Tag Archives: Stephanie Thornton

Interview with Stephanie Thornton about Ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut, Eating Chocolate, and Writing History

Daughter of the Gods, Stephanie Thornton~
Interview and Giveaway

THERE IS A GIVEAWAY ON THIS POST!

Before we get to our interview with Stephanie Thornton, author of Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt, you can enter to win a copy of the fabulous book by clicking on the Rafflecopter link HERE. You must reside in US or Canada, though. Sorry, these are the rules from Historical Fiction Virtual Tours. You have until May 30 to enter!

*******************************************************

Hi Stephanie, my friend!! I am so happy to have you back here on Oh, for the Hook of a Book for your to entrance readers with your amazing wit and funny bone…..well, maybe a little bit of historical tidbits as well. I’ll try not to monopolize too much of your extremely busy schedule, but I hope you’ll come in for a chat, some coffee, and I made us special some Cadbury eggs cupcakes from the Cadbury Mini-Eggs I saved especially to bake for you!! So, what kind of coffee creamer can get for you?

Stephanie: You had me at Cadbury mini-eggs! And actually, do you have any wine? Why not go all out to celebrate, right?

Erin: Yep, have wine too, will pour you a much needed glass. Have a plop down on my comfy couch, feel free to put your feet on my coffee table, and tell me how you’ve been this week? How EXCITED are you for Daughter of the Gods to publish???!! (I know I am THRILLED!!! :D)

Daughter of the Gods(1)

Stephanie: This has been a whirlwind of a week, but I’m ecstatic to finally see Daughter of the Gods hit the shelves. My daughter told me when she was three that she’d “publish” it for me by putting its stack of printer paper pages on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. Super cute, but the real thing is even better!

Erin: I know I had you stop by for an interview when The Secret History, your novel of Empress Theodora, published. That was a super interview and anyone who missed that can read it HERE. But I think I’ll have a few new questions for you this time around. So let’s get started.

Q: Your novel, The Secret History, was a huge debut success. But you actually wrote Daughter of the Gods before The Secret History in your writing process. How does it feel to publish two books within such a short time period even if some of the writing was done before hand? Did you have to re-edit any of it? Finally, how does it feel to finally spread it out into the world? And with such a lovely cover too!!

A: I tore apart Daughter of the Gods while The Secret History was on submission with publishers, but still had to do another revision for my editor. Fortunately, it was fairly light and then it was given a drool-worthy cover. One of my life goals was to get Hatshepsut’s story published, so I’m thrilled to be able to cross that one off my bucket list.

Q: Your second book, Daughter of the Gods, is about Hatshepsut, one of Egypt’s most successful Pharaohs (even being a female!). Tell us about your OBSESSION with Hatshepsut. What inspired it, when did it start, what fuels it, and why do you admire her?

A: First, Hatshepsut is from ancient Egypt which is hands-down my favorite historical era of all time. I stumbled across her after being assigned a biography project in junior high. I wanted a famous female Egyptian, but Cleopatra was taken. The good old encyclopedia (remember those?) had an entry on Hatshepsut, but it was pretty short. Later, I was able to read Joyce Tyldesley’s Hatchepsut and that really started my obsession. Hatshepsut is such an intriguing, enigmatic character, especially considering that she was almost wiped from history by her nephew, Tutmose III, at the end of his rule. She ruled a man’s world and did it better than most of the men who came both before and after her, and that alone justifies my adoration of her.

Statue of Hatshepsut on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art/ Wikipedia

Statue of Hatshepsut on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art/ Wikipedia

Q: What part of her life does Daughter of the Gods focus on, or is it a life-long biographical fiction? What makes your novel vary from the average biography? How much is fact-based and how much is fantasy?

A: I stuck to the known facts of Hatshepsut’s life, but unlike a biography, had to fill in the gaps for her motivations and also some of her family life. Egyptians were good about documenting when people died (or really, failing to mention them again once they were gone), but didn’t record how people died or why they did the things they did. Thus, for example, I chose to have Hatshepsut’s sister die during a hippo hunt gone awry, when in reality she may have died of something as simple as an infection. I chose to focus on Hatshepsut’s early years, her marriage to her half-brother through her regency, and finally to her assumption of the Isis Throne. That’s where all the juicy stuff happens!

