Tag Archives: vicky Alvear Shecter

Review of A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii. Gripping, Emotional, Authentic!

It’s been a month and a week anniversary of the launch of A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii! In celebration of the release of the historical novel, I just completed a “Ring of Fire” series for the last six weeks where I tossed the fire torch to each of the authors every Wednesday or Thursday in order for them to answer a few quick questions about the book. All of the authors were given the same two questions! You can see a link to that six-week series of micro-interview below.

What this seventh week brings us is my review! But first, some tiny bits of background…

pre-order cover ElizaKnight_ADayofFire_HR

In case you were hiding under an umbrella tree and missed the hell fire and brimstone, leaving you to not have read the past posts in the series, this book was written by six top historical novelists who joined forces to bring readers the stories of Pompeii’s residents—from patricians to prostitutes—as their world ended. It’s a combined novel by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter, with an introduction by Michelle Moran, in which each takes on a character and intertwines them into the story.

Review~

Originally upon hearing about the novel, I was thrilled because it sounded like such a unique idea surrounding a topic that I’ve always been extra curious about: Pompeii. Throughout historical lessons, we learn of how they died, population numbers, and hypotheses (and in recent years the sad decay of the ruins). We’ve even learned a little of who they were based on graffiti, art, agriculture, and DNA testing (super amazing, right?).  The idea of the authors to write six different stories, with each author focused on a different type of person that might have truly existed in Pompeii (in fact, some of them did and then they fictionalized their story based on research and educated guess) was really intriguing.

Though I figured it would be well-written, what I hadn’t realized was how mesmerized the stories would leave me. I had started to read and didn’t have a choice but to put to the side for a little while, so when I picked it back up and started over, I read straight through in one night and I was left wanting more. Each story played into or on another story, characters over-lapped, and plots intertwined in such a way that even the characters didn’t know it was happening. It made me so happy I’d probably walk on coals for it! Ok, maybe not, but I would trade my chocolate bar to have time to read it over again. The layers within the stories and the plots kept my mind at work, immersed in the stories completely, while taking me on the highs and lows of this emotional roller coaster.

When at first I read the stories by Vicky and Sophie, I thought they were just going to be stories about individuals and how their life ended once Vesuvius erupted. I didn’t quite put the pieces together yet, I just enjoyed the stories. Vicky’s story caught me off-guard by her twist and I was surprised by the ending and who one of her characters turned out to be. Her characters of Prima and Gaius Plinius were so dimensional; they set-up very well the rest of the stories in the book in a way that carried all the way through to the end. She even introduces the nobleman Pansa, who keeps a thread, or a pulse, on the rest of the characters throughout the book. But I can’t give spoilers! It really gave us a glimpse into the society and culture within Pompeii and how they interacted together.

Sophie’s was a wonderful thought-provoking piece on marriage, love, lust, defying labels, father/daughter relationships, and the independent female. I did like Aemilia, but I admit, I felt more a connection to Sabinus in the story. I also felt like shouting, “why is no one paying attention to what this expert is saying about the tremors!” I like how Sophie’s story set-up for us some of the pre-currents of rumbling, which created suspense. We sense that just as their lifestyle was a dichotomy, so was their attention to the disaster. However, I truly I fell in love with Diana of the Cornelii in this story!! I loved her interaction with Aemilia, the symbolism she inserted, and the lovely details. I found I was hoping Diana would re-appear later in the story.

In Ben’s story we meet quite a different set of men living in the city of vacation. We meet retired military man Rufus and are reminded of the Roman gladiators. He gives a great explanation of how they were bought, used, and kept. He brought to us, in the grand style that Ben usually does, some of the element of their military and their entertainment (as awful as it was) but with a more behind-the-scenes look at the arena. He shows us how vulgar the practice was and made us feel sorry for the gladiators, such as Pugnax. It slipped us away for a moment into another realm of their society and reminded us further that many Romans vacationed in Pompeii, enjoying the sea, brothels, and this amphitheater form of entertainment. Later, when this element of the story reappears, he had already created depth of sadness for them so that we become mournful in a way that might not have been triggered otherwise.

