Humorous historical fiction set in Egypt when Cleopatra, at 15, starts to rule with her father (long before Julius Caesar and Marc Antony) — Book-2 in the series. Not for the kiddies: adult themes and situations, but nothing graphic.
An out-of-the-box romp through Ptolemaic Egypt, without elitist aristocratic snobbery and posturing. Even Cleopatra, her father the Pharaoh, and Caesar (in Gaul) are all real people: people you’d recognize from your neighborhood … like that opera singer across the street that picks the oddest times to practice, rattling your windows when blasting in your direction. Immerse yourself in ancient Egypt, which, other than raw technology, isn’t really that different from where YOU live … except for residents that are probably more entertaining.
Cleopatra is learning to rule, faced with the bankruptcy of Egypt and a crippling debt to Rome … all caused by her father. She becomes co-regent then queen, sharing the throne with her father (no fiction, so far). The stories center around her schemes to raises finances, and the personalities of people that do the real work outside the royal court. Women call the shots, men do the sweat labor.
53-52 BC follows the same individuals as the 1st book, plus a few more needed to work all the moving pieces in state organized tomb robbing. Visit actual tombs in the Valley of Kings, while the law of unexpected consequences pushes the narrative. Witness what a clever entrepreneur can do with a little startup money … and how it can be contagious. Follow Caesar’s movements in Gaul from a particularly Egyptian perspective.
Scholars, scribes, priestesses, working girls, military, sailors, bandits, pirates, assassins, crocodiles, scorpions, temple mysteries … and a small dog. What’s not to like? More complete descriptions and ALL SORTS of supplementary information on the website.
Targeted Age Group:: 18 to 80
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
“I Claudius” opened my eyes to historic figures NOT being heroic mannequins that only spouted memorable quotes … they were people. I like to say they weren't “like” us … they “were” us. The same types of people, from bakeries to government offices, are the same across 2000 years … and more.
I wanted to create works of light humor that explored what it would be like to put on an Egyptian kilt or sheath dress and just try to get by, with the sames kinds of obstacles that we have in the present day. The technology is different, but not the people.
I suppose that would make a short childrens' book, but I added politics, and adventure, and family issues, and relationships, and little romance. You may not LOL, but I hope you smile while you read it.
I didn't pick Cleopatra because she's “sexy”: she's only 16 in this book. I picked the time because there's a full blown, highly advanced civilization … on the skids. There's little recorded history for this time in Egypt, but in the big picture, it's pretty obvious what happens … which leaves a lot of opportunity for my writing.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I don't like exposition, although sometimes it's a necessary evil. I prefer dialog, and the book is mostly conversations … no sweeping descriptions of unbelievable palaces, or elegant royal robes, or vast scenery … just people.
I found out early that the best exchanges, the ones with the pithiest lines, were things I had actually participated in or overheard. All the characters are people that I've known (some are composites). I find this “rings truer” than if I try to invent someone out of thin air. When you stumble across a line that you think is very, very clever … I stole it.
I created one character specifically for a conversation to avoid blatant exposition. He wasn't happy to fade back into the background and insisted on injecting himself into the story, becoming a major character. That happened a lot: once I gave a character a name, they wanted to be part of the narrative.
My style is to describe a character enough to be three dimensional, to make them “interesting”. After that, they're on their own … I just follow them around and jot down what they do.
It was a breezy day and it seemed the entire population of Alexandria was arranged on the shore, outside royal boundaries of course. Despite the women’s protests, Dakka and Kalek were sitting outside watching the sea … in their loincloths. The Pharaoh came out to join them, looked a bit puzzled, then took off his kilt and sat beside them. The Pharaoh’s servant poured beer. Kalek and Dakka had more common low-strength beer in reserve.
The ships were lining themselves up, waiting for the start signal. Alaric showed up with a stack of pi’s. The Pharaoh looked quite alarmed.
“That’s not fair. You know we can’t eat that!”
“Not only are we putting our non-royal grubby paws on it, it came from a bakery in Alexandria … common people have been touching it. There’s no telling what’s in it, Majesty. Probably poison. Delicious poison, Majesty.”
“You BASTARDS! It’ll take forever for our cook to make one.”
“Don’t worry, Majesty. We spoke to him already … here they come now, Majesty.”
Two royal pi’s were delivered by the Pharaoh’s staff.
“Don’t tease your Divine Pharaoh. That was mean.”
Someone hit Selene’s bell at the top of the Pharos and the ships began to race.
“This is really marvelous, Kalek. How did you arrange it?”
“Hannibal was on board right away, but I had to come up with a prize to motivate the crews to participate on their day off, Majesty.”
“What’s the prize?”
“A trophy that gets their names engraved on it and some cash. I figure to reuse the trophy and just add names each time, Majesty.”
“Was it very expensive?”
“I plan to offset it with the betting receipts, Majesty.”
“It’s pretty simple. There’s multiple races … a winner each time. If there’s a tie, they’ll race again. If it doesn’t get done today, bets will be refunded, Majesty.”
“Are you handling the bets?”
“Oh no. I have trusted acquaintances doing that … but I get 5% off the top, Majesty. Then I get the extra business from our pi bakery. We’ve got guys selling up and down the coast, Majesty.”
“Wait. Your bakery? … the one you wanted the German for?”
“But Otho is our cook.”
“His son works in our bakery, Majesty.”
“Oh! The one with problems? We wondered where he got to.”
There was another ring from Selene’s bell as the first ship crossed the buoy. A great cheer went up … from approximately half the crowd.
The Pharaoh was giving Kalek a very curious look.
“Where’d you get the money to start?”
“I got a loan for the building and supplies, Majesty.”
“How much do you owe?”
“It’s paid off, Majesty.”
“You got a loan to buy the building,
got the girl to run the business,
got the son to make the pi,
paid off the loan,
financed the prize to get ships to race,
organized betting to get a cut,
so you could sit here in your underwear and watch something exciting,
while drinking beer, having pi delivered, and collecting money without effort?”
“Problem? Majesty? It’s easier with note cards.”
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