Q: Hatshepsut is regarded as one of the major influential and successful women in history. What types of things did she accomplish and why is she so highly regarded?

A: Hatshepsut likely quelled a rebellion in Kush (there are tomb descriptions of her on the battlefield, but this may have been propaganda as Egyptian pharaohs often exaggerated their accomplishments). However, she did reopen trade routes with the land of Punt, build her amazing temple at Deir el-Bahri, the Red Chapel, and numerous obelisks in Karnak, several of which you can still see today. Her reign ushered in an era of peace, thus beginning Egypt’s Golden Age. Not only that, but she also started the first public zoo, using many of the animals—giraffes, baboons, etc.—that were brought back from Punt. That’s a pretty impressive resume!

Q: Isn’t it too bad that the false beard represented power and many of her statues feature her with one? I wonder how she really looked like and what she dressed like in her real life? Any ideas?

A: There are depictions of Hatshepsut as Great Royal Wife on various temples, but they’re stylized as is common in ancient Egyptian art. She likely wore what most noblewomen did at the time—loose sheaths made of lightweight linen. However, based on Hatshepsut’s mummy, she was fairly short, had the Thutmosid family overbite, and was extremely overweight at her death.

Q: What factual non-fiction books, movies, documentaries have you seen or read about her that you can recommend to us as adults?

There is a History Channel documentary on the discovery of Hatshepsut’s mummy that came out about six years ago, and Joyce Tyldesley’s Hatchepsut is a solid read about Hat’s entire life. Egyptologist Kara Cooney is also coming out with a new biography this fall that I’m excited to read!

Q: With my middle daughter being part-Egyptian, I’d love her to learn more about this amazing woman from her culture. Do you found books in the middle reader to teen sect that she might be interested in?

Sadly, I don’t know of any books about Hatshepsut that are aimed at a younger audience. I did hear a few years back about a picture book based on the zoo Hatshepsut created with the animals from Punt, but have never found a copy.

Q: Daughter of the Gods is launching now, but you have another book already done that you wrote this year, called The Tiger Queens, which is coming out on November 4. Can you briefly tell us about this?

A: The Tiger Queens is the story of Genghis Khan’s first wife and daughter, as well as his daughter-in-law and a Persian slave. It’s something a historical family saga, spanning 80 years from Genghis’ early life to the ascension of his grandson Mongke. It’s a pretty wild ride and quite the departure from the golden palaces of Hatshepsut and Theodora!

Tiger Queens

Q: How did you juggle the announcements and work with The Secret History, Daughter of the Gods, and then writing and editing Tiger Queens all within a year? Plus, add to that your full-time teaching job, running, baking cupcakes, taking care of your daughter, and…and…and…what is your secret to do it all so successfully?

A: I don’t sleep. (And I eat a lot of cupcakes and ice cream cake, hence the running.) I’d die without Post-Its to keep my to-do lists straight each day. Also, I make sure I travel fairly regularly so I can leave some of the work at home!

Q: What have you learned about yourself and about your writing over the last whirlwind of a year?

A: I have to be disciplined. There are writers out there who can write and revise a book in just a few months and then take time off from writing, but that’s impossible with my crazy schedule. So I plod along with just a few pages a day. Eventually it adds up and then I’ve got a book!

Q: Do you write with an outline or by the seat of your pants? How do you focus yourself and keep details organized?

A: I make an outline of all the historical events that I have to include and go from there. I didn’t outline The Tiger Queens as much as I should have which resulted in some painful revisions. I’ve got an eight-page outline for Book #4 to try to avoid repeating that misery and keep all my details straight!

Q: How have your honed your research, writing, and editing talents that you already are putting to good use on your NEXT book about Alexander the Great?

A: I’ve got a fairly good process for getting the plot set in my first draft, revising for characterization and sub-plots during my first revision, and then cleaning up the prose and adding quirky historical setting details in my subsequent edits. I’ve learned to leave out the setting details until last simply because they’re my favorite part and I can rarely bring myself to delete them once they’re there, even if I know I need to delete the scene they’re in!