As I started to read the latter stories, I saw how the characters in these first sections were brought back into the plots making them part of an overlying arc of characters. I was thrilled to see Diana return in full force in Kate’s story and I loved her even further for her courage, wit, and stubbornness. How interesting to find out that Diana and Marcus Norbanus are characters from Kate’s novel Mistress of Rome. I had meant to read that anyway, but now I’m sold. Kate’s story in A Day of Fire was so very hilarious that it gave a good break from what we know as a very sad situation. It really lifted the book before the climax (which Kate would certainly chuckle and say I made a play on words about Pompeii society), but it’s true. My favorite part was the page, when Diana was medically helping him with his hurt knee, and what she proposed he bite down on!! She gives us a captivating back story for each of these characters, and is one of the best stories in the book. The dialogue between the couple was priceless. Sometimes we exasperate those we like the most right? What do they say about those couples who bicker are the most likely to stay together? She also  shows us the side of Pompeii culture with the brothel/whorehouse (an unlikely place they ended up), the sexual graffiti on the walls, and then all the funny, but authentic, phallus symbols found on statues, frescoes, adornments, accessories, etc. At that point, I also eventually become sad again realizing how people were used for sex and what variation of deviations really went on.

Eliza’s story takes us back to a well-to-do family, with some characters re-appearing of course, such as Julilla. Eliza takes a credible view using a family, and one that actually existed in Pompeii, and re-creates what their final moments were like. It was an extraordinary story based on facts, giving us ideas as to what is still not known about that family. She uses her motherly instincts and lets us into the feelings of a mother about to give birth, of a sister who cares for her brother, as a new wife. As a mother  myself, it was extremely painful to read and this made it the most emotional and gripping story of the novel. I had trouble wiping away all the tears and I think that it will always haunt me–the knowing that they were real and what happened to them. I’ve read other things by Eliza, but this has to be the best thing I’ve read by her yet.

And then Stephanie finishes it up by bringing another favorite character of mine back, Sabinus, as well as Capella. Their relationship was interesting. Not really love, or forbidden love, or family, but a dedication of sorts. And I was so looking forward, with all the little foreshadowing previously of Isis being a religion practiced by some in Pompeii, to Stephanie bringing that into the story. Learning of Capella’s ancestry, seeing her relationship with her sister (which how this ends us will surprise you, so I don’t want to spoil), and then her use of the Isis Temple for the spiritual end of the story was nothing short of amazing. I have never forgot Stephanie’s books on Cleopatra Selene, the third showing us a little of how Isis was still practiced in Rome. She truly took me back there again, so much so that I could “feel” Capella’s spiritual energy. Her amazing spirit and peaceful demeanor. Her destiny. Stephanie told such a redemptive tale, and one of embracing life after death, that she seemed to give all the people of Pompeii a lasting legacy of worth. I truly am always absorbed in Stephanie’s writing, and this time didn’t have me faltering from that. She was the perfect author–with the perfect story–to finish out the novel.

Overall, I loved not only how they weaved the character’s lives together, but also I enjoyed all the many details and descriptions, such as the wine production and the drinking of the wine (and that it was more available than even water once the disaster started). I liked the symbolism of the grapes sustaining life. I enjoyed the depictions of the art and architecture, the portrayals of life among the classes and how they interacted with slaves (and how various people became slaves), and the nods to the infrastructure and sustainability of the society. It was intricately well-researched and explained in a way that was accurate and authentic, as well as a joy to read. I could go on and on about the nuances and the characters, but really I can’t do justice to explain them. It’s just something special to read it for yourself.

I highly recommend this book not just to read, but as a keepsake; you’ll want to read it over and over again, burning each time for it when it has to sit on your shelf. It’s pages are alive with people of the past who don’t want to be forgotten. This book would be a miraculous gift for anyone who enjoys ancient history. A truly original tale and perfectly plotted feat of magnificent stature, even the Romans would applaud! Definitely one of my best historical reads of 2014!

Series of Micro-interviews with Author Bios:

Vicky

Sophie

Ben

Kate

Eliza

Stephanie

A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii released on November 4, 2014. Order now!

