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Guest Blog & A Giveaway: Eleanor Bluestein on Why Short Stories?

Please welcome Eleanor Bluestein, the author of Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales, which I reviewed yesterday.  Today she’s here to talk about why she chose to write short stories rather than a novel.  Please give Eleanor a warm welcome and don’t forget to check out the giveaway at the bottom of this post!

Meghan suggested I discuss why I chose the short story format rather than the novel for this book. I’ve been asked that before, and I realize now that I’ve given only a partial answer.

I started this book after traveling to Bangkok to attend my nephew’s wedding. On that trip, my husband and I toured Thailand and then flew to Cambodia. I hadn’t considered writing fiction set in South East Asia—I was working on a novel at the time—and didn’t even take notes. Writing a novel requires keeping many threads aligned, but soon after returning home, my father became ill, and as the person responsible for his care, I needed and wanted to spend time with him. My attention became scattered and I kept dropping one or another of the novel’s threads, so I decided to try writing short stories instead. My recent travels had been vivid, and when I started the first story, I found myself setting it in South East Asia. This is the answer I’d given to the question and it is accurate as far as it goes.

It’s clear to me now that something else was also at work. Fiction is an invention, and there is some sleight of hand involved in drawing readers into a world the author devises and into characters’ lives and holding them there. Of the ten stories in Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales, only one is written from the point of view of an American. The rest are narrated by South East Asians. I would not have thought I could create a world a reader would believe in with such an exotic setting or write from a South East Asian point of view for an entire novel. I would have believed that world and those characters too different from the one I knew, culturally and historically, for the work to feel true. But I was willing to risk that I could pull it off for a short story. I don’t mean that this was conscious—it wasn’t. But it seems obvious, looking back, that I could commit to baby steps, not the entire marathon. One at a time, though, the stories piled up, and finally, I’d run the whole course.

Could I have done this book as a novel? Perhaps. I’m not sure, but I don’t think I ever would have tried. The processing of the travel, the imaginative leap into a world and culture so different from my own, probably would never have occurred. Among the many opportunities my father made possible for me, this, it turns out, was another one.

Thank you, Meghan, for the opportunity to share these thoughts with your readers.

***

Thank you for that great post, Eleanor!

And now, the giveaway!  I have one copy of Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales to give away to a resident of the US or Canada.  To enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post telling me either why you’d like to read this book, commenting about Eleanor’s guest post, or recommending me another short story collection, since I liked this one!  That is your first entry.
  2. For another entry, leave a comment on yesterday’s review post after you’ve entered here first.  If you already commented, please mention it in your comment here, that still counts.
  3. For a third or fourth entry, tweet or blog (or both!) about this contest.  Make sure to come back with the link in a separate comment so I can count you again.

The contest will end on Wednesday, May 13th.  I’ll announce the winner on May 14th.  Good luck!

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Laurie Brown on Time Travel

wwjad-coverI loved reading the posts about the Read-A-Thon. What a great idea. I may have to copy you. My TBR pile has migrated from my desk to the floor. Then I had to split it into two stacks (because it kept falling over). It’s out of control. Mostly because I can’t read while I’m writing. Then when I’m on break, I just can’t get caught up. Add that my day job is at a library where I see all the new books, and I may have to buy another bookshelf. Let’s see. Will one fit in the hall?

Well, I’m supposed to be talking about my new book What Would Jane Austen Do? Here’s the blurb: Modern heroine Eleanor Pottinger goes back in time to the Regency where she prevents a duel, helps catch a spy, meets Jane Austen in person, and falls in love with hunky rake Lord Shermont.

Since I’m used to writing in a character’s POV rather than my own, I’m a bit out of my comfort zone.  But I’m willing to give it a shot.

I really like reading time travel books so when I starting writing I gravitated toward that sort of paranormal. The heroine can be modern and therefore easy to relate to. There’s a built in opportunity for humor as she struggles to cope with the differences in society. And I can still have the fab hero and can picture him on a horse or ballroom floor without the convoluted plot machinations that it would take to get a modern man in both such places within one book.

All that wonderfulness comes with a price. There are special considerations that writers of other genres don’t have to tackle.