Q: So Tiger Queens is next and you are currently writing your fourth novel. When can we expect to see that publish? What is next after that for you? What other women in history intrigue you that you might put on the short list to write about?

A: The book about Alexander the Great will come out in November 2015. After that I’m not sure whom I’ll write about!

Q: OK, some fun things are at hand now. What is your favorite Doctor Who episode to date? What movie(s) are you looking forward to seeing this summer?

A: I love every episode of Doctor Who! (Except maybe Love & Monsters because the ending was so weird.) I’m a sucker for a good romance, so I’ll say the end of Season 2 with Army of Ghosts/Doomsday, mostly because I bawled my eyes out. Sadly, I have no idea what movies are coming out this summer. I only get to the theater to see kid-friendly movies and summers in Alaska are glorious, so we tend to hit the movies only when it’s winter: dark and cold.

Q: Now that Easter is over, and the Cadbury Eggs on our cupcakes today are probably our last, what is your new choice of candy to get you through the day (or evening)?

A: What?! No more Cadbury Eggs? That’s sacrilege! Lately I’ve been eating a lot of Reese’s peanut butter cups, but I actually bake so much that we usually have brownies and cookies in the house. (Again, hence all the running I have to do.)

Q: If you could time travel what two places would you go to?

A: Egypt, straight to Hatshepsut’s palace to find out the answers to all the questions I have for. (Especially about her and Senenmut.) As for the second… Probably to ancient Greece so I could grill Alexander the Great and all my characters for Book #4!

Q: Where can readers and writers connect with you?

A: My website is www.stephanie-thornton.com, and I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads!

Erin: THANK YOU, Stephanie, for hanging out with me a little while here. It’s always a highlight of my day to connect with you. I know that Daughter of the Gods is going to be a HUGE HIT and I am so stoked about your success. It’s well-deserved to such an astounding writer and even equally awesome person. Talk to you soon!

Stephanie: Thanks so much for having me, Erin! And thank you especially for the Cadbury mini-egg cupcakes!

Daughter of the Gods, Synopsis~

Daughter of the Gods(1)Publication Date: May 6, 2014
NAL Trade
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Egypt, 1400s BC. The pharaoh’s pampered second daughter, lively, intelligent Hatshepsut, delights in racing her chariot through the marketplace and testing her archery skills in the Nile’s marshlands. But the death of her elder sister, Neferubity, in a gruesome accident arising from Hatshepsut’s games forces her to confront her guilt…and sets her on a profoundly changed course.

Hatshepsut enters a loveless marriage with her half brother, Thut, to secure his claim to the Isis Throne and produce a male heir. But it is another of Thut’s wives, the commoner Aset, who bears him a son, while Hatshepsut develops a searing attraction for his brilliant adviser Senenmut. And when Thut suddenly dies, Hatshepsut becomes de facto ruler, as regent to her two-year-old nephew.

Once, Hatshepsut anticipated being free to live and love as she chose. Now she must put Egypt first. Ever daring, she will lead a vast army and build great temples, but always she will be torn between the demands of leadership and the desires of her heart. And even as she makes her boldest move of all, her enemies will plot her downfall….

Once again, Stephanie Thornton brings to life a remarkable woman from the distant past whose willingness to defy tradition changed the course of history.

Praise for Daughter of the Gods~

“Daughter of the Gods is a wonderfully intimate and dramatic evocation of Ancient Egypt, where one headstrong young woman dares to become pharaoh. Stephanie Thornton vividly portrays the heat and the danger, the passion and the heartbreak of Hatshepsut’s struggle, as she defies even the gods to ensure success on the throne of Egypt. A touching love story combines with a thrilling tale of death, courage and political intrigue to produce a superbly researched and powerfully written novel. This is the kind of book that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. A remarkable story, remarkably told.” -Kate Furnivall, author of Shadows on the Nile

“Stephanie Thornton’s heroines are bold, brave, and powerful–they make me want to stand up and cheer!” -Kate Quinn, author of Lady of the Eternal City