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NI5CBXI</

pre-order cover ElizaKnight_ADayofFire_HR

A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii, Information~

by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter,
with an introduction by Michelle Moran

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: November 4, 2014

Six top historical novelists join forces to bring readers the stories of Pompeii’s residents—from patricians to prostitutes—as their world ended. You will meet:

Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain’s wrath . . .these are their stories:

A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii’s flourishing streets.

An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.

An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished.

A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue.

A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.

A priestess and a whore seek redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.

Six top historical authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others’ path during Pompeii’s fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?

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E. Knight Catches the Torch in A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii Series

In celebration of the release of the historical novel A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii, I’ve been doing a “Ring of Fire” series where I toss the fire torch to each of the authors every Wednesday or so for SIX WEEKS in order for them to answer a few quick questions about the book. All of the authors were given the same two questions!

Remember this Doctor Who episode in the fires of Pompeii?

Hey! Remember this Doctor Who episode in the fires of Pompeii?

Today, the E. Knight is in the hot seat, but there are links to the four past micro-interviews too. Follow along and see what each has to say about their experience! I’m going in order based on where their part of the story falls within the book. My review will be posted during the six weeks as well, mostly likely next week. I’m planning some additional reading over the holiday weekend.

In case you haven’t heard, or read my past posts, this book was written by six top historical novelists who joined forces to bring readers the stories of Pompeii’s residents—from patricians to prostitutes—as their world ended. It’s a combined novel by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter, with an introduction by Michelle Moran, in which each takes on a character and intertwines them into the story.

Take it away, E. Knight…..

Q1 : What did your character bring to the volcano gods for the book (i.e. what voice did they bring to the volume)?

A: Julilla brought the voice of a young, happily married woman well into the final stages of her pregnancy who is forced to make one of the most difficult and painful choices of her life. Having lost her first baby, she is extremely protective of the one in her womb. But with the impending destruction of Pompeii, and her family trapped in their home, she is now not so sure she wants to deliver her child into the world—for its first precious breath to be that of ash. Julilla’s story, THE MOTHER, is an emotional journey in which we see her turn from compliant Roman wife to a mother willing to do anything to protect her child from pain.

Q2: What is one of your favorite moments from the collaboration?

A: I myself traveled along an emotional journey right with Julilla. I cried, I mourned, I was lost. Having the group to take that journey with me was a blessing. So that, in itself, is one of the best parts of working on a collaboration. But, one of my favorite moments out of all was the Roman naming process—and the joy my writing pals had teasing me about it. Coming from medieval/Elizabethan fiction, it was quite a bit different! All children are named for their pater familias. I had the hardest time comprehending that EVERY ONE of Julius Polybius’ children would be a Julius (or Julia for girls). But, I felt like Julilla was different, and so I didn’t want her to be Julia. She was, is and always will be a Julilla to me.

Previously posted in the series:

Vicky

Sophie

Ben

Kate

E. Knight, Biograpy~

Eliza KnightEliza Knight is the award-winning, multi-published, Amazon best-selling author of sizzling historical romance and time travel erotic romance. She runs the award-winning blog, History Undressed.

When not reading, writing and researching, she likes to cuddle up in front of a warm fire with her own knight in shining armor. Visit Eliza at http://www.elizaknight.com or http://www.historyundressed.com

A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii released on November 4, 2014. Order now!

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NI5CBXI</

pre-order cover ElizaKnight_ADayofFire_HR

A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii, Information~

by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter,
with an introduction by Michelle Moran

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: November 4, 2014

Six top historical novelists join forces to bring readers the stories of Pompeii’s residents—from patricians to prostitutes—as their world ended. You will meet:

Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain’s wrath . . .these are their stories:

A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii’s flourishing streets.

An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.

An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished.

A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue.

A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.

A priestess and a whore seek redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.

Six top historical authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others’ path during Pompeii’s fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?

