Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Recommend, or otherwise, books on Alexander (fiction or non-fiction). Promote your novel here!

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Jeanne Reames
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Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Post by Jeanne Reames » Wed Aug 23, 2017 4:23 am

Not sure if this belongs here, or in ATG in the Media (moderators, please move if I'm in the wrong spot), but...I am now free to announce:

Riptide Publishing has bought a 2-book novel pair from me about Alexander before he became The Great.

It should appear in late 2018 or early 2019 (depending on edits, timing, my work schedule, etc.). The tentative title of the series is Dancing with the Lion: Becoming & Rise. Whether it will stay that remains to be seen.

This is, to my knowledge, the first time a publishing house has optioned a novel about Alexander written by a Macedonian specialist. Obviously a fair bit of research went into the novels, and not just about ancient Macedonia. I spent a couple of days on my butt in the PSU library researching ancient glass-making techniques for a single line in a chapter...then subsequently cut it. LOL!

Some of the "perks" -- Hephaistion is a character, not a side-show. Philip isn't an idiot, and Olympias is not dancing with snakes, even if Alex is dancing with lions. Kleopatra is a POV character, as is Kampaspe, so women actually figure, and the sisters matter. And as always, the view is looking in from the North, not looking at Macedon through Greek eyes. Everybody gets their 15 minutes of stupidity (e.g., perfect characters are damn boring), except *maybe* Kleopatra. Ha.

Are they the historical figures? Of course not. They're fictional characters, and ultimately fiction is about who we are now and what it's possible for us to become. But I did build them from a firm historical base. And if I wouldn't suggest this to most readers, to those familiar with Alexander, I'd advise reading the Historical Note in the back *first*, just so you know what decisions I made in terms of the various controversies in Philip's rule and ATG's early life. It's not like any of it will be a "spoiler." :D

From the very end of the Historical Note:

"In the end, whatever approach one takes to Alexander, whatever theories one subscribes to—more or less hostile to the conqueror—we are left with the man himself in all his complexity and contradiction. The phenomenon called "Alexander the Great" has evoked vastly different interpretations from his era to ours. It's tempting to seek some internal consistency for his behavior, or to force it when it can't be found. Yet no one is consistent.

Alexander was neither demon nor god, whatever he wanted to believe about himself. He was a man, capable of cruelty and sympathy, brilliance and blindness, paranoia and an open-handed generosity.

As remarkable as he was, he was human.

And that's what makes him interesting."
----
Dr. Jeanne Reames
Director, Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Graduate Studies Chair
University of Nebraska, Omaha
287 ASH; 6001 Dodge Street
Omaha NE 68182
http://jeannereames.net/cv.html

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Re: Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Post by Alexias » Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:28 am

Excellent! Look forward to reading it.

Interesting that you see Alexander's character as 'inconsistent'?

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Re: Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Post by Phaifan » Wed Aug 23, 2017 3:12 pm

I can't wait to read it. I can't get enough when it comes to reading books and stories about Alexander. I have your thesis on Hephaestion, and I've used it for information on many of my own stories.

Excited and looking forward to this! :D

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Re: Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Post by Sandros » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:05 pm

Hope this will be available also on Europe. Looking forward to it!

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Re: Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Post by Jeanne Reames » Thu Aug 24, 2017 5:27 am

Alexander is a teen boy in the novel, so of course he's inconsistent. *GRIN* But more to the point, I think *most* people are inconsistent because we're human. We change across time, and consistency is, I think, a fiction of our need to make sense of our own actions. Historians can be especially guilty of this when examining ancient people. Our historical figures are often far more consistent than are real people. ;)

The novel is very much a coming-of-age story, so there's a big focus on Alexander figuring out who he is, in the shadow of his famous father. At the time, we must remember, nobody had any idea what he'd achieve on his own.

And yes, it should be available easily overseas, as it will primarily be an ebook, but will be available also in print-on-demand format, and (depending) Riptide may also have a regular print release. But the ebook will be available anywhere via their website, at the very least.
----
Dr. Jeanne Reames
Director, Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Graduate Studies Chair
University of Nebraska, Omaha
287 ASH; 6001 Dodge Street
Omaha NE 68182
http://jeannereames.net/cv.html

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Re: Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Post by sikander » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:01 pm

Congratulations, Jeanne,

I know this has been both a long labour and a labour of love for you.
I have wondered, after your first draft so long ago, how you felt about tackling a fictional work, and how it was going.