“Daughter of the Gods is a full-out, total immersion experience of ancient Egypt. From her moving love affair with a commoner to her fierce and unwavering commitment to Egypt as a female Pharaoh, Hatshepsut crackles with fascinating complexity. Her ka must be grinning with pleasure at this richly textured account of her life, one that is worthy of the great queen herself. “ -Vicky Alvear Shecter, author of Cleopatra’s Moon “An epic saga that brings ancient Egypt to life with vivid imagery and lovely prose. Stephanie Thornton is a rising star!” -Stephanie Dray, author of Lily of the Nile

Buy the Book~

Amazon US (Kindle)
Amazon US (Paperback)
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
Books-a-Million
IndieBound
Kobo Books

About the Author~

Stephanie ThorntonStephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.

“The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora” is available from NAL/Penguin, and “Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt” will hit the shelves May 2014 and “The Tiger Queens: A Novel of Genghis Khan” will follow in Fall 2014.

For more information, please visit Stephanie Thornton’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

 Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/daughterofthegodstour

Tour Hashtags: #DaughteroftheGodsTour #StephanieThornton #Hatshepsut #VirtualBookTour

Daughter of the Gods_Tour Banner _FINAL

5 Comments

Filed under Q and A with Authors

Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton is a Compelling and Emotional Tale of Ancient Egypt

Daughter of the Gods(1)

Notice: The interview and giveaway for May will be posting sometime soon!! Sorry for inconvenience!

Daughter of the Gods, Review~

If  you put the words book and Ancient Egypt in the same sentence, then you have my undivided attention. So you can imagine how excited I was when I heard last year that one of my favorite debut historical novelists and new writing friend, the awesome Stephanie Thornton, was writing a book on Hatshepsut, one of the most successful Pharoahs in Egyptian history!  Always a huge interest of Stephanie’s since childhood, I knew if she wrote Daughter of the Gods as well as she wrote The Secret History about Empress Theodora, then Hatshepsut’s Ka would be remembered and understood by our modern world.  She succeeded in making the female Pharoah a lasting memory now seared to my heart and mind.

Stephanie does her research well, pours her passions and emotions into her written work, and is becoming quite the historian on forgotten women of the ancient world. What Michelle Moran did for Nefertiti and Nefertari by immortalizing them in engaging and absorbing prose, Stephanie does for us with Hatshepsut. What Stephanie Dray did with her Cleopatra Selene series in terms of being swept away by romance and intrigue, Stephanie Thornton does with Hatshepsut’s story, yet with her own original writing.

Stephanie’s novel is not only well-researched, offering a myriad of information from the 18th dynasty of Ancient Egypt, but highly detailed so that we can feel the heat sear our skin (as well as it being cooled by many ingenious ways), pick the dust from our teeth, savor the morsels of cuisine, and admire and visualize the attire. Stephanie can really set a scene and make us not only spectators, but participants.

Beyond that, her characters are very developed and three-dimensional. We not only have a good understanding of Hatshepsut and feel her many varying degrees of emotions, but Stephanie has a knack also for creating amazing supporting characters such as in Aset, the second wife who becomes her friend, as well as the mothers (hers and of other characters) and the children.  In both her books so far, she really does a good job with the dialogue and emotions between mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters, friend who becomes like mom or sister, etc.  She never forgets any family member and seems to always have them in the proper place.

In her plot, she has someone to cause intrigue, a love interest that is unwanted and scorned, as well as a romantic interest, one that fully consumes Hatshepsut’s being and steals her heart. The love felt within this story is so endearing, especially given Hatshepsut’s raging personality. As an apple, this romance has each half fitting to make a whole and it’s so beautiful.

With all of this, we have emotional turmoil, intrigue, twists and turns, and by the end we are left bereft due to the loss  that such upheaval brings. I was shocked by the end that I didn’t see the finale coming. Then I cried. Then, I had to remember to breathe as I was not. Yet, I am alive to type this, though not fully really wanting to be in the present but still with my nose in that book. I was sad when it ended.