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Filed under Feature Articles, Q and A with Authors

A Day of Fire: Pompeii Series: Kate Quinn Next Under Fire

In celebration of the release of the historical novel A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii, and all the time this writing clan of six authors put into it, I’ve been doing a “Ring of Fire” series where I toss the fire torch to each of the authors every Wednesday or so for SIX WEEKS in order for them to answer a few quick questions about the book. All of the authors were given the same two questions! I thought it would be fun to see each of their respective answers. Now, I wish I would have put them in the hot seat a little longer and asked them some additional questions.

fire heart

Day of Fire: A Novel of Pomeii is on Fire

Today, the amazing Kate Quinn is featured (a fellow Boston Red Sox fan!), but there are links to the three past micro-interviews too. Follow along and see what each has to say about their experience! I’m going in order based on where their part of the story falls within the book. My review will be posted during the six weeks as well, mostly likely within the next two weeks.

In case you haven’t heard, or read my past posts, this book was written by six top historical novelists who joined forces to bring readers the stories of Pompeii’s residents—from patricians to prostitutes—as their world ended. It’s a combined novel by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter, with an introduction by Michelle Moran, in which each takes on a character and intertwines them into the story.

Ready for the torch pass?……take it away Kate!

 Q1 : What did your character bring to the volcano gods for the book (i.e. what voice did they bring to the volume)?

Kate’s Answer: Pompeii is a story all about escape – as soon as Vesuvius goes up, everyone is fighting to leave. I had a chance with my narrator to flip that on its head: he is a senator battling serious depression (not that he would have a name for it at the time), and unlike the fleeing masses, he has no intention of trying to escape the disaster. He welcomes this chance for an honorable death, but a girl with a foul mouth and a fast horse is trying to drag him to safety whether he wants to go or not. I also had the chance to bring humor to this book (I’m not sure I know how to write a story without it!) Strange to say you can find humor in a tragedy like Pompeii, but my diacritically-opposed characters played off each other like a buddy cop movie, and hopefully provide some much-needed laughs before the big tragic finish!

 Q2: What is one of your favorite moments from the collaboration?

Kate’s Answer: Collaborative writing! For the scenes where the protagonist from one story made a cameo in another, we found it was most effective to crank up an interactive Google document, and for the two authors to write the scene together, each writing the dialogue of their own protagonist so that every character stayed true to their voice. It was like an improv acting exercise but with writing – huge fun.

We’ve already heard from Vicky, Sophie, Ben. Check out their answers by clicking on their name!

Kate Quinn, Biography~

kate quinnKate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written three novels set in ancient Rome: “Mistress of Rome,” “Daughters of Rome,” and “Empress of the Seven Hills,” all of which have been translated into multiple languages.

Kate made the jump from ancient Rome to Renaissance Italy for her fourth and fifth novels, “The Serpent and the Pearl” and “The Lion and the Rose,” detailing the early years of the Borgia clan. She also has succumbed to the blogging bug, and keeps a blog filled with trivia, pet peeves, and interesting facts about historical fiction. She and her husband now live in Maryland with a small black dog named Caesar, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.

A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii released on November 4, 2014. Order now!

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NI5CBXI</

pre-order cover ElizaKnight_ADayofFire_HR

A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii, Information~

by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter,
with an introduction by Michelle Moran

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: November 4, 2014

Six top historical novelists join forces to bring readers the stories of Pompeii’s residents—from patricians to prostitutes—as their world ended. You will meet:

Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain’s wrath . . .these are their stories:

A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii’s flourishing streets.

An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.

An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished.

A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue.

A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.

A priestess and a whore seek redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.

Six top historical authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others’ path during Pompeii’s fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?

Leave a comment

Filed under Feature Articles, Q and A with Authors

Talking with Six Historical Authors in New RING OF FIRE Blog Series About A Day of Fire: Pompeii

Today, I have a BLOG SERIES ANNOUNCEMENT, something fun I’m doing, so I hope you’ll follow along!! And I have the first segment of the series below, too (so stay tuned and keep reading). It all coincides with the *fiery* launch of A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii!

Back in September of this year, I noted in a book announcement the following:

“In historical book circles, we’ve been waiting impatiently for news of a certain book’s arrival from a group of tremendous historical fiction authors who’ve been working to release their newest endeavor called A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii! It’s a unique way to pen a book, so you don’t want to miss it! It’s on FIIIIIIIRE!!! (Yep, you can sing that in your best vocally loud and unharmonizing voice, I just did *wink*).”

