Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Guest Blog by Michelle Moran, Author of Cleopatra'a Daughter - Plus my review

I am so pleased to be hosting Michelle Moran, author of the amazing novel “Cleopatra’s Daughter.” Michelle has graciously written a guest blog, talking about how she was inspired to write about this fascinating subject.

My review of “Cleopatra’s Daughter” follows.

So here is Michelle…

Guest Blog by Michelle Moran, author of “Cleopatra’s Daughter”.

Why Cleopatra’s daughter?

It all began with a dive. Not the kind of dive you take into a swimming pool, but the kind where you squeeze yourself into a wetsuit and wonder just how tasty your rump must appear to passing sharks now that it looks like an elephant seal. My husband and I had taken a trip to Egypt, and at the suggestion of a friend, we decided to go to Alexandria to see the remains of Cleopatra’s underwater city. Let it be known that I had never gone scuba diving before, but after four days with an instructor (and countless questions like, “Will there be sharks? How about jellyfish? If there is an earthquake, what happens underwater?”) we were ready for the real thing.

We drove one morning to the Eastern Harbor in Alexandria. Dozens of other divers were already there, waiting to see what sort of magic lay beneath the waves. I wondered if the real thing could possibly live up to all of the guides and brochures selling this underwater city, lost for thousands of years until now. Then we did the dive, and it was every bit as magical as everyone had promised. We saw the blocks that once formed Marc Antony’s summer palace, came face to face with Cleopatra’s enigmatic sphinx, and floated above ten thousand ancient artifacts, including obelisks, statues, and countless amphorae. By the time we surfaced, I was Cleopatra-obsessed. I wanted to know what had happened to her city once she and Marc Antony had committed suicide. Where did all of its people go? Were they allowed to remain or were they killed by the Romans? And what about her four children?

It was this last question that surprised me the most. I had always assumed that Cleopatra’s children had all been murdered. But the Roman conqueror, Octavian, actually spared the three she bore to Marc Antony: her six-year-old son, Ptolemy, and her ten-year-old twins, Alexander and Selene. As soon as I learned that Octavian had taken the three of them to Rome for his Triumph, I knew at once I had my next book. And when I discovered what Cleopatra’s daughter lived through while in exile – rebellion, loss, triumph, love - I absolutely couldn’t wait to start writing. I can only hope that the novel is as exciting and intriguing as the research proved to be. It may be two thousand years in the past, but a great love story, as they say, is timeless.

Click here to purchase Michelle’s novel -CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER: a novel

Check out Michelle's blog at michellemoran.blogspot.com

About the Author:

Michelle Moran was born in the San Fernando Valley, CA. She took an interest in writing from an early age, purchasing Writer's Market and submitting her stories and novellas to publishers from the time she was twelve. When she was accepted into Pomona College she took as many classes as possible in British Literature, particularly Milton, Chaucer, and the Bard. Not surprisingly, she majored in English while she was there. Following a summer in Israel where she worked as a volunteer archaeologist, she earned an MA from the Claremont Graduate University.
Michelle has traveled around the world, from Zimbabwe to India, and her experiences at archaeological sites were what inspired her to write historical fiction. A public high school teacher for six years, Michelle Moran is currently a full-time writer living in California with her husband.

My Review of “Cleopatra’s Daughter” –

Much has been written about the relationship between Cleopatra, Queen of Eygpt and her Roman husband, Mark Antony. History marks the dramatic suicide deaths of Cleopatra and Antony as the Roman army, lead by Octavian Ceasar, conquers Eygpt and lays claim to the remarkable city of Alexandria. But little is known about the fate of the children the power couple shared, twins Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene and their younger brother Ptolemy.

In her dramatic new novel, “Cleopatra’s Daughter,” author Michelle Moran examines the destiny of the Egyptian royal children through the eyes and voice of Princess Selene.
After their parent’s deaths, Octavian takes Cleopatra’s children back to Rome, to live in captivity under his domain. However, only the twins survive the voyage, as six-year old Ptolemy is taken with a fever and dies, to be buried at sea. Given over to the care of Octavian’s sister Octavia, the frightened children are cast into a lifestyle of luxurious captivity, but captivity all the same.

As the twins become older, they find themselves in the thick of the politics and conspiracies that surround Octavian’s reign. Their guardian Octavia (also their father’s former wife that he abandoned for Cleopatra) is kind to them, but Livia, the emperor’s wife, is mean and always looking for ways to humiliate Selene and Alexander. And being brought up with the emperor’s children and relatives means the twins have to always be on guard, sometimes fearing for their very lives.

By telling the story through the voice of Selene, from a little girl to a young woman, Moran gives the reader a more in-depth and personal view of the history of ancient Rome. Her descriptions of the culture and traditions of that time are rich and vivid, from the elaborate dinners and celebrations, to the excitement of the Circus Maximus, to the terror of the impending threat of slave rebellion led by the mysterious Red Eagle. You almost feel as if you are right there in the midst of the action.

In a unique marketing twist, “Cleopatra’s Daughter” is being offered both as an adult fiction and as a young adult novel. Younger readers will easily follow the events of Selene and her brother’s lives, while adults will not feel the book is too childish. That is a stroke of writing genius, to be able to please both demographics.

Moran’s two previous novels, “Nefertiti” and “The Heretic Queen” (the story of the wife of Rameses The Great), along with this new work, have been centered in ancient Egypt, but her new project finds Moran in France. I, for one, can’t wait to see what she has planned for Madame Tussaud and Marie Antoinette.
Check out this Amazing video trailer!


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great interview and interesting review!

My husband and son go diving together and would *love* to do the Greek trip. It sounds like it was really fascinating and really provided some creative ideas.

Promoting as a YA and adult book is very clever! My son reads the James Patterson YA series, but they have not been marketed to his adult fans (who are used to much rawer material than what's in his YA books). I love the idea of reaching out to both groups.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews said...

It's really a fascinating book! I'd love to see it made into a movie!

bermudaonion said...

I can't wait to read this book!

Petty Witter said...

Hi Sharon, Thanks for that review and interview. I read The Heretic Queen a while ago but didn't enjoy it. This latest novel comes so highly recommended I think I might give it a try though.

Janel said...

I would never do it myself, but the dive sounds like a dream. It must have been magical, especially since it inspired a book!

Sheila Deeth said...

It's such a fascinating era, and the book becomes all the more intriguing for the research that's gone in to it. I would love to read this.

Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews said...

This was fascinating in the sense that who knew what happened to Cleopatra's children after she died...I sure never thought about it.
I think Michelle did a great job on making Selene a character you cared about.