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Eilish Quin | A Complex, Resilient, Ruthless, and Vulnerable Female Protagonist

Eilish Quin




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A Novel

February 2024
On Sale: February 13, 2024
304 pages
ISBN: 1668020769
EAN: 9781668020760
Kindle: B0C7RMJWW3
Hardcover / e-Book / audiobook
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Also by Eilish Quin:
Medea, February 2024


1--What is the title of your latest release?


2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?

Of the women who command the pages of Greek Mythology, the sorceress Medea is one of the most maligned and reviled.  Her story, notorious and startling and violent, is one that has historically been framed and biased by the patriarchal antiquity of the society from which it emerged. This retelling allows Medea the space she, as a protagonist, deserves– to be complex and resilient, ruthless, and vulnerable.

The daughter of a sea nymph, and the granddaughter of a Titan, Medea is a paradox: she is at once rendered compelling by virtue of the divinity that flows through her bloodline and made powerless by the fact of her being born a woman. As a child, she intuitively submerges herself in the arts of witchcraft and sorcery, but soon finds it may not be a match for the prophecies that hang over her entire family like a shroud. When the strapping hero, Jason appears on the scene, desperate to get his hands on the golden fleece, Medea is forced to reckon with the complexity of her being and decide between love, duty, family, and magic, all while pushing at the boundaries of fate.

3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?

Medea transpires across a plethora of locations, from the harsh crags of Kolchis, to the roaring waves of the Aegean, to the rocky fields of Corinth, to the lush, intellectual epicenter of Athens. From the outset, I knew that I wanted this particular retelling of Medea to be set in alignment with the mytho-historical past from which it was derived. Although this decision superficially limited some of my agency as an author, in that the confines of the story were already set out for me by the sources of antiquity, I like to imagine that even with those constraints, I was able to project a little in the way of my own feeling onto the landscape.

There is, I suppose, always the exhilarating possibility to take an old story and remove it entirely from its original context. There are an infinite number of variations that might have taken place, and that is the wonder of writing. However, something about that ancient stronghold of Kolchis, the roughness of the surf and gloom over the valley of Phasis, drew me in with a queer, all-consuming gravity. I found myself subsumed into it, almost as momentarily entrenched there as my protagonist found herself to be.

4--Would you hang out with your heroine in real life?

In a heartbeat, and I like to think I have, in a way. Medea, as I know her, is intensely admirable–resilient and vulnerable and wild and nurturing and ruthless. I have felt her by my side for the entirety of this literary project and would have been quite lost without her supernatural manner of suggestion.

5--What are three words that describe your hero?

This feels like an impossible question. The Medea who scandalized antiquity commands a thousand associations and identities within the strange terrain of her semi-divine body - at once a symbol of nefarious womanhood and perpetual outsider, mediating the dichotomy between her native wildness and the carefully constrained realm of the domestic. She is savior and siren contained in a single, bewitching person. Sorcerer, sister, foreigner, princess, mother, femme-fatale, murderess, and daughter are all descriptors which spring to mind, and so I shall settle on the sufficiently cryptic, “Her own self.”

6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?

Although I like to imagine myself rather familiar with the mythology of Ancient Greece, each time I return to those gleaming, burnished stories, I am reminded of just how complex and clever they are– everything and everyone within them is somehow connected, with an almost ineffable precision.

This book also required me to delve headfirst into the magic of planetary herbalism, a subject which I knew relatively little about. In order to craft Medea’s experiences with Pharmakon, or the double-edged blade of plant magic, I had to attempt a kind of alchemical fusion in which I could honor the ancient practices and rituals of long-ago magical practice (as well as the context out of they emerged) while conveying them in such a way that felt true to my own intuition and philosophy.

Since this was my debut, and the first novel-length manuscript I’ve ever completed, I also learned quite a bit about myself as a writer. With Medea’s guidance, I learned to trust myself as a writer; to have faith in the idea that I could craft something that other people might find meaning in. There is a kind of reckless futility in being a writer, in the sense that nothing one ever conveys on paper will ever match the ideal which exists in one’s mind. Even so, that imperfection of translation– that inherent reduction– creates a kind of poetry, and so it is noble to attempt the relaying anyhow.

7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?

