Describe Lily of the Nile in a sentence.
Lily of the Nile is a novel about Cleopatra's daughter, who was captured by the Romans and marched through the streets in chains at the age of ten, only to be spared by the emperor and to become the most powerful client queen in his empire.
How did it feel writing your first YA novel?
Quite honestly, I didn't know I was writing a young adult novel while I was writing it. I just wanted to tell a good story and bring Selene's history to life in a vivid and imaginative way. The fact that the heroine was so young and the subject matter was a coming-of-age tale didn't occur to me until it was all written!
In Lily Of The Nile, you’re against Romans, is there a particular reason why?
This is a great question. The truth is, I don't have anything against the Romans; in fact, I'm a big fan of ancient Roman culture and history. Most of my grandparents are Italian and the Romans are my ancestors! However, Lily of the Nile wasn't my story. It was Selene's. Consequently, I tried to adopt the biases I thought she might have coming from a rather enlightened Alexandrian-Hellenistic court.
Is there anything you are currently working on? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
At the moment I'm finishing up the copy-edits for Song of the Nile, which is the sequel to Lily of the Nile. Whereas Lily followed Selene's childhood in Rome, Song of the Nile will explore the mysterious five year period of her life between which she is thought to have married King Juba II of Mauretania and the time she eventually appears on the coinage of the realm. I'm also in the process of outlining the third and final book of the trilogy in which we will learn about the legacy of Selene and Juba's reign in Mauretania.
Do you have any plans to write a book on any other genre besides historical fiction?
I also write paranormal romance and fantasy as Stephanie Draven. In fact, in late October-early November, I'll be releasing DARK SINS & DESERT SANDS, which is a romance set in the contemporary world but based on Greek and Egyptian mythology. My heroine is a modern day sphinx whose riddles kill and my hero is a modern day mind-controlling minotaur.
Did you always have an interest in ancient Egyptian history?
I think I've always been interested in time periods when women were at a cross-roads. Ancient women, in some respects, had more power than they have had until the present day. I believe Cleopatra VII was more powerful, relatively, than any woman in the Western world before her or since. Egypt was particularly egalitarian when compared with the other ancient cultures surrounding it, and that makes it very interesting to me!
If you could trade places with any of the characters in Lily of the Nile, who would it be and why?
Oh, goodness. I'm not sure I would have liked to live in a world without cell phones and computers but if I had to choose, I suppose it would be Livia. She lived to a ripe old age and had all the luxuries anyone could ask for at her fingertips.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
If you're writing for publication, I think it's best to know your brand before you even start writing and make sure that your books fall into the niche that you're trying to target. Most writers are creative people and their work tends to be all over the place. But you can't really build a career by writing one mystery book, then one romance book, then one fantasy book. You have to drill deep into your chosen genre, so make sure you can live with it for a while!
Thank you so much for having me. It's been a delight!