Yes, six top historical novelists join forces to bring readers the stories of Pompeii’s residents—from patricians to prostitutes—as their world ended. It’s a combined novel by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter, with an introduction by Michelle Moran, in which each takes on a character and intertwines them into the story.

pre-order cover ElizaKnight_ADayofFire_HR

Well, that awaited day is here, or really near!! It’s coming out Tuesday, Nov. 4! (And it did come to pass for lucky me, as the book has been sitting lovingly beside me, trying to catch my long hair on fire, but alas, still lapping with love for its attention–yes, I’ve been reading!)

In celebration of the launch, the book, and all the time this clan put into it, I’ll be doing a SERIES. Yes, some sort of “Ring of Fire” series I suppose where I toss the fire torch to each of the authors every Wednesday or so for SIX WEEKS in order for them to answer a few quick questions about the book. All of the authors were given the same questions! Follow along and see what each says! We’ll be going in order based on where their part of the story falls within the book. My review will be posted during the six weeks as well.

So, first up, catch the torch, Vicky…..

First Author: Vicky Alvear Shecter

Vicky Alvear ShecterQ1 : What did your character bring to the volcano gods for the book (i.e. what voice did they bring to the volume)?

A: My character, seventeen year-old Caecilius, brings a certain innocence to the story, mostly by virtue of his age and inexperience. He is in love with the wrong person and we learn right along with him just how wrong she is for him.

Caecilius does not live in Pompeii but is inexorably drawn to it. For him, the girl and the city become intertwined—one great big, sexy mess of a place, ripe with opportunity and danger. The choices he makes about the city shape his entire destiny.

His story attracted me because it allowed me to answer a question that has always dogged me about a certain witness’s behavior in the face of the disaster. Ancient history buffs will know what I mean when they get to the end of the story!

Q2: What is one of your favorite moments from the collaboration?

A: Can’t answer, because it’s impossible. There are so many! From having online conversations (or, more accurately, “bitch sessions”) about the ridiculousness of Roman naming conventions to the gross detailing the ancient brothel stalls, you just couldn’t have made up some of the online conversations I either participated in or witnessed. These included such gems as: “Okay fine. How slowly should I kill him then?” Or “Would a rich girl really be so insulted by the prospect of back-door sex?” Or, my personal favorite, “Could a guy really continue thrusting after hearing a boom like that?”

Seriously, it was priceless. And utterly awesome.

Biography:

Vicky Alvear Shecter is an award-winning writer of young adult historical fiction set in the ancient world and mythology for younger readers. Her novels include, Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii and Cleopatra’s Moon, the latter of which Atlantic online included in a list of “YA Historical Fiction Adults Should Read.” She is a docent at the Carlos Museum of antiquities at Emory University. Her newest non-fiction for children, Hades Speaks, recently released!

Learn more about Vicky and read her blog!

A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii releases on November 4, 2014. Can’t wait? DON’T—make a date with destiny and don’t go down with the smoke. Make sure you receive your copy immediately on Nov. 4 by pre-ordering A Day of Fire in the format of your choice:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NI5CBXI</

pre-order cover ElizaKnight_ADayofFire_HRA Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii, Information~

by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter,
with an introduction by Michelle Moran

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: November 4, 2014

Six top historical novelists join forces to bring readers the stories of Pompeii’s residents—from patricians to prostitutes—as their world ended. You will meet:

Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain’s wrath . . .these are their stories:

A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii’s flourishing streets.

An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.

An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished.

A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue.

A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.

A priestess and a whore seek redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.

Six top historical authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others’ path during Pompeii’s fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?

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See the COVER for A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii, by SIX AMAZING TOP Historical Authors…NOW!!

In historical book circles, we’ve been waiting impatiently for news of a certain book’s arrival from a group of tremendous historical fiction authors who’ve been working to release their newest endeavor called A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii! It’s a unique way to pen a book, so you don’t want to miss it! It’s on FIIIIIIIRE!!! (Yep, you can sing that in your best vocally loud and unharmonizing voice, I just did *wink*)

Today, I am excited to reveal the cover for A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii! This book is not just FOR your TBR pile, but for the TOP of your TBR pile, and should be moved quickly to your READ pile!  Six amazing authors create one volume, which creates the gripping story of Pompeii’s final days.