  1. The device that facilitates the time travel – It should be never be too complicated, and should have the ring of truth, even though we all know it’s impossible. Basically readers are willing to suspend their disbelief and will follow your story just about anywhere unless you cause them to stop. If your device is too complicated, they’ll refuse to invest the interest/time needed to figure it out. The closer you get to simple, the better. (ie The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) Do we buy that the children go through the back of an armoire into an alternate reality? Every time.
  1. The time traveler should not believe what’s happened to him/her too easily – Perversely, if your hero or heroine accepts the obvious right away, we don’t believe it. (After all we know it’s impossible, right?) But if they take too long to believe what’s happened, then they seem… well, not the sharpest quill on the writing desk. (Isn’t it obvious from the surroundings, etc.?)
  1. The ending – Time travel endings are the most difficult to write because we must not only make the reader believe the heroine and heroine belong together, we have to figure out a way for them to actually be together. Are they both going to stay back in time or both come forward? The reader has suspended their disbelief for the length of the book. The wrong ending not only disappoints readers, in the case of time travels, it seem to really piss them off.

I sincerely hope I did all of the above right in What Would Jane Austen Do? I’m sure you’ll let me know if I didn’t.

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You definitely did!  Thank you, Laurie, for a great guest post!  You’re very welcome to join our next Read-a-Thon, we’d very much love to have you, and it’s a great way to start going through that pile!

Laurie Brown teaches writing classes at the college level, has presented seminars at conferences all over the country, and has three published romance novels. She has been a Golden Heart finalist twice and has received the Service Award from the Chicago-North Chapter of RWA. She resides in Illinois.

Buy What Would Jane Austen Do? on Amazon, and don’t forget to come back on Friday for my review!

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Guest Blog: Creating my Heroes by author Amelia Grey

9781402217678

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Being a Regency author, I love to write about titled gentlemen.  There is just something extremely appealing and very sexy to me about a hero born to power and privilege, though he never misuses either. When I started my new trilogy series The Rogues’ Dynasty, I wanted all my heroes to be titled and related.  Hmm. That made it a bit tricky as titles are only handed down to the first born son.  There are no leftovers for subsequent sons.

In the Rogues’ Dynasty Trilogy, I finally decided on a way to get around that issue by making the heroes of the three books cousins rather than just friends.  It was easy enough to do that by creating their grandmother, a lady who was known far and wide because she managed to marry all three of her daughters to titled gentlemen.  And all of her daughters gave her a grandson in the same year.  Suddenly I had a duke, a marquis, and an earl!  I was in heaven.  And of course, I wanted to start the trilogy with the duke!

So A Duke to Die For was born.  I knew right away he’d be tall, commanding, and powerful-looking with wide shoulders and lean hips.  Yum!  Oh, yes, I’d have his neckcloth look as if it had been hastily tied making him appear the devilish rogue the gossipmongers claimed he was.  I’d give him grayish-green eyes so captivating that the heroine could look into them forever and never grow tired.  I’d make his life chaotic and undisciplined, and then give the carefree duke a chunk of responsibility in the form of a lovely young ward to guard.

Well, the list goes on…, but you get the idea. What’s your favorite type of romance hero?

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Thanks, Amelia, for this fabulous guest post!  Award-winning author Amelia Grey has sold over 75,000 copies of her Regency romances.  A Duke to Die For is the first in a new trilogy published by Sourcebooks.  The book will be released on April 1st.  You can preorder your copy on Amazon. In the meantime, come back tomorrow for my review!

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Guest Blog: Why Write Historical Fiction?, Donna Lea Simpson

 

9781402217913Do you recall, like I do, all those kids in school who found history boring and flunked it time and time again? It probably still happens. Maybe that’s the fault of the school system. Memorizing dates, learning the fascinating inner workings of parliament (heavy sarcasm), or, for the Canadian school kid, the Family Compact was all about: those topics are enough to make any kid’s eyes glaze over. 

So, how did some of us come out of school interested in history? Particularly, for me, English history? 

One word: fiction.  

There you have it, another good reason to encourage kids to read novels. Fiction did it for me, particularly Jane Austen, and the fascinating glimpse into the past I got while reading her books. When I read Pride & Prejudice for the first time, along with adoring Jane’s lovely prose, I felt like those people in the novel lived and breathed, and it gave me a sense of her time. No, she did not include specific events, or write about issues, but the aura of the era, so to speak,oozed from the pages. 

So I took some college courses, English fiction courses, yes, but straight history too, and I read more authors: Maria Edgeworth, George Eliot, the Bronte sisters, Sir Walter Scott, and many others. I took a German culture course and read Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. Each new book gave me more of what I crave; that window to the past, a little slice of a life lived in an era that felt, to me, bigger, more romantic, wilder, with more possibilities. It seemed that the very lack of knowledge of the world was a boon to people then, because they had more to explore, more to imagine. 

