Alexander’s half-sister, THESSALONIKE is one of the more ‘tragic’ women figures of ancient Macedon. She was born about 345 BC, the daughter of king Philip II by his Thessalian wife or concubine, Nikesipolis, from Pherae, a Thessalian of noble origins. Her birth fell on the same day that the armies of Macedon and the Thessalian league won a significant battle over the Phocians. Philip is said to have proclaimed “Let her be called victory in Thessaly”. Thus, her name is made up of two words Thessaly and nike” translated to mean “Thessalian Victory.”rpk-tramplin
Her mother died shortly after her birth so she was left in the care of OLYMPIAS, mother of Alexander. At the time she was born, Alexander was under the tutelage of Aristotle and she was only six or seven when he left on his Persian expedition. When Alexander died, Thessalonike would have been just twenty-one years old.
She had spent her childhood in the queen’s quarters and endured a lonely life with the formidable queen. Philip had been assassinated before he could chose a husband for her so she seemed destined to be a spinster.
Eventually she fell under the seduction of KASSANDROS who sought to entice her into marriage so that he would gain more power. He promised to name a city after her if she agreed to the marriage. This is the source for the elegant city of Thessaloniki, which in modern times was known as “the Paris of the North.” And this is Thessaloniki’s only claim to fame.
During her undoubtedly tumultuous marriage to Kassandros, THESSALONIKE gave birth to three sons, Philip, Antipater and Alexander. After their father’s death, she had a great deal of influence over them. One of the sons, Antipater, became jealous of Thessalonike’s favour shown to the youngest brother and as a result he murdered her. Thus ended a tragic life and to this day she is remembered only by the city named after her.
It’s been a while since I posted, mainly due to an unexpected move that was rather stressful and took up much of my time. But now I’m resettled and happy to announce that the last leg of the journey of SHADOW OF THE LION has begun. The final proofs of Volume two are underway and SHADOW OF THE LION: THE FIELDS OF HADES is due to be published by October this year.inFOLIO Research Group
There have been a lot of delays to the point where I was getting worried, but I am assured that this second book about the fall of Alexander the Great’s dynasty will definitely be out soon. This will happen while I am in Athens so I am hoping that there will be opportunities for more book readings and perhaps a mini launch while I’m there.
Volume Two THE FIELDS OF HADES picks up the trail of the two joint kings, young Alexander IV (ISKANDER) and his mentally deficient uncle ARRIDAIOS just as they are en route to Pella, the Royal City. What happens after that is an exciting typical Greek-style tragedy when not only the generals begin to try to seize power, but the women, the dangerous Queen OLYMPIAS and the rash and ambition young ADEIA-EURYDIKE set off a deadly Civil War. With our antagonist KASSANDROS predominantly on the scene, the tension builds to a dramatic climax. I’m sure that readers will be kept on the edges of their seats and pages will be turning as you read this exciting installment of SHADOW.
Stay tuned for further updates as the Publication Date draws nearer!
In August 2014 the first volume of SHADOW OF THE LION subtitled BLOOD ON THE MOON was born, published by MediaAria-CDM. Next month, in January 2015 SHADOW makes its formal debut at my book launch sponsored by the Greek Consul at the Hellenic Community Centre in Vancouver.
This has been an exciting year which included a trip to Egypt and a visit to Alexandria which was a dream come true. Then in September a trip to England and Greece where I was able to do lots of book promo, first attending the Historical Novel Writer’s conference in London, and then invited to do three readings in Greece: two in Athens and one in Larissa.
Since returning to Canada in October I have been invited to do two book readings along with my writer friend Eileen Kernaghan. And I look forward to doing many more in the coming year, starting with a book club group in Duncan B.C. It was a thrill to be given a ’empowered writer’ award by the World Poetry Peace Conference and invited to be on their radio program by Ariadne Sawyer who has been so supportive of me.
After the fifteen long years of research and writing on this epic saga it has been a real thrill to see everything I worked for accomplished. And I begin the New Year, 2015, with the formal book launch of SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON. (Already my readers are anxious for the second volume to appear but THE FIELDS OF HADES won’t be published until 2016.)
I am grateful for all the support I have had over the years from my writing group, the Scribblers, my friend here in Canada and in Europe. Especially the Greek people who have been so generous with offering me support with my research and book promo. The Greek Consul of Vancouver, Ilias Kremmydas has been so kind and has organized the launch at the Hellenic Community Centre. I’m planning to welcome some special guests to participate including Greek/Canadian prize winning poet Manolis Aligizakis, and Langara lecturer Peter Prontzos who has offered to write a book review for me.