And now you can PRE-ORDER your copy, so come November 4, you won’t have to wait! And now, you don’t have to wait any longer for this amazing cover either, catch a glimpse NOW!!! Leave your impressions in the comments below!!

DRUM ROLL with FLAMING DRUMSTICKS and cue HOT SHIRTLESS Italian male dancers…..or maybe Ben Kane will rush in with full Roman garb and chariot…….

pre-order cover ElizaKnight_ADayofFire_HR

A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii, Information~

by six historical authors:

Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter, with an introduction by Michelle Moran

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: November 4, 2014

Six top historical novelists join forces to bring readers the stories of Pompeii’s residents—from patricians to prostitutes—as their world ended. You will meet:

Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain’s wrath . . .these are their stories:

A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii’s flourishing streets.

An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.

An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished.

A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue.

A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.

A priestess and a whore seek redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.

Six top historical authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others’ path during Pompeii’s fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?

pre-order cover ElizaKnight_ADayofFire_HR

A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii releases on November 4, 2014. Can’t wait? DON’T—make a date with destiny and don’t go down with the smoke. Make sure you receive your copy immediately on Nov. 4 by pre-ordering A Day of Fire in the format of your choice:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NI5CBXI</

ABOUT THE AUTHORS (I mean you’ll faint after reading this!)~

STEPHANIE DRAY is a multi-published, award-winning author of historical women’s fiction and fantasy set in the ancient world. Her critically acclaimed historical Nile series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into more than six different languages, was nominated for a RITA Award and won the Golden Leaf. Her focus on Ptolemaic Egypt and Augustan Age Rome has given her a unique perspective on the consequences of Egypt’s ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Learn more at http://www.stephaniedray.com

BEN KANE worked as a veterinarian for sixteen years, but his love of ancient history and historical fiction drew him to write fast-paced novels about Roman soldiers, generals and gladiators. Irish by nationality but UK-based, he is the author of seven books, the last five of which have been Sunday Times top ten bestsellers.Ben’s books have been translated into ten languages. In 2013, Ben walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall with two other authors, for charity; he did so in full Roman military kit, including hobnailed boots. He repeated the madness in 2014, over 130 miles in Italy. Over $50,000 has been raised with these two efforts. Learn more at http://www.benkane.net/

E. KNIGHT is an award-winning, indie national best-selling author historical fiction. Under the name, Eliza Knight she writes historical romance and time-travel. Her debut historical fiction novel, MY LADY VIPER, has received critical acclaim and was nominated for the Historical Novel Society 2015 Annual Indie Award. She regularly presents on writing panels and was named Romance Writer’s of America’s 2013 PRO Mentor of the Year. Eliza lives in Maryland atop a small mountain with a knight, three princesses and a very naughty puppy. For more information, visit Eliza at http://www.elizaknight.com.

SOPHIE PERINOT is the author of the acclaimed debut, The Sister Queens, which weaves the story of medieval sisters Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence who became queens of France and England respectively. Perinot has both a BA in History and a law degree. A long-time member of the Historical Novel Society, she has attended all of the group’s North American Conferences, serving as a panelist at the most recent. When she is not visiting corners of the past, Sophie lives in Great Falls, VA. Learn more at: http://www.SophiePerinot.com

KATE QUINN is the national bestselling author of the Empress of Rome novels, which have been variously translated into thirteen different languages. She first got hooked on Roman history while watching “I, Claudius” at the age of seven, and wrote her first book during her freshman year in college, retreating from a Boston winter into ancient Rome. She and her husband now live in Maryland with an imperious black dog named Caesar. Learn more at http://www.katequinnauthor.com

VICKY ALVEAR SHECTER is the award-winning author of the young adult novel, Cleopatra’s Moon (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2011), based on the life of Cleopatra’s only daughter. She is also the author of two biographies for kids on Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. The LA Times called Cleopatra’s Moon–set in Rome and Egypt–“magical” and “impressive.” Publisher’s Weekly said it was “fascinating” and “highly memorable.” Her young adult novel of Pompeii, Curses and Smoke (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic), released in June 2014. She has two other upcoming books for younger readers, Anubis Speaks! and Hades Speaks! Vicky is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta. Learn more at http://www.vickyalvearshecter.com/main/

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Interview with the Amazing Historical YA Author Vicky Alvear Shecter on Pompeii, Writing, and Engaging Young Readers

Curses and Smoke Giveaway!!

