Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Author Bites - Michelle Moran on History

History is something that always fascinates me so it's no surprise that when I picked up Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran, I fell in love with it. With engrossing characters and a plot that sucks you in like a vortex, what's not to love? So, of course, I contacted Michelle hoping that she'd be willing to do a guest post. And she graciously agreed! Not only that, either! See the end of the post for the goodies Michelle is offering up. Thanks so much for stopping by, Michelle!

The Idea Behind Cleopatra’s Daughter

I have always been a traveler. From the time I can remember, my family was on the move, and no location was too strange or exotic for them. As a child, I stayed in every possible kind of accommodation: tents, hotels, caves, villas, even teepees and huts. So it’s no surprise, really, that as an adult I would end up doing a great deal of traveling. Out of college, I began traveling for fun, but when I discovered that writing historical fiction wasa great passion of mine, I began to travel for research. Since then, most of my destinations have been countries with rich archaeological sites. These places have been constant sources of inspiration, and on a trip to Alexandria in Egypt, I was afforded the amazing opportunity of participating in a dive to see the submerged remains of Cleopatra’s ancient city. Thousands of artifacts remain completely preserved underwater: sphinxes, amphorae, even the stones of the Marc Antony’s summer palace. Although I’m not a fan of diving, it was an incredible experience, and it changed the way I looked at Cleopatra. I immediately wanted to know more about her life, and it was mere coincidence that my next trip took me to Italy, where her ten year-old twins were brought to live after her suicide.

While in Rome, I was able to retrace the steps of Cleopatra’s children. From the Pantheon, which was being built while Cleopatra’s daughter, Selene, was there, to the Mamertine prison, it is still possible to see many of the places where Selene herself would have walked. Most impressive, however, was my visit to the Emperor Octavian’s villa on the Palatine Hill. At one time, its vibrantly painted dining room had hosted magnificent feasts, one of which would have been the celebration of the Emperor’s triumph over Marc Antony and Cleopatra in Egypt. As the heir to Caesar, Octavian was determined to rule the western world without interference. He changed his name to Augustus, and with the help of his general Agrippa and his architect Vitruvius, he turned a city of clay into a city of marble. After three million dollars in restoration, Italian archaeologists have made enormous progress in restoring this two-thousand year-old villa. They have been able to recreate not just the intimate library and studies which Octavian once used, but the mosaic floors he once walked on with Ovid, Seneca, Cicero, Horace, and even Julius Caesar himself.

As we were quickly escorted through the frescoed rooms, we stopped in the triclinium – the dining room which had once seen so many famous faces smiling, laughing, even crying for mercy. With a little imagination, it was easy to see the tables and couches that had once adorned the chamber, and there was the undeniable feeling of standing in the presence of the ancients. It was the kind of feeling you only get in Grecian temples or Egyptian tombs, and it was here that I decided I needed to tell the story of Cleopatra's forgotten children. What they witnessed while they were in Rome, how they survived, and - eventually - what became of them.

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And thanks to Michelle's awesomeness, she's offered up two signed copies of Cleopatra's Daughter for a giveaway! Just fill out the form below to enter. Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per person per email address. Duplicate entries will be deleted. Contest ends October 12th at midnight, EST.


2 comments:

Jessi E. (The Elliott Review) said...

I haven't read Cleopatra's Daughter yet, but I loved (in a fangirl squeeing kind of way) Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen. So amazing. She truly has a gift of writing and bringing out complex emotions and a sacred sense of history.

Ashley (Ashley's Bookshelf) said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

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