hades and Persephone crackles with undeniable heat. While there's plenty of explicit content for those who seek it out, it's the emotional tension St. Clair masterfully builds that truly draws the reader in. 

This combination of intelligent storytelling, complex characters, and delicious escapism has created a readership that spans generations and demographics. In the age of social media, the fandom has become a powerful force – sharing analyses, fan art, and memes that celebrate St. Clair's work and connect readers across the globe. 

Redefining the Romance Genre 

Scarlett St. Clair fits squarely within the genre of "romantasy" – a delicious blend of romance and fantasy. However, her work pushes the boundaries of the genre in exciting ways. Traditionally, romance and fantasy have been seen as separate, even clashing, territories in the literary world. Romance is often unfairly dismissed as frivolous, while fantasy carries the weight of "serious" storytelling. St. Clair, along with a growing cohort of authors, defies these limitations. 

Her stories prove that romance can be intellectually engaging. They grapple with complex themes and pose difficult questions for their characters, and for the reader. Furthermore, the fantasy elements don't just add a fantastical backdrop; they become tools St. Clair skillfully uses to mirror and amplify the emotional stakes. 

For instance, in her King of Battle and Blood series, the romance between Isolde and Adrian is intertwined with themes of war, sacrifice, and political intrigue. Their forbidden love fuels a story of loyalty, vengeance, and the consequences of power, adding thrilling weight to the question of their relationship's survival. 

This blending of genres also contributes to the broader shift in how romance is perceived. St. Clair's books (and those of her contemporaries) are actively dismantling the myth that romance is somehow less worthy of serious consideration. As she says herself: "I think so many people miss the point of romance – which is that someone wants you. That someone chooses you again and again." Isn't that something to celebrate? 

This isn't to say that all romance needs fantasy elements to be worthwhile. Yet, St. Clair's work demonstrates how the two can exist in beautiful, compelling harmony. It's a testament to her skill as a storyteller that the romance never feels overshadowed by the supernatural elements, nor do those elements feel like mere window dressing. 

In an era where readers crave immersive, imaginative experiences, her stories offer both intellectual engagement and the thrill of pure escapism. Perhaps that's a large part of why her popularity continues to soar. 

The Future of Fantasy Romance 

Scarlett St. Clair's success is a sign of the times – a signal that readers are hungry for stories that blend genres, challenge expectations, and prioritize both emotional satisfaction and well-crafted narratives. Of course, she isn't the only author at the forefront of this trend. The rise of self-publishing and platforms like BookTok have democratized the world of literature, allowing diverse voices like hers to find their audience without needing to conform to the rigid standards of traditional publishing. 

As access to different kinds of stories expands, reader preferences shift and expand as well. This appetite for innovation creates an exciting space for authors to experiment, to push boundaries, and to bring us ever more complex and satisfying stories. 

Scarlett St. Clair sees this potential for growth and celebrates the evolving nature of the genre. "I think the romantasy genre is in an incredible place right now," she notes. "The readers want more and they want different." 

This openness to the new fuels a thriving writing community as well. St. Clair encourages aspiring authors to find their own niche, to create the stories they want to see in the world. Her success is a testament to the power of authenticity and a refusal to compromise on one's artistic vision. 

Of course, there will always be those who cling to old definitions, who wish to keep genres neatly separated in their respective boxes. Yet, the tide is shifting. The critical and commercial success of authors like Scarlett St. Clair makes it difficult to dismiss the power and literary value of stories that dare to blend romance, fantasy, and everything in between. 

The future of fantasy romance is bright – a realm of ever-evolving possibilities, where ancient myths collide with modern sensibilities, and passionate communities of readers gather to celebrate love, imagination, and the transformative power of a good story. It's a future that Scarlett St. Clair is helping to shape, one boundary-defying book at a time. 

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