Sometimes, if I feel it’s necessary, I’ll sketch a very quick outline, consisting of the plot's basic trajectory, and any specific areas of research essential to the story, alongside a few character profiles to refer back to as I compose.

With that out of the way, I just write. I prefer to finish the manuscript in the span of about a month, because I can find the writing process rather stressful, albeit intensely energizing. I have difficulty untangling myself from the characters I’m working with, or doing anything other than obsessing over my work when I’m properly invested in a project, so I like to get through that first push with some swiftness. The alternative is that I become bogged down with doubts or ardent perfectionism. After the manuscript exists in what feels to me like a complete and moderately coherent form, I am able to begin the less frantic process of editing.

8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?

A fancy little overpriced coffee drink from somewhere intimidatingly cool, made by a barista who hates me.

9--Describe your writing space/office!

Although I adore the aesthetics of writing in public spaces, like museums or coffee shops, surrounded by vibrant people and art and dynamic scenes, I tend to get self-conscious or distracted and end up being fairly ineffective. Now, I do most of my writing from home, from the comfort of my bed, or couch, or kitchen table. An ideal writing space usually includes (1) a scalding black tea, (2) a feline companion couched somewhere close by, and (3) my laptop.

10--Who is an author you admire?

In my mind, it’s difficult to just pick a single author I admire since it's more of a tier system. There are the writers whose prose washed over me like poetry: Isabelle Allende, Oscar Wilde, Carlos Ruis Zafon, Virginia Woolfe, Tarjei Vesaas, Christopher MArlowe. There are those whose works were actually poetry: Sylvia Plath, Hafiz, W. B. Yeats. There are those who revealed to me how haunting and vivid character relationships could be fashioned through language: Agatha Christie, and Emily Bronte.  There are those who showed me how artful storytelling both exalts in and transcends genre: Octavia Butler, Evgeny Schwartz, Shirley Jackson, Akwaeke Emezi. Those who made contemporary literature feel classic and ineffable: Anna Dorn, Jen Beagin, Ann Patchett. In many ways, I make a terrible critic of literature, because I find something to like in nearly everything I read.

11--Is there a book that changed your life?

I feel like every book I have ever read has in some way changed my life. But since I’ve just finished my debut novel, which was a retelling of an infamous and long-ago Greek myth, I’ll describe the retelling that is closest to my heart: Circe, by Madeline Miller. I came upon Circe during a time, directly after I graduated from undergrad, when I felt especially burned out. I found it difficult to submerge myself in art, let alone to create it. Circe washed over me like a soothing balm– her prose was original, poignant, and utterly transfixing. This was the novel which showed me what retellings could be– how vivid and crushing and true all at once.

12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)

I sleep in terribly late– it’s a bad habit from my adolescence that I never grew out of. And so, one morning (or afternoon, as it happens), my agent, Jessica, called me to tell me the news that “Medea” had been acquired by Atria, and I felt so initially groggy and disoriented that I could hardly process her words. When it eventually sank in, and I comprehended that my little type-written manuscript was going to be a real, hard-cover novel, I found myself in a sort of surreal daze for the rest of the week. I think there was a sense, when I knew my book would be published, that I had finally done this immense thing I had always dreamed of doing– that I could now be considered a proper writer– whatever that might mean or entail. And now, I imagine that’s a bit silly– after all, one doesn’t need to be published to be a writer, or a novelist or a poet– but it was a wonderful help to my beleaguered self-esteem anyhow.

13--What’s your favorite genre to read? 

I’ll devour anything that falls under the umbrellas of mystery, gothic, fantasy, speculative sci-fi, or historical fiction. I also adore sapphic romance novels.

14--What’s your favorite movie?

I’ve particularly enjoyed Moulin Rouge (2001), Melancholia (2011), Heathers (1988), Austenland (2013), and Respire (2014).

15--What is your favorite season?

I like how the air smells in Southern California in the first few weeks of summer, and when the leaves form hard, scraping shells on the sidewalk and the air turns chill in autumn, and how snow falls faintly over everything in winter in the Sierra Nevadas, and when the wildflowers erupt from the damp earth in spring. I don’t think I could pick just one.