Stephanie doesn’t  hold anything back in regards to the battles fought, the lengths that the Egyptians went to on the battlefield or to create fear of revolt. In some historical fantasies, we don’t have as much blunt, visceral knowledge of the blood, torture, dismembering, and the like as in Stephanie’s novel. She takes us down to the main floor (so to speak) of the battle field and offers things that made even this lover of Egyptian history cringe.

I’m glad she did though, as she showed how brutal a world it truly was and how Egypt having a female Pharoah was extraordinary in terms of the playing field.  She showed Hatshepsut’s merciful heart and loving heart, but also then showed her strength among men, which led her to be able to successfully declare herself Pharoah at a time a woman could not sit on the Isis Throne. Hatshepsut set a precedent becoming Pharoah, which of course is probably why her history was destroyed years later and her images and buildings removed. It’s sad to think about, especially after all she gave up for Egypt to prosper.

Stephanie’s novel was a fully developed historical biography of what Hatshepsut’s life and reign might have been like. In the writing the novel, even though you know Stephanie admires the woman she is writing about, she didn’t let it bias her. She wrote based on factual history too and let us see all of Hatshepsut’s strengths and weaknesses in her personality. She shows us her vulnerable side as well as her temperamental side. But what she shows best is her independent nature and  her ambition.  The novel was well-rounded and kept me in emotional suspense as well as plot suspense.  She created just enough intrigue to keep me guessing, which propelled me to keep turning the pages.

Stephanie completely captures the amazing woman that is Hatshepsut, leading me down the path of her life, letting me in to feel her success and her loss, her love and her sacrifices. I can’t recommend this book highly enough if you like history from ancient civilizations. Stephanie keeps climbing the ladder of success and is rising to sit upon the book throne of best-loved historical authors along many great writers of the genre. 5 stars!

Be sure to watch for my interview with Stephanie to come soon!!

If you have further interest, Stephanie wrote a guest article about Hatshepsut during my Women in History series, see that HERE!

Daughter of the Gods, Synopsis~

Daughter of the GodsPublication Date: May 6, 2014
NAL Trade (Penguin)
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Egypt, 1400s BC. The pharaoh’s pampered second daughter, lively, intelligent Hatshepsut, delights in racing her chariot through the marketplace and testing her archery skills in the Nile’s marshlands. But the death of her elder sister, Neferubity, in a gruesome accident arising from Hatshepsut’s games forces her to confront her guilt…and sets her on a profoundly changed course.

Hatshepsut enters a loveless marriage with her half-brother, Thut, to secure his claim to the Isis Throne and produce a male heir. But it is another of Thut’s wives, the commoner Aset, who bears him a son, while Hatshepsut develops a searing attraction for his brilliant adviser Senenmut. And when Thut suddenly dies, Hatshepsut becomes de facto ruler, as regent to her two-year-old nephew.

Once, Hatshepsut anticipated being free to live and love as she chose. Now she must put Egypt first. Ever daring, she will lead a vast army and build great temples, but always she will be torn between the demands of leadership and the desires of her heart. And even as she makes her boldest move of all, her enemies will plot her downfall….

Once again, Stephanie Thornton brings to life a remarkable woman from the distant past whose willingness to defy tradition changed the course of history.

Praise for Daughter of the Gods~

“Daughter of the Gods is a wonderfully intimate and dramatic evocation of Ancient Egypt, where one headstrong young woman dares to become pharaoh. Stephanie Thornton vividly portrays the heat and the danger, the passion and the heartbreak of Hatshepsut’s struggle, as she defies even the gods to ensure success on the throne of Egypt. A touching love story combines with a thrilling tale of death, courage and political intrigue to produce a superbly researched and powerfully written novel. This is the kind of book that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. A remarkable story, remarkably told.” -Kate Furnivall, author of Shadows on the Nile

“Stephanie Thornton’s heroines are bold, brave, and powerful–they make me want to stand up and cheer!” -Kate Quinn, author of Lady of the Eternal City

“Daughter of the Gods is a full-out, total immersion experience of ancient Egypt. From her moving love affair with a commoner to her fierce and unwavering commitment to Egypt as a female Pharaoh, Hatshepsut crackles with fascinating complexity. Her ka must be grinning with pleasure at this richly textured account of her life, one that is worthy of the great queen herself. “ -Vicky Alvear Shecter, author of Cleopatra’s Moon

“An epic saga that brings ancient Egypt to life with vivid imagery and lovely prose. Stephanie Thornton is a rising star!” -Stephanie Dray, author of Lily of the Nile

Buy the Book~

Amazon US (Kindle)
Amazon US (Paperback)
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
Books-a-Million
IndieBound
Kobo Books

Author Stephanie Thornton, Biography~

Stephanie ThorntonStephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve.