Before we go any further, there is a giveaway attached to this interview with the wonderful Vicky Alvear Shecter! To enter to win one (1) paperback copy, open to US, UK, and Canadian residents. Click on the link HERE to go to the Rafflecopter to enter to win!

Now, enjoy the interview……..

Hi Vicky, so happy to talk to you today on Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I am fascinated by your writing, with a love of Egyptology, ancient civilizations, and two kids that are part-Egyptian, I love to get lost in their worlds. In fact as I write and work today, I’ve been watching the new Pompeii movie, and I just cried at the end. Did you get to see it yet?

Vicky:  Hi Erin, thank you for having me here. And yes, I got to see an early release of the Pompeii movie in theaters. Regarding the movie’s ending (spoiler alert!) historically there never has been a pair of entwined lovers found, so that was totally made up. In the real Pompeii, the body of one rich woman was found alongside the body of a gladiator in a barracks so everybody assumed that they were lovers. What they DON’T add is that inside that room, alongside the “couple,” were the bodies of more than a dozen others! So likely not a tryst but a hideout for a bunch of terrified people. Still, I think people are always looking for the romance in Pompeii. Understandably so given the tragic nature of its demise!

Erin: I bet you have been excited for Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii to be introduced to readers! What interesting things have you been up to this spring, in preparation of the book release or otherwise?

Awesome cover!

Awesome cover!

Vicky: I’ve been very excited by the release! I’m also excited by all the speaking engagements I’ve got coming up. I’m going to speaking at the American Classical Association conference in June and the Junior Classical League’s national convention in July. Plus, I have a number of book festivals set up for the fall so I hope to be introducing my book to new readers.

Erin: Wonderful! Suddenly, it’s hot in Ohio, I bet it’s even hotter where you are. Let’s skip the hot tea today, unless you really want it, and go for a chilling cocktail….a peach Bellini maybe, or if you don’t drink, a tea Bellini? I thought something peach would be fitting based on where you are from, plus it matches your beautiful book cover! If you have a craving for something other than those two selections though, please say the word!

Vicky: OMG, a peach Bellini cocktail sounds amazing! Yes, please! *tries not to lunge through screen and grab drink*

Erin: A girl after my own heart! I’ll pour and we’ll get started with questions! I know inquiring readers can’t wait to know!

Q: Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii sounds exciting, and though a Young Adult novel, can be read by anyone. The ancient civilizations are so captivating. What mesmerizes you most about the story of Pompeii?

A: I think that what mesmerizes me about Pompeii is the same thing that mesmerizes me about the ancient world in general—the sense that of shared humanity stepped in the wonder of “otherness.” But especially with Pompeii, you can never escape that sense of complete and utter tragedy. Children, pets—everyone who stayed in or near the city died a horrible, tragic death. Naturally, it pulls at our hearts.

pompeii

Modern day Pompeii via Wikipedia

Q: Your novel is a romance, seeped with intrigue, danger, and drama, yet rated for teen readers. How much is historical fact versus imaginative plot?

A: Virtually the entire book is imaginative, though the characters are based on the types of people that lived and worked in Pompeii. One of the characters, though—the best friend of Lucia, the female protagonist—is based on the finding of the bones of a young, wealthy very pregnant female surrounded by her family. She and her family likely did not try to escape because of her condition. I was also moved by the plaster cast of dog that died still tied up in his yard. So, of course, I put a dog in the story and made sure to have my characters release him so that he could run to safety. That’s the fun of fiction—I could rewrite history and save the dog!

Q: How did you conduct your research? Was there enough readily available or did you uncover any tidbits you included?

A: There are many, many resources available to study Pompeii—books written by archaeologists, historians and scholars. I consumed a lot of them, as you can imagine. One tidbit that I discovered in my research was the existence of a strange and ancient god—Mephistis—the Samnite goddess of poisonous vapors. Her crumbling altar was found in the Temple of Venus complex, as I have it in the story. Mephistis predated the Roman takeover of Pompeii so OF COURSE I had to work her into the story. To me, it was just too rich to have this goddess who punished people by gassing them to death when it was really the superheated gasses of the pyroclastic flow that killed every living being in Pompeii. It was one of those cool little details that are so cool to discover.