Good to see this moment has arrived; looking forward to your work.

Regards,
Sikander

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Re: Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Post by delos13 » Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:24 am

I am very happy to read this announcement and looking forward to read the book.

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Re: Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Post by sean_m » Fri Sep 01, 2017 2:04 pm

Jeanne Reames wrote:This is, to my knowledge, the first time a publishing house has optioned a novel about Alexander written by a Macedonian specialist. Obviously a fair bit of research went into the novels, and not just about ancient Macedonia. I spent a couple of days on my butt in the PSU library researching ancient glass-making techniques for a single line in a chapter...then subsequently cut it. LOL!
Not just that, but I am struggling to think of any ancient or medieval historian who wrote historical novels and marketed them as novels (although I think that most of us have read a book or two on Alexander which might be better shelved in the fiction section!)

I thought I remembered that Ellis Peters was a pen name for a professional medievalist, but Wikipedia says she was more of a self-taught amateur like L. Sprague de Camp. Harry Turtledove became a novelist after graduate school but focusses on alternate history and fantasy because they pay better. So good luck with your project!
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Re: Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Post by derek » Fri Sep 01, 2017 6:31 pm

You should also consider just how far you’re going to take historical accuracy. Yes, you live in fear of the howler like having Alexander check his wristwatch, but you also don’t want to write a textbook that bores the reader. Eg: Alexander’s in Babylon. You want to include the Hanging Gardens as descriptive prose, but you know they probably never existed and if they did, they were probably in Ninevah. Do you leave them out as being historically inaccurate, or use author’s licence and make your story that much more interesting.

Good luck with the novel.

Derek

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Re: Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Post by Alexias » Fri Sep 01, 2017 8:22 pm

I've had a look at the publisher's website. They deal exclusively with gay fiction, with the emphasis on romance. Can we expect anything explicit?

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Re: Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Post by Jeanne Reames » Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:56 am

Sean -- Actually Peter Green wrote a couple, one on Sappho and another on Alcibiades (which I personally prefer to the Pressfield novel). I keep telling Beth (Carney) she needs to write one on Olympias after she retires. :-) Also, Judith Tarr is a medievalist (PhD from Yale) who writes historical fantasy, and while Kate Elliott isn't, herself, a medievalist, her sister is (teaches at Duke).

Derek -- Have no fear, there is a happy medium that includes historical accuracy (within reason) but doesn't show one's notecards on every page. The difference is to have characters the reader can care about, which is what a novel is about anyway. This novel is about people. From the very beginning of the Historical Note in the back:

Alexander’s magnetism in life is rivaled only by his magnetism after death. He’s generated histories and biographies, songs and folk tales, moral tales and religious parables, romantic fantasies, glowing acclamations, and rabid damnations stretching from antiquity to the present. This novel is just one more in a long line of contestants.
By their very nature, stories touch the capacity of the heart, move us in ways visceral as much as intellectual. In French, histoire can mean either history or story, and the same is true of storia in Italian. To tell stories is part of our nature as meaning-seeking, meaning-making creatures. Historical fiction is, therefore, less concerned with who any given historical figure actually was than with who we are now, and what it’s possible for us to become.
The same might be said of our need to pursue history, of course. And if I’d hardly argue there’s no difference between fiction and history, any good historian knows how much supposition goes into her theories about the past. Of historical fiction, novelist Marguerite Yourcenar said over fifty years ago what I can only echo now:
"Which is not to suggest, as is too often done, that historical truth is never to be attained, in any of its aspects. With this kind of truth, as with all others, the problem is the same: one errs more or less." (Marguarite Yourcenar, "Reflections on the Composition," Memoirs of Hadrian, Grace Frick, trans. (New York, 1963), 330.)