Everyone is invited to this special event so mark it on your calendars. And if you have already read SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON I’d appreciate it if you could put a little review on Amazon.com or on Chapters website if that’s where you purchased your copy. I’ll be signing books at the book launch and there will be a few on hand to purchase.
So, I welcome the New Year and all that it promises for me and for my novel. I hope we have a bright future together!
The city of Ephesus, an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia, was built in the 10th century BC by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek period it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city was most famous for the Temple of Artemis, completed around 550 BC.
Temple of Artemis
Antipater of Sidon, who compiled a list of the Seven Wonders of the World, described the Temple: “I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus: but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, ”Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand.” (from Wikipedia)
In July, 356 BC the Temple of Artemis was set ablaze by an arsonist and burned to the ground. Co-incidentally, this occurred on exactly the same night that Alexander the Great was born and was considered by the Macedonian royalty to be an omen. Plutarch remarked in his histories that Artemis was too preoccupied with Alexander’s birth to save her burning temple.
At that time, the whole of Ionia was under Persian rule. When Philip II was assassinated in 336 BC his son, Alexander, took over the throne. Two years later he followed his father’s plan to march on Asia Minor and take back the Greek lands from the Persians. He appointed his father’s experienced general, Antipater, as regent in his absence and in the spring of 334 BC he crossed the Hellespont with an army of 13,000 infantry and 5,100 cavalry.
He defeated the Persian forces at the Battle of Granicus in 334 BC and routed the Persians into a retreat. The Persians suffered the loss of about 1,000 cavalry and 3,000 infantry. The Greek mercenaries who fought for Persia under the command of Memnon of Rhodes , were abandoned and attempted to broker a peace with Alexander but were slaughtered or enslaved. Memnon escaped but later died on an island in the Aegean. Alexander liberated the Greek cities of Asia Minor, executing the pro-Persian tyrant and his family and rode triumphantly into Ephesus.
The Granicus River
Ephesus was one of the wealthiest cities in the Mediterranean world, an important trading center and a center of learning, a city where women enjoyed rights and privileges equal to men. Alexander remembered that the Temple of Artemis had burned on the night of his birth and offered to pay for it to be restored. The Ephesians tactfully declined. The temple wasn’t rebuilt, at their own expense, until after Alexander’s death in 323 BC.
Ruins of the Temple of Artemis
After Alexander’s death one of his generals, Lysimachus, took over as satrap of the city and began new development of the city, changing its name to Arsineia after his wife Arsinoe. He constructed a new harbour, built defensive walls and moved the city farther south but the Ephesians refused to leave their homes until Lysimachus had the city’s sewage system blocked during a storm rending their houses uninhabitable. It was refounded in 281 BC under the old name of Ephesus and once again became known as one of the most important commercial seaports in the Mediterranean.
In Book One of SHADOW OF THE LION, GENERAL PERDIKKAS and the army, escorting the joint-kings back to Macedon, arrive in Ephesus. Here we meet BARSINE, a Persian woman who had known Alexander from childhood when her father was an ambassador to Macedonia. After Alexander defeated Shah Darius and captured his harem, Barsine was among the royal women because she was the widow of Memnon of Rhodes. Later she became Alexander’s mistress. Accompanying Barsine in Ephesus is her young son, HERAKLES, the illegitimate son of Alexander. Although they are minor characters in the novel, they are important and appear in both Book 1 “Blood on the Moon”, and Book 2 “The Fields of Hades”.
I first got interested in Alexander the Great when I was still a teen-ager, and spent several years reading whatever I could about him. My first Alexander themed novel was written in my last year of high school. Through the years I collected books on Greek history, specifically about Alexander, and read everything Mary Renault wrote. I read her trilogy about Alexander (“Fire From Heaven”, “The Persian Boy” and “Funeral Games”) multiple times.
It wasn’t until 1979 that I finally went to Greece for the first time. On that trip I started out in Thessaloniki and went directly to the museum where the grave finds of archaeologist Manolis Andronicus were on display including the skeleton allegedly Philip’s as well as amazing grave treasures. Then I visited Pella, the royal city.
In 1983 I went to live in Greece and continued my ‘search for Alexander” which included trips to sites on the Aegean Coast of Asia Minor in Turkey including Troy and Ephesus. Everywhere I went I made notes in my journal or in the notebook I always carry with me.
I wanted to write a novel about Alexander, but how could I outdo Renault? However, her last book, “Funeral Games” written before she died, seemed to lack something so I decided to delve further into the history of what happened after Alexander’s death. In particular, what happened to his son and only legal heir, Alexander IV? The historians have written little about this boy and I was determined to find out more.