Then, in my quest for more reading material, I found Regency romances, and in the hands of the most skillful of modern writers, (Mary Balogh, Jo Beverley) I found that world again, the lovely imaginative history. And from there, I decided I could write it. Writing historical fiction entails research, and so I’m googling history and searching the library, working everything I learn into the fine fabric of historical romance-mystery. My own little slice of heaven.  

Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark (April 2009 – Sourcebooks Casablanca) took me down so many fascinating historical roads… I learned about the abolition movement in Georgian England (the Lady Anne series is set in 1786 during the rein of George III), and about the dreadful events on the Zong slave ship. Sometimes historical research is not only fascinating but deeply troubling or moving. Lady Anne and the Ghost’s Revenge (August 2009 – Sourcebooks Casablanca) allowed me to research the fascinating but dangerous world of smuggling in Cornwall, and Lady Anne and the Gypsy Curse (November 2009 – Sourcebooks Casablanca) took me to Kent in England, where I learned about how gypsies were often the object of scorn and mistreatment, but in Georgian times they were actually a vital part of the local economy! I love passing on what I learn, weaving it into the plot and using the facts to support the fiction.  

So, I urge you all, you mothers and fathers (and grandparents and aunts and uncles)… don’t solely focus on math skills and science courses. Encourage your kids to read for pleasure! Introduce them to Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott. Who knows, they may turn out to be writers of historical fiction, and we all know the world needs more historical fiction! 

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Blog Tour Guest Review: Galway Bay, Mary Pat Kelly

As you regular readers may have realized, I’m a little overwhelmed by life and school right now, so my mom, Carolyn, volunteered to help me fulfill my commitments by reading and reviewing Galway Bay for the blog tour today.  I was happy because she loved it and she’s told me that she now wants to read more historical fiction epics!  This from a woman who has previously informed me that if it wasn’t set in the modern day, she wasn’t interested.  I think we have found out where my love of history comes from, and I think that says a lot about the quality of Galway Bay!

My mom has written guest posts for me before, but this is her first blog tour, so I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome.  I can only hope that I love this book as much as she did!

Galway Bay is the story of Honora Kelly and her family. It starts in Ireland and ends in the United States.  You travel with them from 1839 to 1893.  It takes you through the hardships and joys in their lives.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I liked this book. I don’t think I can find words that can sufficiently express how wonderful this book is.   The way this book is written you feel as if you are right there with this family.  You can’t put it down.  You think about it when you aren’t even reading. I will never forget this book and the people in it.  Their story will stay with me forever, their struggles and their triumphs.  The main theme of this book is love of family and love of country.  You feel it in every page of this book.  I love how much they love each other and how they would do anything for one another.

As I read this book, I wanted to share it with someone. I really wanted to talk about it.  I would strongly recommend this book.  I also recommend this book  for a book club selection. Anyone who reads this book will get a different perspective on life.

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Don’t miss an opportunity to participate in a Blog Talk Radio chat today with Mary Pat Kelly!  You can listen in here.  Sign up to call in and ask questions in the chat!

Buy Galway Bay on Amazon or check out the publisher’s website.  Thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group USA for our copy!

Visit some other tour hosts:
http://2kidsandtiredbooks.blogspot.com
http://athomewithbooks.blogspot.com/
http://book-thirty.blogspot.com/
http://readersrespite.blogspot.com
http://www.myfriendamysblog.com
http://bermudaonion.wordpress.com
http://www.acircleofbooks.blogspot.com
http://www.corinnesbookreviews.blogspot.com
http://lorisbookden.blogspot.com/ http://www.bookthoughtsbylisa.blogspot.com
http://teddyrose.blogspot.com
http://libraryqueue.blogspot.com
http://allisonsatticblog.blogspot.com
http://cherylsbooknook.blogspot.com/
http://luanne-abookwormsworld.blogspot.com/
http://bookingmama.blogspot.com/
http://enroutetolife.blogspot.com/
http://thetometraveller.blogspot.com/
http://www.marjoleinbookblog.blogspot.com
http://peekingbetweenthepages.blogspot.com/
http://cafeofdreams.blogspot.com/
http://jennsbookshelf.blogspot.com/
http://thebookczar.blogspot.com
http://www.writeforareader.edublogs.org
http://linussblanket.com
http://booksbytjbaff.blogspot.com/
http://www.caribousmom.com
http://hiddenplace.wordpress.com/
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Author Guest Post: Helen Hollick

Kingmaking_CVR.inddHelen Hollick is the author of The Kingmaking which will be released on March 1st by Sourcebooks Landmark.  Today, her blog tour stops here at Medieval Bookworm.  I’ll have my review of this book up a bit later, but you should know that I really enjoyed it!  For this guest post, however, I asked:

How do you see yourself following in the Arthurian tradition with this trilogy?  What are you adding?  What are you making better?

So, please welcome Helen!

I do not, in fact, follow the Arthurian tradition – not the Medieval tales of Knights in Armour, that is.

I had never liked the traditional Arthurian stories. I could not accept that the King Arthur of those Medieval tales was such a poor King. He fought long and hard to become King, managed to obtain a beautiful wife – and then promptly disappeared in search of the Holy Grail, abandoning his Kingdom and his wife. Surely he would have foreseen the Lancelot/Guinevere affair. I’m afraid I also had no time for Lancelot or those other too-good-to-be-true knights – none of it seemed real history.

I wanted to write what might have really happened.

The familiar stories of the Round Table, Holy Grail and Knights in Armour are all Medieval tales told in the 12th Century. If there was a real Arthur he would have lived circa 450 -550 A.D., – the Dark Ages, at the time of the departure of the Romans, when there was a power vacuum for supremacy and Britain was being settled by the Anglo Saxons – who thus created ‘England’.

I wanted to write my version without the myth, magic or fantasy. There are no knights in armour in my story, no Lancelot or Galahad. There is no magic, no Merlin, no magical sword or ethereal Lady of the Lake.

Instead, there is the passion of a man who fought hard to gain his Kingdom – and who had to fight even harder to keep it. A man who found the woman he loved, but who had a hard job keeping her as well, for passionate people live passionate, highly emotional lives, where ‘true love’ never runs smoothly.

I researched the early Welsh legends of Arthur – and I discovered a very different version of events that turned out to be far more emotionally exciting and entertaining than the tales we are familiar with – for the very reason that possibly, what was told in those early tales, really did happen!

When I first started investigating those early legends they thrilled me. The Arthur of these early tales was so different to the Knight in Armour one. He was far more “earthy” – a rogue, a rebel. Nor was he the chivalric Christian King of the later stories. This Arthur was a war lord who put his Kingdom and his men first (and yes, himself) as it would have been in the Dark Ages when the Christian Church was still newly emerging and Paganism was very much to the fore.

This Arthur also had several sons – but  I’ll not tell you any more detail for it might spoil the books!

For an excerpt go to www.helenhollick.net and click on the book covers.

Enjoy!

Helen

Thank you so much for stopping by, Helen, and for answering my impertinent question!

You can also check out and preorder The Kingmaking on Amazon.  Please come back later for my review as we continue the blog tour for this new and exciting book!

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Book Spotlight: Cry of Justice, Jason Pratt

Check out this book on tour this month at Pump Up Your Book Promotion virtual tours.

From the back cover:

“Hope and Love – Pride and Honor.

Monsters wander the world of Mikon.

Caught in the aftermath of a vicious international war, thousands of refugees have fled the Coastal States, bringing their dangers with them into the wilderness near the untamed Middlelands.

Castaways from an imploding civilization – fighting to find and to understand the most dangerous of treasures …”

About the author:

“Jason Pratt is a native of West Tennessee, and the systems manager for Dyer Fiberglass, Inc. He holds a bachelor of communications degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

When he isn’t freelance editing other people’s books or writing philosophical treatises as a respected guest on various Internet sites, he can be found pondering tactics and strategies in the lates war game or studying metaphysics and world history. Occasionally he finds the time to instruct, judge and compete in the art of fencing; and has been known to write cinematic epic fantasies when people aren’t looking.
Cry of Justice is the first book of an initial trilogy, the third book of which he is currently composing.”

And finally, some reviews:

pumpupbanner111

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Guest Post: Sue Lange’s Virtual Book Tour of The Textile Planet

First off, let me thank Meghan for hosting the second stop on my virtual book tour of The Textile Planet. The Textile Planet is a serialized novel published at BookViewCafe.com with one new episode going up every other Sunday. So far three episodes are available (http://tinyurl.com/5lbtqv).

BookViewCafe (BVC) itself is an interesting website in that it’s a cooperative run by twenty print published authors. We all have previously published novels, novellas, and short stories in the traditional book industry. BVC represents a way for each of us to try out Internet publishing models. The group includes such writers as Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda N. Mcintyre, and Sarah Zettel. Needless to say, I feel quite honored to be a member.

