Friday, December 07, 2012


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Me, at work on "Shadow of the Lion"
I was  recently invited to participate in a meme questionnaire about my novel "Shadow of the Lion" which is currently in the hands of an agent.  My on-line poet friend Marc Latham nominated me to join the other writers who took part in this interesting survey called The Next Best Thing. Marc writes "folding mirror poems" and you can see his interview here:

These are the questions that were asked about my novel.
What is the title of your new book?
“Shadow of the Lion”

Where did the idea for the book come from?
I have been intrigued by Alexander the Great since I was 16 and in my final year of high school wrote an Alexander themed novel. I wanted to write one just about him but Mary Renault’s trilogy covered his life. However, I was disappointed when I read her “Funeral Games” and felt there was much more to the story – mainly the story about his son, Alexander IV, the only legal heir of Alexander the Great.  I started writing a novel about the boy aimed at the young adult market but realized it was too complicated and political a story, so after a year or more of writing I began again in a multiple point of view with the theme “How blind ambition and greed brought down a world power.” That is the history I cover in “Shadow of the Lion”. The boy, who I call by his Persian name “Iskander”, is still one of the major characters in the book. But I gave a strong voice to the women — his mother, Roxana, Alexander's mother Olympias and Alexander's niece Adeia-Eurydike  as well as the generals who played a role in bringing down Alexander’s dynasty. There are only a couple of fictional characters in the novel and they are also strong characters (Nabarzanes, a Persian court advisor, an old Chaldean Magus and a young Macedonian boy, Orion, who becomes Iskander’s best friend.)

What genre does your book fall under?
Historical fiction

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
While workshopping it one of the movie buffs in my writer’s group kept suggestion actors to play the roles.  One would definitely be Anthony Hopkins but I’m not sure of the others. In the beginning there was a precocious little boy in the daycare where I worked who I modeled Iskander after. While I was writing it, I ran across a number of people in Greece who fit the description of the characters. I saw a waiter at a taverna on Thassos who strongly resembled Alexander and a man working in a post office in Asprovalto who was a dead-ringer for Perdikkas. Some of the actors who played in the TV series “Rome” (especially the women) would definitely fit the roles. I actually visualized the story as being played out on a big screen while I was writing it. I think it would make an excellent TV movie series such as "Rome".

Will your book be self published or published by an agency?
It is currently in the hands of a New York agent and I intend to pursue traditional publishing first as I feel the novel is worthy of a world-wide audience.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I worked by chapter segments, writing early drafts, workshopping, rewriting  all the way through the novel, which is long and dense. It literally took me about 15 years to complete and then of course there was the final reading critiques, editing by me, and finally editing by a professional editor.

What other books would you compare to within the genre?
Anything by Mary Renault, especially her trilogy on Alexander the Great. 
Steven Pressfield’s “Virtues of War”  and “The Afghan Campaign”
I was also influenced by the writing of Scott Oden (“Memnon”)  and Dr. James Dempsey (“Ariadne’s Brother”) Margaret George ("Memoirs of Cleopatra

The Lion of Amphipolis
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Alexander did, of course. And the fact that I was terribly disappointed with Mary Renault’s “Funeral Games” so I wanted to write that same period of history and develop the characters and story more than she did. I lived for a number of years in Greece before and during the time I was researching for this book and had a lot of encouragement from Classical scholar friends and the Greeks themselves including the Greek Ministry of Culture and the Society of Macedonian Studies.

My Work Space
Marc suggested I invite several other writers to participate in this meme but unfortunately most of the writers I know (from the various groups I belong to) do not have blogs or websites.  You can find my website at and it will link you to my published travel articles, poetry publications and other published work.


Marc Latham said...

Interesting and clear answers Ruth. Exciting to think that the novel is doing the rounds in New York.

Good luck with finding a publisher for the book and thanks for taking part and mentioning me.

Wynn Bexton said...

Thanks for inviting me Marc. It was fun to do this. I 'm just sorry all those great writers I know from my Scribblers group and others don't have blogs or websites or I would have gladly included them. (Folks! In this day and age you really NEED at least a blog to promote yourself!)