She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.

The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora is available from NAL/Penguin and Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt hit the shelves May 6, 2014.

The Tiger Queens: A Novel of Genghis Khan will publish in Fall 2014.

For more information, please visit Stephanie Thornton’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

**********************************************************

Tour Schedule with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours:

http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/daughterofthegodstour

Tour Hashtags: #DaughteroftheGodsTour #StephanieThornton #Hatshepsut #VirtualBookTour

Daughter of the Gods_Tour Banner _FINAL

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Celebrating Women Series: Stephanie Thornton on Hatshepsut, Pharaoh of Egypt

Welcome to the first article in the “Celebrating Women” for Women’s History Month! It’s my first article series to celebrate women in history or women making history! Thank you to Stephanie Thornton for starting everything off with a post on Hatshepsut. If you’d like to continue on with the tour, which runs March 19-31, 2014, follow along each day on the main blog or head to this blog page, Women in History, which will be updated daily with the scheduled link.

Hatshepsut’s Reign of Egypt and Her Grand Success
by Stephanie Thornton, historical author

The statue of Hatshepsut is in the Met in New York/Photo Wikipedia

The statue of Hatshepsut is in the Met in New York/Photo Wikipedia

It’s Women’s History Month, and there’s no better time for me to gush about my all-time favorite woman in history.  I’ve been obsessed with Hatshepsut since I wrote a report on her in 7th grade (Cleopatra was taken) and realized that the world knew relatively little about this enigmatic woman who became one of ancient Egypt’s most successful pharaohs.

Hatshepsut was the daughter of Pharaoh Tutmose I and Queen Ahmose. (BTW- There are multiple spellings of some of these names and for clarity’s sake, I’m going to use the ones I used in my upcoming novel, Daughter of the Gods.) Her father had several other children, but all of them predeceased him, save Hatshepsut and her half-brother, Thutmosis. That’s one of the hazards of living back then- life expectancies hovered somewhere near the 30 year mark.

Thutmosis was the son of the Pharaoh and a lesser wife named Mutnofret. When Tutmose died, Thutmosis became pharaoh. His reign was short, dated anywhere from two to twelve years, but with most historians leaning toward the former. Regardless, the man’s only major accomplishment while on the throne was fathering a son with a dancing girl named Aset and Hatshepsut’s daughter, Neferure.

Then he dies.

Such a terrible shame, but not for Hatshepsut! Thutmosis kicking the bucket allows Hatshepsut to become regent to her toddler stepson. (And yes, little Tutmose would also be her nephew since he’s her brother’s kid.)

Anyway…

Hatshepsut sits by dutifully for seven years, ruling for Tutmose like a good little regent. But then, for whatever reason (and we don’t really know what this reason is) she declares herself Pharaoh.

Only two other women before Hatshepsut were Pharaoh and both were the end of their family lines, the last link in a family to toss on the throne. And both women brought about the end of their family dynasties. (Oops.)

But Hatshepsut’s reign was a grand success. She went on to built the architectural marvel of Deir-el-Bahri (there I am in front of it!), organize an expedition to reopen trade to the mythical land of Punt, and keep the peace in her country for several decades.

Picture 078

Stephanie in front of Deir-el-Bahri

Hatshepsut disappears from the historical record around 1482BCE and then Tutmose gets to take his place on the throne. Late in his reign all references to Hatshepsut as Pharaoh and all her monuments and statues are destroyed. Historians once believed this was an act of revenge against his usurper stepmother, but now it’s believed it was merely to secure later successions and erase the aberration of a female ruler from Egypt’s history.