Most of the work offered through BVC consists of out-of-print books, as-yet-unpublished stories, or work that is experimental in nature and unavailable elsewhere. That’s one of the draws of the site: you can’t get this stuff anywhere else. Another draw is that so far all of the stories are free. There are plans to provide some of the work for sale in ebook format and/or actual hardcopy printing, but there will always be free fiction available. We update the website daily with new content right on the first page. It’s been a very busy and exciting launch due to the great response we’ve received from the online community.

My own offering, The Textile Planet, is speculative fiction with 32 episodes in all. Like most of my writing it’s social satire. This somewhat surrealistic story follows the hapless Marla Gershe as she muddles through a day at the textile factory where she works. On the particular day in question, things go terribly wrong for her and she has to make a drastic change in her life. And it’s not for the better. It’s a darkly humorous tale that will resonate with anyone who has ever had a bad day, a bad boss, or made a bad career move.

I’m hoping readers will try out the interactive content that goes with the episodes: links to back story, sound files, Youtube video, that sort of thing. Skipping the links won’t hinder an understanding of the plot, but the added content is fun. There’s a form for feedback too. Love that feedback, good or bad. I did a trial run with about 50 beta readers and received a great response from that effort. I’m confident about it now that it’s out there in the wild world ready for service, but you never know. With a piece like mine that is experimental in nature, it’s hard to know how it will come off. Who’s going to be stopping by and what are they expecting? Will it seem surprising, or silly? Will they get it? Who knows?

I invite the Medieval Bookworm readers to stop by and see what they think. No charge. And send that feedback!

BookViewCafe.com: http://www.bookviewcafe.com

The Textile Planet: http://tinyurl.com/5lbtqv

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Thanks, Sue, for stopping by!  I’ve had a look myself at Sue’s novel and the website and I find both very worthy of your time.  This is an exciting venture in our changing book world, so please check it out!

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Guest Blogger: Author Cyndia Depre on Combining Genres

obliviousTo be honest, genres are very confusing to me. My books have been classified as romantic thriller and romantic suspense. I suppose suspense would work for Amanda’s Rib, but I wouldn’t classify it or Oblivious as a thriller. To me ‘thriller’ is a fast-paced book filled with tension. Oblivious is fast-paced, but has humor more than tension. There’s a mystery, but the book is more about how Olivia Chatham solves the crime than the heinous deed itself. I’d classify both novels as romantic mystery. I write about people facing a problem, and how they solve it. Above all my books are about the characters.

I think it is important to have more specific genres than just romance or mystery or historical etc. There are a wide variety of genres under each broad umbrella. For example, some mystery purists get quite upset if there’s any romance at all in a book. They want to know it has a love element so they can pass on it. I want to know if a mystery is sci-fi or fantasy because I generally avoid those. They are perfectly fine books, and very popular. I think I lack the imagination for some of the wild events in them. Like shape shifting or ‘beam me up’ stuff. My mind just can’t wrap around those concepts. I wish it could.

The term ‘thriller’ is usually a turn-off for me. I’m very much a character-driven reader and writer. It could just be me, but I think thrillers often overlook character development. So much time is spent running here and there, the protagonists seem to be almost forgotten. Nothing more than a few names on the pages. Tension comes from some kind of deadline rather than a hero or heroine’s dilemma. While reading thrillers, I frequently find myself wondering when the protagonists are going to get to shower and change clothes. I realize I’m using a broad brush here, but these are just my opinions. A recent best selling thriller bored me to pieces. I almost wished one of the protagonists would die because it would have broken up all the hopping around from place to place. But it sold millions of copies, so what do I know? For the record, I don’t like chase scenes in movies, either. Watch me run left! Watch me turn right! Watch me climb this fence and avoid the dog on the other side! Not this gal. Watch me nod off. My husband loves them.

In the end all genres are wonderful, even though I avoid some. If they entertain people, they’re good. I just wish there were specific definitions for each type so we’d know what we’re getting into. I’d like my books on mystery shelves and romance shelves. Mostly I’d like them in windows and displays as you enter the store. Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

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Thanks, Cyndia! Cyndia Depre’s latest book, Oblivious, which is classified as a romantic mystery, is available from Amazon. Check it out!

This blog tour is run by Pump Up Your Book Promotion.

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Guest blogger: Michelle Moran on history’s surprises

michelle moranFirst of all, thank you very much for having me here! When you first asked me to write a guest post, I knew immediately what I wanted to talk about. History’s surprises. I don’t mean the small surprises an author uncovers during the lengthy process of researching for an historical novel, such as the fact that the Romans liked to eat a fish sauce called garum which was made from fermented fish. Ugh. No, I mean the large surprises which alter the way we think about an ancient civilization and humanity.

The Heretic Queen is the story of Nefertari and her transformation from an orphaned and unwanted princess to one of the most powerful queens of ancient Egypt. She married Ramesses II and possibly lived through the most famous exodus in history. I assumed that when I began my research I would discover that Ramesses was tall, dark and handsome (not unlike the drool-worthy Yule Brenner in The Ten Commandments). And I imagined that he would have been victorious in every battle, given his long reign of more than thirty years and his triumphant-sounding title, Ramesses the Great. But neither of these assumptions turned out to be true.

My first surprise came when I first visited the Hall of Mummies in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Contrary to every single media portrayal of Ramesses and every movie ever made, it turns out the Pharaoh was not tall, dark and handsome as I had expected, but tall, light and red-headed (which was just as fine, by me)! When his mummy was recovered in 1881, Egyptologists were able to determine that he had once stood five feet seven inches tall, had flaming red hair, and a distinctive nose that his sons would inherit. There were those who contended that his mummy had red hair because of burial dyes or henna, but French scientists laid these theories to rest after a microscopic analysis of the roots conclusively proved he was a red-head like Set, the Egyptian god of chaos. As I peered through the heavy glass which separated myself from the a man commonly referred to as the greatest Pharaoh of ancient Egypt, my pre-conceived notions of Ramesses II fell away. I knew that the oldest mummy ever discovered in Egypt had had red hair, but to see red hair on a mummy in person was something else entirely.

My second surprise came as I was attempting to piece together what kind of man Ramesses II had been. I assumed, given the heretic queenhis lengthy reign, that he must have been a great warrior who was level-headed in battle and revered as a soldier. Pharaohs who were inept at waging war didn’t tend to have very lengthy reigns. There were always people on the horizon – Hyksos, Hittites, Mitanni – who wanted Egypt for themselves, not to mention internal enemies who would have loved to usurp the throne. But while researching Ramesses’s foreign policy, a very different man began to emerge. One who was young, rash, and sometimes foolish. His most famous battle—the Battle of Kadesh—ended not in victory, but in a humiliating truce after he charged into combat strategically unprepared and very nearly lost the entire kingdom of Egypt. In images from his temple in Abu Simbel, he can be seen racing into this war on his chariot, his horse’s reins tied around his waist as he smites the Hittites in what he depicted as a glorious triumph. Nefertari is believed to have accompanied him into this famous battle, along with one of his other wives. First, I had to ask myself, what sort of man brings his wives to war? Clearly, one who was completely confident of his own success. Secondly, I had to wonder what this battle said about Ramesses’s character.

Rather than being a methodical planner, Ramesses was clearly the type of Pharaoh who was swayed – at least on the battlefield – by his passions. However, his signing of a truce with the Hittites seemed significant to me for two reasons. One, it showed that he could be humble and accept a stalemate (whereas other Pharaohs might have tried to attack the Hittites the next season until a definitive conqueror was declared). And two, it showed that he could think outside the box. Ramesses’s Treaty of Kadesh is the earliest copy of a treaty that has ever been found. When archaeologists discovered the tablet it was written in both Egyptian and Akkadian. It details the terms of peace, extradition policies and mutual-aid clauses between Ramesses’s kingdom of Egypt and the powerful kingdom of Hatti. Today, the original treaty, written in cuneiform and discovered in Hattusas, is displayed in the United Nations building in New York to serve as a reminder of the rewards of diplomacy. For me, it also serves as a reminder that Ramesses was not just a young, rash warrior, but a shrewd politician.

There were other surprises as well; about the personal history of my narrator Nefertari, the Exodus, and even the Babylonian legends which bear a striking resemblance to Moses’s story in the Bible. Researching history always comes with revelations, and it’s one of the greatest rewards of being an historical fiction author. There’s nothing I like better than being surprised and having my preconceptions crumble, because if I’m surprised, it’s likely that the reader will be surprised as well.

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Thanks for that great post, Michelle!  History loves to throw surprises at us no matter what period we’re studying. 

Michelle Moran is the best-selling author of  Nefertiti and  The Heretic Queen.  She is currently hard at work on her third novel,  Cleopatra’s Daughter.  Come back tomorrow for my review of  The Heretic Queen and my giveaway of a signed copy! In the meantime, check it out on Amazon.

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