I first started writing “Shadow of the Lion” as a juvenile historical about Alexander IV, who I named “Iskander”, his Persian name. But in a short time, I realized it was too political a story for a young adult book, and was advised to start over, this time writing in a multiple point of view. Not only was I delving into the lives of Alexander’s generals and Companions, but also the lives of the women such as Olympias, Alexander’s mother, who most historians dismiss with unflattering commentaries. But the more research I did, I realized that these women were strong and formidable and played an important part in history. This expanded the details of the story and amped up the amount of research I’d need to do. I had no computer at the time and relied on the library for my information, making copious notes
In 1993 I was offered a free flight back to Greece by the Greek consulate in Vancouver to continue my research. This included a chance to interview the secretary of the Society of Macedonian Studies in Thessaloniki. I also was able to do research at the Gennadius Library and British School Libraries thanks to Classical scholar friends in Athens. I haunted museums and made notes of everything I saw that pertained to my novel. The British Museum in London had artifacts from ancient Babylon and Persia, places I could not visit, and there were still many sites to explore in Greece.
I returned to Greek Macedonia and went to the tombs at Vergina where the artifacts found by Andronicus had been replaced in situ. This was a huge thrill especially seeing the tomb next to that alleged to be Philip II’s which is the tomb of a young prince. The archaeologist on site told me it was likely that of Alexander’s son. The grave finds are on display and include a pair of greaves which I imagined might have once been Alexander’s. I also went to Mieza, the school where Aristotle taught Alexander and his Companions, visited Dodona in Epirus, home of Alexander’s mother. On two occasions I’ve even gone to ‘Hade’s’, the necromanteion where the ancients used to communicate with the dead. And one magical visit was to Samothraki, the island where the joint-kings dedicated a small temple to their fathers, Philip 1 and Alexander.
I still kept hand-written notes but eventually I got a computer and this made my searches much easier. I have a biography file for each of my characters and read all I could find about them. For special characters, such as Alexanders’ half-brother, Arridaios, who was brain damaged and suffered seizures, I did a lot of research about epilepsy. For the villain of the story, Kassandros, from what I read about him I realized he could have likely been a psychopath so I did research on that subject. Everything had to be recorded: the cultural life, the food they ate, clothes they wore. I had books about the Macedonian army and my expanding library contained Diodorus, Plutarch, Robin Lane Fox and many others. My notebooks were full of on-the-spot records of sensory details whenever I visited a location that I wanted to describe in the novel. I pin-pointed actual living people who reminded me of my characters and made careful notes about them: gestures, physical appearance etc. This helped me ‘tag’ the characters realistically so they became ‘alive’ on the page. When I needed to research boar hunting I was lucky to find several You-tube videos of boar hunts, some with children the same age Iskander would have been in the novel. I also researched things like a child’s ability to ride a horse and climb a mountain. A co-worker’s son had climbed to the base camp of Everest when he was 12 so he came to my house so I could interview him about his experience. I found a site on line (www.pothos.org ) where the contributors are all lovers of Alexander and that history, so often I’d ask a question there and get a quick response.
By the time I finished my 15 year journey (Yes! It took fifteen years to write Shadow!) I had boxes full of files, news clips, photos of sites, journals, maps and information plus shelves full of research books that I had added to my home library. When I went through the boxes recently I was amazed at the content of information and especially the hand-written journals I had kept with valuable at-the-site detailed information.
Research is a crucial part of historical fiction writing. Little details must be as correct as you can get them. Of course it is ‘fiction’, so your interpretation of the characters is your own, but based as closely as you can on what you have read about them by the historians. I was lucky to have access to all the sites in Greece with an archaeological pass given to me with help from the Finnish Institute of Athens. I also made friends with several Classical scholars who helped me with information.
I still return to Greece nearly every year and I’m currently researching the Greek/Celtic connections so this has included trips to the Salisbury Plain in England. Last summer at the hotel where I stayed on Zakynthos, the hotel manager was a history professor. When I told him about my current work-in-project he willingly offered me lots of fascinating information about the connections of the Greeks and Celts. So don’t be afraid to ask questions!
A tip for those of you who are doing research: I found that if I made a list of exactly what I wanted to find out at that particular time I didn’t get side-tracked with all the other amazing and interesting things there were to read about or see. When I go to museums, for instance, I go to see particular displays pertaining to my research. And when I research on-line I do the same thing: look for only what you need to know right then. This rule helps you keep from getting side-tracked. Otherwise you’ll spend more time on researching than you do on the actual writing!