Hatshepsut may not be as famous as Cleopatra VII (who lost the entire country to Rome, by the way), but of all the women pharaohs, Hatshepsut was by far the most successful. In fact, even compared to the entire list of Egypt’s rulers, Hatshepsut would certainly rank in the top five. I’m biased, but I’d say she only comes behind Ramesses II, although he lived so long (ninety-some-odd-years-old) that his death sunk the country into a slump from which it would never recover.

So there’s no doubt about it: Hatshepsut is a rock star!

About Stephanie Thornton (in her words)~

ThorntonPhotoI’m a writer and high school history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since I was twelve. I’d stalk Theodora and Hatshepsut if I could, but they’re kind of dead. So I travel to ancient sites they’ve been to and write books about them instead.

My debut novel, THE SECRET HISTORY: A Novel of Empress Theodora, will be published by NAL/Penguin in July 2013, and DAUGHTER OF THE GODS, a story of Pharaoh Hatshepsut, will hit the shelves May 2014, and TIGER QUEENS, a story of the women of Ghenghis Khan, will be coming Fall of 2014.

I live with my husband and daughter in Alaska, where I’m at work on my next novel.

Web/blog: http://stephanie-thornton.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephMThornton

Coming Soon, May 2014……..DAUGHTER OF THE GODS, Synopsis~

Daughter of the GodsEgypt, 1400s BC. The pharaoh’s pampered second daughter, lively, intelligent Hatshepsut, delights in racing her chariot through the marketplace and testing her archery skills in the Nile’s marshlands. But the death of her elder sister, Neferubity, in a gruesome accident arising from Hatshepsut’s games forces her to confront her guilt…and sets her on a profoundly changed course.

Hatshepsut enters a loveless marriage with her half brother, Thut, to secure his claim to the Horus Throne and produce a male heir. But it is another of Thut’s wives, the commoner Aset, who bears him a son, while Hatshepsut develops a searing attraction for his brilliant adviser Senenmut. And when Thut suddenly dies, Hatshepsut becomes de facto ruler, as regent to her two-year-old nephew.

Once, Hatshepsut anticipated being free to live and love as she chose. Now she must put Egypt first. Ever daring, she will lead a vast army and build great temples, but always she will be torn between the demands of leadership and the desires of her heart. And even as she makes her boldest move of all, her enemies will plot her downfall….

Once again, Stephanie Thornton brings to life a remarkable woman from the distant past whose willingness to defy tradition changed the course of history.

You Can Click on the Button for Tour Schedule:

celebratingwomenbutton

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Secret History by Stephanie Thornton: Historical Novel of Empress Theodora Delivers My Emotions to Me on a Platter!

The Secret HistoryLush historical novels that blend great story telling imagination and superb characterization, while also being based on factual discoveries, are complete gems to my library. Stephanie Thornton’s The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora is not only one to house on your personal shelves permanently, but one read that will have you remembering the characters forever.

This novel, based firmly on historical research about an almost forgotten woman of strength and power, Theodora of sixth-century Constantinople, is rich in details with words that fill all the senses and prose that slides smoothly along as hour upon hour tick by. I refused to put down the book for several long bouts. I was completely immersed in the book as if I were actually Theodora herself. Thornton’s well-developed characters were all engaging and endearing, and some loathed, but all superbly structured.

A woman of low-birth who had to act upon the stage in order to be paid for tricks, Theodora was well-read and intelligent (and could even write) unlike most other women at that time who could not afford private tutors. The laws were not easy for those who had no money so that advancement was unlikely and for women without a husband life was extremely hard. The only way to make money was to sell your body. Theodora must do this to survive, but after spending time in a church, she was able to become clean and rise the ranks through her cunning ability to forward-think, problem solve, and give an honest opinion even if it ended up being sometimes humorous. With her wit, she catches the eye and eternal love of Justinian, the nephew of the Emporer. Eventually, Justinian and Theodora are crowned together as Augusti and rule as Emporer and Empress for many years.