Ironically, I think writing fiction makes me a better historian. ;)

Alexias -- I'm not going to pull my punches, no--about war, sex, or anything else--but it will not be marketed as a Romance primarily, or at least so I was assured. Riptide is interested in expanding their market to include gay-friendly novels of other types, which still include a love story. So yes, the book deals with the relationship of Alexander and Hephaistion, but also the relationships between both boys and their respective fathers, and brothers, as well as Alexander's with his mother and sisters. Kleopatra is a POV character. (I'm tired of the women being ignored, although I will admit I don't do much with Kyanne.) It is straight historical fiction (excuse the pun *grin*), probably closest in style to literary fiction, and Hephaistion is more than just a cypher and a love interest. He is, arguably, the main character. In fact, I'd say he is the main character of the first book, while Alexander is the main character of the second. (The first book's main plot arc follows H., while the second follows A.)
----
Dr. Jeanne Reames
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University of Nebraska, Omaha
287 ASH; 6001 Dodge Street
Omaha NE 68182
http://jeannereames.net/cv.html

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Re: Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Post by sean_m » Sun Sep 03, 2017 5:34 pm

Jeanne (if I may): Thanks for the list of authors, I will check them out!

Alexias Also, it is extremely hard to sell historical novels in North America, so there are very few dedicated publishers. Christian Cameron has said that he earns about 10% as much on a pure historical novel as on one in a thinly disguised historical setting plus magic. So every time that a North American publisher takes on a historical novel, it is a bit of an experiment, and would-be authors usually have to work hard to find the right publisher and persuade them to take the chance .
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Re: Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Post by Jeanne Reames » Mon Sep 04, 2017 6:02 am

What Sean says is exactly correct about historicals. By contrast, the LBGTQ market is very large (although historicals don't necessarily fare well there), and Romance is the bread-and-butter of publishing. Riptide is taking a chance on me, and I'm grateful. I like to think of the novel as an LGBTQ-friendly coming-of-age historical novel. But it is not a gay Romance; it violates most of the rules of the Romance genre, which does, in fact, have fairly strict rules, and readers get picky. It won't be marketed as a gay Romance because it would be eviscerated by Romance readers if it was. That said, a number of dedicated readers of Romance also enjoy other genres, especially if they have a love story as part of the larger plot, which this does (as do many coming-of-age novels, as learning what love [and sex] are is part of coming-of-age). :lol:
----
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Graduate Studies Chair
University of Nebraska, Omaha
287 ASH; 6001 Dodge Street
Omaha NE 68182
http://jeannereames.net/cv.html

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Re: Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Post by Alexias » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:43 am

Also, it is extremely hard to sell historical novels in North America, so there are very few dedicated publishers.
What Sean says is exactly correct about historicals.
Interesting that you say that since by far and away the largest audience for Alexander fan fiction is from the US, but I guess it is a cultural and demographic thing since the fan fiction audience tends to dominated by female teens, but by no means exclusively. Sex and sandals sells it seems.

The demographics on fan fiction are interesting. The hits from Australia, New Zealand and Canada are negligible, so it is not an English-language thing, but surprisingly China and Russia are big hitters. The biggest surprises are repeated hits from Iran, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan. Sometimes I wonder if these arrive by googling different things on Alexander eg Zadracarta.

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Re: Dancing with the Lion (novels on the young ATG)

Post by sean_m » Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:30 pm

Alexias wrote:Interesting that you say that since by far and away the largest audience for Alexander fan fiction is from the US, but I guess it is a cultural and demographic thing since the fan fiction audience tends to dominated by female teens, but by no means exclusively. Sex and sandals sells it seems.
Wow, I did not know that there was an Alexander fan-fiction community! Novelists and publishers try very hard to find audiences for their books, and try approaches like self-publishing, ebooks, crowdfunding, etc. but right now it is almost impossible for authors in the USA and Canada to earn a fair wage writing historical fiction (and my understanding is that this has been true since the middle of the 20th century). Some people on the Internet like to tell the novelists and publishers that they are doing things all wrong, but so far none of them has showed that they have a better way which works for anyone but the person pushing it.

So we are lucky that writers like Dr. Reames are willing to write such books as a labour of love!
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