I am privileged to host today’s guest, Antoine Vanner, the historical fiction author of nine books in the “Dawlish Chronicles” – Antoine Vanner found himself flattered when nautical novelist Joan Druett described him as the “The Tom Clancy of historic naval fiction”, and I must say, I was quite humbled with this interview.
In conjunction with the author takeover on my group, The Historical Fiction Club, I am welcoming to the blog and podcast, Mark McLaughlin, the author of “The Throne of Darius” and “Princess of Persia”.
If you would like to listen to his author interview on the Hist Fic Chickie podcast, click on the link below:
If you would like to join Mark for his author takeover of the group on April 12, 2021, please click HERE to join the group (answer all the questions) and you will have the opportunity to read his posts, ask him questions, and enter possible giveaways!!
“Someday, you make a game for me, Daddy?” is what little Ryan McLaughlin asked her father, Mark, many years ago. He designed not one but two games for his daughter, and then wrote a novel based on the later of those: Princess Ryan’s Star Marines. Now he has written another novel – a work of historical fiction: Throne of Darius. It is the first in a series about characters (real and imagined) who fought against Alexander the Great.
A free-lance journalist, Mark is the author of two novels and two books on military history and is the designer of 24 published games – most recent of which is Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea by GMT games. Mark also writes for many clients and publications. Although his principal work as a journalist over the last 40 years has been in foreign affairs, he also writes on everything from travel and entertainment to serious position papers.
Ancient Thebes, 335BC. Alexander savagely crushes the Theban revolt against his rule. Swearing revenge for their once glorious city, Dimitrios, a captain of the Theban army, physician Klemes, and soldier Ari, join General Memnon in Asia Minor to fight against Alexander as he sets off to conquer the Persian Empire.
An irreverent portrait of Alexander the Great
Throne of Darius is a story of high adventure, romance and war – especially war, told with heart and a sense of humor. Mark McLaughlin paints a unique and irreverent portrait of Alexander the Great, who certainly was not “great” to everyone. Unlike the majority of historical and literary works, this novel does not glorify the Macedonian king but instead tells the tale of the young conqueror from the point of view of those who fought against him.
What readers say about Throne of Darius
“The description of the Battle of the Granicos River is among the clearest I have ever read. The author knows his history and presents it in a facile style that explains the essentials of the strategy of the campaign and the tactics in skirmishes and battles.” – Christopher Vorder Bruegge
“Military historical fiction is often all about male warriors, complex strategies and vicious battles. There is all of that in this book, but there are also strong female characters in Throne of Darius, like the noble princess Barsine and the brave horsegirl, Halime. Narrating the story from the point of view of Alexander’s opponents is a refreshing take that brings a new understanding of Alexander’s campaign without diminishing historical accuracy. There is humor, fierce battle scenes but also deeply emotional moments – everything to make Throne of Darius an enthralling read that will keep you hooked”. – Krystallia Papadimitriou, editor
“PRINCESS OF PERSIA”
Alexander the Great would have been furious at the disrespect shown to him in this novel. His mother, Olympias, would have surely cursed the author for depicting her son as a blood-thirsty glory-hound with delusions of godhood. On the other hand, Darius, the king whose throne Alexander lusted for, and Memnon, the general who was for a time the young Macedonian’s greatest foe, are likely smiling in their graves, relieved that someone west of the Bosphorus has finally told their side of the story. Princess of Persia is the second book in the series which began with Throne of Darius: A Captain of Thebes. It continues the story of the Greek and Persian men and women – and one woman in particular – to whom Alexander was anything but “great,” and tells the tale of the young world conqueror from the perspective not of those who worshipped him – but of those who fought against him.
Princess of Persia is the second in the series which began with Throne of Darius: A Captain of Thebes. It continues the story of the Greek and Persian men and women – and one woman in particular – to whom Alexander was anything but “great,” and tells the tale of the young world conqueror from the perspective not of those who worshipped him – but of those who fought against him.
Thank you to Mark for being a part of The Hist Fic Chickie blog and podcast today, I truly appreciate it!
Today’s episode is an author interview with Michael Ross, the author of “Across the Great Divide” and “The Search”, books dealing with some of the same issues as today – immigration, sanctuary cities, racial injustice, and social divisions – yet, set in the mid-1800s as his character (and real-life person), Will Crump, deals with a world on the brink of Civil War.
I am welcoming to the show today, Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger, the author of “The Girl from the Mountains” and the Reschen Valley Series of books, such as the award-winning collection “Souvenirs from Kiev”, to discuss her thoughts on her writing life.
Wikipedia defines the expression “to take with a grain of salt” as this: “(With) a grain of salt“, (or “a pinch of salt“) is an idiom of the English language, which means to view something with skepticism or not to interpret something literally.
Sometimes as a writer this is a hard thing to wrap your mind around. Writing is art, the creative process of developing something from your own brain and hands, so when someone outside of your little space treads on your words, well, sometimes the critique, whether warranted or not, does not set well.
To me, salt is a source of seasoning. Such is the origin of the phrase:
The idea comes from the fact that food is more easily swallowed if taken with a small amount of salt. Pliny the Elder translated an ancient text, which some have suggested was an antidote to poison, with the words ‘be taken fasting, plus a grain of salt’.