This novel is the story of Theodora’s very humble and scary beginnings, her rise to power, and her love story with Justinian. Theodora’s trials are many but her endurance strong. This novel evoked so many emotions in me as I read along the journey. I was horrified, saddened, and overcome with a desire to fix the eternal class struggle, as well as men’s views on women. I cheered, plotted, and felt happy. I was nervous, scared and many times I cried, but especially at the end. The ending of this book racked me with sobs.

I am in love with this book and with Theodora. Reminiscent of great writers like Tracey Higley (from the historical and writing style perspective only – The Secret History had mild sex and violence), Michelle Moran, Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, and Sophie Perinot, Thornton is bound to please with this well-executed tale that contains it all: drama, intrigue, love, loss, power, betrayal, miracles, and overcoming odds. Thornton gives us an exceptional glimpse into Theodora, a story that for some time had been hidden in the history books. Another strong and defining woman will not be forgotten in this amazing fictional biography. I won’t soon forget any of the characters in her novel, as I felt so connected. I was terribly sad to have this story end. I had also fallen in love with the amazing spirit of Theodora.

Thornton did a tremendous job showcasing Theodora as a woman as powerful as someone like Cleopatra, and that she should be added to the list of major women influencers in history.  She also did a superb job with the history of the Byzantine Empire, giving us a peek into how it was set to flourish had it not been for the Bubonic Plague almost eradicating the area.

This book is a MUST READ for lovers of historical fiction who like to read about various women in history who wielded great power. Once you get the novel, you won’t be able to put it down as it will usher you into another era and hold you captive in Theodora’s aura.

This one is definitely going on my Top Five historical books list for 2013! Grab this great summer release!

Come back on July 12 for an interview and giveaway with Stephanie Thornton!

The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora, Synopsis~

The Secret HistoryPublication Date: July 2, 2013

NAL Trade
Paperback; 448p
ISBN-10: 045141778XWhere Theodora went, trouble followed…In sixth century Constantinople, one woman, Theodora, defied every convention and all the odds, and rose from being a common theater tart to become empress of a great kingdom, the most powerful woman the Roman Empire would ever know. But the woman whose image was later immortalized in glittering mosaic was, in fact, a scrappy, clever, conniving, flesh-and-blood woman full of sensuality and spirit whose real story is as surprising as any ever told…When her father dies suddenly, Theodora and her sisters face starvation on the streets. Determined to survive, Theodora makes a living any way she can—first on her back with every man who will have her, then on the stage of the city’s infamous amphitheater in a scandalous dramatization of her own invention. When her daring performance grants her a back-door entry into the halls of power, she seizes the chance to win a wealthy protector—only to face heartbreak and betrayal.

Ever resilient, Theodora rises above such trials and by a twist of fate, meets her most passionate admirer yet: the Emperor’s nephew. She will thrive as his confidant and courtesan, but many challenges lie ahead. For one day, this man will hand her a crown. And all the empire will wonder—is she bold enough, shrewd enough, and strong enough to keep it?

Praise for The Secret History

“Stephanie Thornton’s Theodora is tough and intelligent, spitting defiance against the cruel world of the Byzantine Empire. Her rise from street urchin to emperor’s consort made me want to stand up and cheer. Her later years as empress are great fun to read, but it was her early struggle as actress and courtesan that really had me roaring: either with rage at the misfortunes heaped on this poor girl, or with delight as she once more picked herself up with a steely glint in her eye and kept on going.”—Kate Quinn, author of Empress of the Seven Hills

“Loss, ambition and lust keep this rich story moving at top speed. Stephanie Thornton writes a remarkable first novel that brings a little known woman to full, vibrant life…A sprawling and irresistible story.”—Jeane Westin, author of The Spymaster’s Daughter

“A fascinating and vivid account; in The Secret History, the life of Empress Theodora leaps from the page, as colorful and complex as the woman herself.”—Michelle Diener, author of The Emperor’s Conspiracy

Stephanie ThorntonAuthor Stephanie Thornton, Biography~

Stephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.

For more information, please visit Stephanie Thornton’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thesecrethistoryvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #SecretHistoryTour

The Secret History Tour Banner FINAL

5 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews