The romantic dramedy between the gods will be heating up in season three of Lore Olympus. io9 chatted with creator and Eisner winner Rachel Smythe about what’s next for the popular Webtoon weekly appointment release that leads the charts in digital reading content and book lists.
As we head into 2023 after Lore Olympus’ epic season two conclusion back in August, and are still in the early months of season three, Smythe shared what she could—and teased some good stuff up ahead.
Sabina Graves, io9: Let’s talk about building up to a really big moment between Persephone and Hades after she went full Queen of the Underworld against Kronos in the season two finale. It’s time for the honeymoon part of their relationship to begin, in a sense, as season three picks up. What can you share about you plans for that?
Rachel Smythe: At this particular plot line for me, it’s having a heavy emphasis on healing. From Persephone’s perspective, I think sometimes there is this expectation around that revenge plot line. And I absolutely understand why people really like revenge in the sense that it’s very cathartic. But for me personally, with this story, I really want the focus to lie in Persephone rediscovering herself, building those relationships and being able to live her life–the escalation of her intimate relationship with her soon to be husband, obviously.
I feel that often sexual relationships are often framed, especially in the context of romance, as the only point to them is being titillating or erotic. And I’m like, that’s all fine and good. But I think I think sexual relationships can also be just deeply human. It’s something many people experience and just part of the human experience. And it can be very comforting to look at and maybe not necessarily just hot and spicy. I mean, it can be both! But, you know, I think there’s definitely nuance there
io9: I think that’s so important, considering the things that Persephone has been through for her to really identify her agency. There’s her boundaries around, not just her sexual agency, but seeing who she is outside of what happened to her, looking outside of her relationship with her mother and with Hades coming back into her life—it’s very real. I think Persephone really reclaiming her power is something that you’re really capturing in a way that is so relatable.
Smythe: Oh, thank you so much. I mean, writing a long format romance can be quite difficult in the sense that, once the main a couple gets together, it’s like, “what is the story going to be?” It’s hard to know what the stakes are. So I think before the challenge with Hades and Persephone was clearly these characters like each other, what are their barriers to getting together? It was mostly that putting some tension in the series.
io9: But now it’s different and I really do enjoy like the way that the story is doled out. There are some episodes that are cliffhanger-y. It’s always a joy to get that new episode alert. Obviously we know that they’re on the path to get married—are we hearing wedding bells by the end of this year or maybe next year, if you could say?
Smythe: I think… I’m not going to say anything. Nothing. I promise nothing.
io9: Ohhhkay, fine.
Smythe: Because sometimes I’ll have a plan, and then I’ll look at it and be like, “You know what—this can get reshuffled.” I will not over-promise. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that there is marriage in their future, because that is a thing that comes up in their story. But it’s just like a matter of when and how that is the interesting part.
io9: Perfect and valid. I’m excited to pick up on a lot of the other characters we haven’t seen since the time jump.
Smythe: Me too. Like a lot of stuff to get through that.
io9: What can you tease about the other characters’ storylines and where we pick up on them? Obviously there’s Hera and Athena and Apollo and Zeus—this hierarchy of power with them is shifting, and that might impact the main story.
Smythe: My approach with them is the same as before where Lore Olympus is a multigenerational drama, and it’s a multi-timeline drama. And now we kind of get to look at the multi-timeline drama from a different perspective as before. In the beginning we were like, “Yes, we’ve got all these characters that have been alive for forever” and have all of this baggage that we slowly get to look back on and enjoy it. I love a flashback and flash forward.
io9: Yes. Tell me more about flashbacks.
Smythe: Like how can you not like a flashback? So good. That’s some good food. I love it.
io9: It’s like vampires have flashbacks about all the eras they lived in. I’m watching AMC’s Interview With the Vampire right now and living for it. I don’t know if you’re watching it–
Smythe: I have not checked in but I will.
io9: It’s so good, and it kind of reminds me of what you’re doing with Lore Olympus with mythology: they totally take Anne Rice’s world and reimagine it in new ways that I was like, “Oh, my gosh, we are being fed. This is fantastic.” I think you’ll love Claudia, specifically, we get her perspective more pronounced than in the books, and she’s also not like a six year old. She’s 14.
Smythe: Nice! Yes, my approach for the time jumps, really, is to blend them in whenever I feel like it’s appropriate to the flow—adding in the flashbacks for whatever character. So we’ll get a look at what has happened to each character in that 10-year gap and what brings them to now. I spent a lot of the beginning of season three kind of getting Persephone and Hades re-situated. And now I personally am diving into each character with a certain view, like a bit of those flashbacks like we’ve had with Hephaestus and we’ve had a resolution for Minthe. I’ll keep going in that way, and there’ll be something for Daphne on her own. There’s some stuff with Eros and Psyche. We briefly saw Eros and he alluded to some milestones in his life, but it was very brief. And the reason why is because a lot of it is about Psyche and I would prefer for Psyche’s plotline to be shared by her point of view. It makes sense for Eros to be here, to be talking to Persephone in that particular chapter, but I don’t want to convey all the sublimation about Psyche.
io9: Yes, their myth is one of my favorites as well, so I’m definitely excited to see that coming up. So to wrap it up, the holidays are nearing. And I have been obsessed with a lot of the Lore Olympus merch from Hot Topic and Box Lunch. You’ve seen, I’m guessing, probably all of it, but what are some of your favorites?
Smythe: Oh, my goodness. I actually kind of know a lot. I have seen some things where I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this is so cool.” But I literally don’t know when they will reach the world and into people’s hands, because often merchandise—[with] the nature of the world right now in shipping and factories and resources—is very touch and go.
Smythe: Let’s just wait and see. To speak historically, I think my favorite item that was made was a mini backpack, that Hot Topic had. I was like, “Oh, that mini backpack is so cute.” I don’t know if this counts as merchandise, but if you go to Barnes and Noble but they have a plastic gift card with Hades and Persephone on it. So you can you give one of those little gift cards and then load up some book dollars on it or get some book dollars. I’m really into that plastic gift card—I hope I can get one, we don’t have Barnes and Noble in my country [New Zealand]. I’m hoping someone will send me one so I can put it somewhere in my home and reminisce about my little book dollars card. What else? There’s a lot of exciting things that are happening at the moment, which I am just shaking and want to share them and I can’t. There’s good things on the way.
io9: I hope more in-universe stuff with the brands.
Smythe: Oh yes! I’ve seen a lot of those Underworld Con ‘96 hoodies.
io9: I immediately got that for my husband and I was like, “This is for me but you’re wearing it.”
Smythe: Oh—that’s so fantastic!
Lore Olympus drops episodes every Saturday on Webtoon.
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