I had the great pleasure of being an early reader for Vicky's new novel, so I feel like a proud parent as it heads into the world and gets amazing reviews like these:
"A fantastic read..." School Library JournalThey are well-deserved as Vicky is one of the most knowledgeable and talented writers I know. In fact, through her passion for all things Greek, Egyptian, and Roman, she is docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum where Vicky tells the stories behind those index cards in the displays.
"Fascinating...atmospheric...highly memorable." Publisher's Weekly
"Brings ancient Egypt and Rome to life... fascinating..." Booklist
"Intriguing storytelling...a romantic and exciting story." Kirkus
I have enjoyed several of her tours now, and always hear interesting new stories. (Heck, we could have spent an entire day on just one Greek vase!) A visit to the King Tut exhibit when it was in Atlanta further proved her power of story-telling as a crowd ended up following our small group to hear what Vicky would say next.
Well, she's taken all that knowledge and painted us a picture of what life might have been like for the only daughter of the famous Egyptian Queen, Cleopatra. She's filled CLEOPATRA'S MOON with the little details that make a place and time come to life and we, as the reader, have a glimpse of what it might have been like to walk the streets of ancient Egypt or Rome. What a gift she's given us!
I'm beyond thrilled to have Vicky on my blog today to answer a few questions...
Q. How did your passion for ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome begin and how did you foster it?
A. I became fascinated by ancient history when I was in elementary school. It stayed my passion through high school and even into college. But, fearing I wouldn’t be able to “do” anything with a history degree, I got an English degree instead (ha, ha, ha!). Fortunately, I did get a writing gig right out of college but it was in business marketing. I threw myself into my writing career and forgot, for a long while, how much I loved studying and learning about the ancient world.
Q. When did the story of Cleopatra's daughter first come to you? It must have been massive in its scope and quite overwhelming as a topic, so how did you circle around to actually writing it?
A. The story of Cleopatra’s daughter fascinated me from the moment I read about her. How was it that most of us didn’t know the last queen of Egypt had four children? And why didn’t we know it was only her daughter who survived to adulthood? We have only the barest facts about Cleopatra Selene, so writing a biography was not an option. The only way to tell her story was to fill in the blanks with fiction.
Q. I know you are filled with more fun facts about Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome which you share on your blog: HistoryWithATwist.blogspot.com. How did you decide what to include in the book and what to keep out?
A. [Laughing] My editor took care of that! The brilliant Cheryl Klein always spotted when I got obsessed with fascinating facts. She would call it “falling in love” a little too much with the history. At first, I didn’t understand. Why couldn’t I shove every cool detail I could find into the story? But her laser-beam like focus on the emotional arc of the story kept me “honest.” If the factoid didn’t in any way support my character’s growth or direct experience, out it went.
Q. Response to CLEOPATRA'S MOON has been overwhelmingly positive, not just as a good read, but as a great mother-daughter discussion book, a discussion book about free will, and a read for adults as well as young adults. Tell us about some of the feedback you're getting along with your exciting speaking engagements.
A. The response has been beyond anything I could have dreamt about. The biggest deal for me was getting reviewed in the LA Times and The Wall Street Journal. I had no idea that was even a possibility! So to discover that not only had the book been featured, but also that it had received excellent reviews blew me away.
Learning that Teen-Vogue put it on its “Must Read” list and that a writer from Newsweek (on her personal blog) suggested CLEOPATRA’S MOON as a good mother-daughter read was also incredibly exciting. I’d have to say, though, that speaking at the National Junior Classical League (NJCL) convention was especially exciting for me. Surrounded by more than 1,000 teens and young adults with an interest in ancient history? Be still my heart! I felt like I’d found my soul mates!
Q. Finally, how does it feel? You have two chapter books out already, ALEXANDER THE GREAT ROCKS THE WORLD (named to the "25 Books All Young Georgians Should Read" list by the Georgia Center for the Book) and CLEOPATRA RULES, but this is your first novel. Share the glow...
A. My glow of excitement is ridiculous. I CANNOT believe this is happening to me. When the LA Times review came in, my brother (author, Michael Alvear) said, “This is a dream come true!”
But here’s the thing—it wasn’t a dream come true because I couldn’t even conceive of such a thing happening to even DREAM about it! To work with Cheryl Klein and be supported by Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic? To have such a gorgeous book cover? To garner so many positive reviews? Amazing. There are little pinch marks all up and down my arms as I continue to check whether this is really happening. I’m also incredibly grateful to friends like you, Diane Capriola, Liz Conrad (who is sorely missed) and others from my critique groups who encouraged me to continue writing Selene’s story. The children’s book writing community is amazing. I only hope that I can give back a small measure of the support that was given to me so freely.
I'm SOOOO happy for you Vicky!!!!
Vicky's official launch party will be tonight, this Friday, at 7 p.m. at LIttle Shop of Stories in downtown Decatur, Georgia (toga’s optional!).
GIVEAWAY!!!! And here at dulemba.com, Vicky is kind enough to offer a FREE SIGNED COPY of CLEOPATRA'S MOON. As soon as I hit 25 comments, I'll do a drawing. And be sure to add your email address!! I have to be able to contact you, and you must live in the Continental US to win.
And there's more!!!!
Listen to this great interview with Vicky hosted by Oasis Audio:
And listen to an excerpt from Cleopatra's Moon NOW!