I am very excited today to welcome Elisabeth Storrs to my blog as part of Aussie Author Month to talk about her book and about getting the word out about her debut historical fiction novel! I am even more excited to be offering a giveaway of two copies of her book (with the gorgeous cover!). By the way, if you are interested in finding out more about Elisabeth's book, head over to Historical Tapestry, where Elisabeth wrote a fabulous guest post including lots of images of Ancient Etruscan art for us a while ago!
Elisabeth's Storrs first novel, The Wedding Shroud, is set in early Rome and Etruria, and was researched and written over a period of ten years. It was released last September by Pier 9 /Murdoch Books in Australia and New Zealand. Elisabeth is currently writing the sequel which will be released in 2012. She lives with her husband and two sons in Sydney.
The ancient world has always held a fascination for me. It must be in my genes because one of my fondest memories is that of my father telling me stories about the Greek gods. As a kid, I also found a book in our house that had been handed down from generation to generation within my family entitled The Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome by E.M. Berens. It was published in 1892.
This book has a leather cover, the spine frayed so that the webbing that binds the folios is exposed. The pages are mottled, yellowing. It is a treasure. Inside, the lives of the fickle, adulterous, benevolent or malevolent deities are revealed; their bickering and flaws similar to mortals but their ability to bless, curse and manipulate man’s fate, divine.
Discovering Berens was not enough. I want to read such tales in the language of those times. Nerd that I was, I eagerly studied Latin at school and then Ancient Greek at university while also learning the history that gives context to such literature. It was wonderful to at last be able to translate parts of the works of classical authors and philosophers such as Livy and Homer, Plato and Socrates, Euripides and Julius Caesar.
The greatest impact upon me was that of the poignant tale told by the Roman poet Virgil of Trojan Aeneas, and Dido, the queen of Carthage. How tragic their love was! For Aeneas, fated to found Rome, deserted Dido causing her to throw herself upon a pyre in despair as his ship sailed away.
My novel also tells a love story between two people from different worlds: Rome and Etruria (a civilization in Italy that predated the Roman republic.) A young Roman girl, Caecilia, is married to Mastarna, a nobleman from the Etruscan city of Veii, to seal a truce between two implacable enemies. She is determined to remain true to her Roman beliefs but finds herself grappling with conflicting moralities when she discovers a sophisticated culture that offers her independence and pleasure. She is also introduced to a mystical religion which gives her the chance to defer her destiny. And so the gods play their role in Caecilia’s life as she strives to woo the goddess of fate and avoid the demons of the Afterworld.
I researched the early Romans and Etruscans for ten years, sitting up reading history books into the night while setting aside two to four hours every week to write the novel. In that time I had to juggle the ups and downs of raising young children and running a business so I always looked forward to escaping into ancient times. I now have a contract to write the sequel so the chance to once again delve into the worlds of Rome and Veii is irresistible to me.
As Australia is such a small market, it was hard to find an agent and a publisher so I was lucky that Pier 9 was prepared to give a debut writer a chance. Promoting the novel has also proven to be quite a challenge. I’ve set up my own website www.elisabethstorrs.com which explains my journey and the inspiration for the book. I’ve also ventured into the world of Facebook and Twitter. I hope to start my own blog although the deadline for the sequel beckons! Local libraries have been very supportive in providing a venue for me to speak and I’ve enjoyed giving author talks to book clubs as well. Gaining publicity in the media, however, is very hard for an unknown novelist and so I was delighted to discover the blogging world with its wonderful community of historical fiction lovers. Ironically I’ve found it difficult to be reviewed in Australia; instead the most encouraging reviews have been from reviewers and bloggers in the USA which is fantastic. At present The Wedding Shroud can only be found in Australian and New Zealand but is available online at such retailers as www.dymocks.com.au, www.booktopia.com.au, www.qbd.com.au, www.thenile.com.au and other Australian online bookstores.
As for the myths of Greece and Rome, I still keep Berens beside my bed, a little piece of family history as well as a great resource. Sadly my father died a few years ago without reading my book. I think he would have liked learning about Etruria, I hope you will too.
Elisabeth is pleased to have two copies of The Wedding Shroud available to win for Australian readers! If possible, it would be great if the winners could review the book within two months of the competition to help spread the word. In addition, Elisabeth is always happy to be interviewed or provide guests posts as well so if you are interested in hosting Elisabeth please contact her through her website.
To enter the giveaway click on the link to the form below. The giveaway is open to Australian residents, and will close at the end of Aussie Author Month - April 30.
And in closing, here is the trailer for the book!