16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

I’ve always had trouble with special occasions, perhaps because I have difficulty conceptualizing time, or perhaps because in the back of my mind there’s this vague insistence on perfection, or perhaps because I tend to analyze everything around me into obscurity instead of being properly present. I think that’s why I prefer cozy, understated activities with family to more extravagant displays. One of the best birthdays I’ve ever had was spent tucked away in the cushioned corner of my favorite coffee shop, sipping hot chocolate and reading with my mom.

17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?

Some recent fiction releases I’ve been luxuriating in include Big Swiss by Jen Beagin, Exalted by Anna Dorn, and Killingly by Katharine Beutner. I’ve also been reading a handful of more dated gothic novels for research purposes, which are certainly not recent in the sense of their publication but are new to me personally. My favorites of these have been The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, and The Monk by Matthew Lewis.

I listen to two ongoing podcasts religiously: Noble Blood (narrated by author Dana Schwartz), and This Paranormal Life (narrated by comedians Rory Powers and Kit Grier). The former focuses on the more macabre or tragical stories which have historically befallen members of the aristocratic class, and the latter is a jovial, jaunty discussion of cryptids and the supernatural.

As far as television goes, I find myself constantly returning to old staples like Poirot, Midsummer Murders, and the slightly more contemporary, Shetland. So many of these aren’t technically “recent” but if you also go feral for bizarre European crime dramas, I’m your man. Additionally, Mike Flanagan’s oeuvre, particularly The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, strike me as inherently brilliant reimaginings of macabre classic texts. I have not been to the theater since the start of the pandemic and am therefore likely a few years behind the times. I am, however, very eagerly awaiting the release of the latest Miyazaki film, “The Boy and the Heron.”

18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?

I tend to gravitate towards Middle Eastern, Greek, and Italian cuisine.  I also find myself devouring a lot of the frozen pastas from Trader Joes.

19--What do you do when you have free time?

I’m fairly introverted, and mostly enjoy quiet activities, such as reading or painting.  I’m also given to melancholy, ruminating walks in the rain, along a path which winds through thick and sweeping foliage.

When I’m feeling social though, I love exploring new brunch spots and playing board games with family and friends.

20--What can readers expect from you next?

My next novel is a Los Angeles Gothic steeped ancient Irish folklore– a queerly supernatural, detective procedural inspired by the trenchant characterization of Agatha Christie’s Crooked House, the obsessive female relationships of Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, and the heady Celtic mysticism inherent to the poetry of W. B. Yeats.

MEDEA by Eilish Quin


A Novel


Discover the full story of the sorceress Medea, one of the most reviled and maligned women of Greek antiquity, in this propulsive and evocative debut in the tradition of Circe, Elektra, and Stone Blind.

Among the women of Greek mythology, the witch Medea may be the most despised. Known for the brutal act of killing her own children to exact vengeance on her deceitful husband, the Argonauts leader Jason, Medea has carved out a singularly infamous niche in our histories.

But what if that isn’t the full story?

The daughter of a sea nymph and the granddaughter of a Titan, Medea is a paradox. She is at once rendered compelling by virtue of the divinity that flows through her bloodline and made powerless by the fact of her being a woman. As a child, she intuitively submerges herself in witchcraft and sorcery, but soon finds it may not be a match for the prophecies that hang over her entire family like a shroud.

As Medea comes into her own as a woman and a witch, she also faces the arrival of the hero Jason, preordained by the gods to be not only her husband, but also her lifeline to escape her isolated existence. Medea travels the treacherous seas with the Argonauts, battles demons she had never conceived of, and falls in love with the man who may ultimately be her downfall.

In this propulsive, beautifully written debut, readers will finally hear Medea’s side of the story through a fresh and feminist lens.


Fiction Ancient Classics | Historical [Atria Books, On Sale: February 13, 2024, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781668020760 / eISBN: 9781668020784]

Buy MEDEAAmazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Libro.fm | Audible | Walmart.com | Target.com | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Eilish Quin

Eilish Quin

Eilish Quin is a queer writer and artist based in the smog and glamour of Los Angeles with her various cats. She enjoys conversing with plants, watching British crime dramas, photographing lizards, rereading gothic novels, and staring aimlessly into tempestuous bodies of water. Medea is her first novel.





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