Pliny’s Naturalis Historia, 77 A.D. translates into modern English thus:
After the defeat of that mighty monarch, Mithridates, Gnaeus Pompeius found in his private cabinet a recipe for an antidote in his own handwriting; it was to the following effect: Take two dried walnuts, two figs, and twenty leaves of rue; pound them all together, with the addition of a grain of salt; if a person takes this mixture fasting, he will be proof against all poisons for that day.
The suggestion is that injurious effects can be moderated by the taking of a grain of salt. Thus, I write this post as advice for any writers (especially new writers) who suffer from self-doubt after receiving a one-star review or a bad blog post about their book or writing. It is a scary thing to present your “baby” to the world and have someone say, “Wow, that is one ugly baby!” But, to be fair, not everyone will like your writing. Not everyone likes my writing, otherwise, I would have far more reviews and far more followers on my blog.
But to take other people’s opinions with a grain of salt, you are, in fact, swallowing the poison along with your own antidote to alleviate the effects of the words. You will not die, and please, do not let criticism keep you from pushing forward to accomplish your art. Only you can speak your words, only you can write what is in your brain.
Don’t get me wrong – there is a difference between constructive criticism and unwarranted criticism. I have found when other writers who are comfortable in their own art, others who sincerely want to see others succeed offer genuine advice to help you improve your writing, how refreshing this is to a young aspiring writer. Actually, to any writer, no matter how old you are and how long you have been writing. I welcome the advice of those who I admire and respect, I mean seriously, art is a continual process of improving and learning, so anyone who thinks they have it down pat I think is fooling themselves. We are always changing and so we need those who will give us a boost.
Unwarranted criticism, well…. do I need to even say anything about this? I did a post earlier in this blog about “Haters Gonna Hate” (which is still on my Goodreads scroll, if you want to check it out) and I think if you scroll back and read that post you will get the gist of what I mean and who I mean.
To sum up, keep writing. Writers have to write, not just that they do write, they HAVE to write. Pick up your sword, slay that blank page, and never let the evil red queen threaten to chop off your head if you say or do something she doesn’t like.
I am finding as I post more and more thoughts on Shakespeare, and as a rule in general, people are very skeptical when it comes to reading or talking about Shakespeare. This, in truth, is a shame, and I find myself scratching my head and wondering if I am just bashing my head against a wall in wanting people to stretch into his plays and words. What am I missing? Or is it that people are doing themselves an injustice in reading the first ‘thou’ or ‘whence’, shaking their head in intimidation and shutting the book?
Curiouser and curiouser, I find.
I started doing some research on what people of Shakespeare’s generation thought about him, and while I do acknowledge that his generation already used (to a certain extent) his wordage and they were familiar with the Elizabethan stage, I started wondering about the ordinary person; or what about later generations who read his plays? What did they think?
Here is what I came across in Craig’s editorial: “A powerful impulse came to the study and appreciation of Shakespeare with the generation who lived during the epoch of the French Revolution. A new Shakespeare criticism was part of that revival of art and letters which we ordinarily call the Romantic Movement. The thinkers of that day were interested in a wider variety of ideas about life than were the pseudo-classicists. They found in Shakespeare such a marvelously significant and consistent picture of life that they came to think of him as endowed with the insight of a seer and the power of a poet, as greater and more significant than life itself. Each of his plays became a microcosm capable of yielding to the student, if he came with love and admiration in his heart, finer truth than science could yield. Science, they argued, bounds itself by fact; poetry has no such limits, but is a mode of revelation of the philosophy of life, presenting in concrete and constructive form what life means and what life might be. Shakespeare, the poet, was thus metamorphosed into a philosopher and teacher so that his works became a hunting ground where one might find the greatest thoughts about existence.”
Wow! What a boost into immortality for this small town actor and writer from Stratford-upon-Avon!!
But what about today? Where is this thinking on Shakespeare in the ordinary modern world of today? Will a movie need to be made, will a game for the new gaming system need to be created, will an app for our cell phones have to be developed to reach the millions of modern tech seekers in this generation for Shakespeare to find a voice in this world of microchip and internet flood? Will his ancient words and his creation of the 17th-century human even make a ripple in this ocean?
My hopeful heart says yes, that somehow his plays still matter and his works will continue to be a hunting ground where one might find the greatest thoughts about existence. Craig continues later saying, “Human nature remains the same from age to age,” so we must continue to see Shakespeare, the poet, as that philosopher and teacher for this modern generation for when we read his plays, we see ourselves. We are Hamlet in his cowardice, in his pain; We are Iago in our jealousy and hate; We are Juliet in our teenage rebelliousness and first love; We are Prince Harry in his stirring ambition and victory, and on and on and on…
These are my thoughts for today about the man, the genius and the poet. I would love to hear your thoughts on how his works influence you or how one might encourage this modern generation to delve into his words…. please comment below!
Welcome to the podcast, Bruce Bishop, author of “Unconventional Daughters” – a fascinating story set in the 1920s based on some letters Bruce had of a very intriguing family who pushed some of the social boundaries of the “Roaring 20s”.