Q: I assume you write what you do so that the young generation interested in history will have some answers. What is something you’d like readers to take away knowing about Pompeii?

A: Good question! I think what I’d like for them to take away is an understanding of the city’s existence prior to the dominance of Rome, which is why I made Tag a descendant from the overthrown Etruscan class that once ruled in Pompeii.

Erin: I liked that part of it, actually! Really gave deeper insight and led to the societal issues you portrayed in your book as well.

Q: In your book, who is your personal favorite character and why? Who was the most challenging to construct?

A: Another tough one! I’d have to say Tag—the male protagonist—is my favorite character because I was able to place him as both observer and participant in a gladiatorial school. Plus, he’s a hot young Etruscan in love—what’s not to love?! 😉

Q: How does writing YA historical romance differ from writing adult versions? Is it harder to write young love or less challenging than writing of adult love? What do you feel you accomplished in your book in terms of romance?

A: Since I’ve not really written adult romance, I’m not sure I can say how it differs, outside the greater freedom of going into details about sex. In terms of romance, I hope that I accomplished capturing that thrilling, scary intensity that comes with first love—especially forbidden love.

Q: You’ve written numerous other novels as well, including the YA novel Cleopatra’s Moon, and some fabulous non-fiction titles that are great for middle readers. Can you talk a little about those? What inspired you to write them?

cleo moon

A: I’ve always been a fan of the ancient history world—it’s people and mythologies. I wrote Cleopatra’s Moon, because I was struck by a specific question when I learned about Selene—which was, “My god, what must it have been like to have Cleopatra as yoru MOTHER?” The story grew from there. I have an entirely different “voice” for my mythology books, which are considered nonfiction. I have the gods themselves describe their worlds with a great deal of humor and fun. Each genre captures the different types of fascination I have for ancient history—the young adult novels capture the sweeping romance and intrigue of the world, while the younger nonfiction captures the fascination and joy I experience when I learn something new.

Q: I saw that there are a number of teacher guides on your website that accompany your books! As a mom who loves to do things with my children, I think these are even great for parents for over the summer. Will there be one for Pompeii?

A: I certainly hope so! The publisher usually produces those. If Scholastic decides not to create one for the Pompeii book, then I will likely create one on my own.

Q: Have you thought of writing a children’s non-fiction for Pompeii? I noticed you have one coming out about THOR in 2105. My 10 year old daughter will be thrilled; she has a slight obsession with him for some reason! What other titles have you thought about?

A: Oh wow, I hadn’t thought about writing a nonfiction book on Pompeii for younger readers! It’s something to consider though, surprisingly, there are a fair amount of books on it for younger readers. I don’t have another title in the works after Thor Speaks!, which comes out next fall (2015). However, I think I’d like to focus on a goddess this time. We’ll see what my editor thinks!

Q: What do you think is so thrilling about ancient civilizations, both to children as well as adults? How about you, what do you find intriguing?

A: I think it’s that strange combination of sameness and otherness that I find so fascinating. I love seeing our humanity reflected in the art and writing of ancient peoples and am, at the same time, fascinated by just how differently they saw the world! Their view of the world made sense to them but it seems crazy to us. Still, if we dig under the surface, we find that they wanted the same things—love, family, community and a spiritual connection.

I am a docent at the Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University and some of my favorite pieces are those where people’s humanity shows through. For example, we have a cuneiform tablet with some guy’s thumbprint on the corner, which moves me tremendously. Why? Because it’s like getting a tiny glimpse into his past. Most of the tablets are clean—why was this guy holding the tablet before it was dry? Did someone pull it out his grasp, which caused the imprint? It’s the story of a living, breathing human being that intrigues me. Similarly, I love a shard of plaster in our Egyptian gallery where an artist was practicing his sketches. What we often see is so “perfected,” we forget that there was likely some young kid grabbing shards wherever he could to practice his drawings so that he might one day be picked to depict the pharaoh…

Q: I’m also a writer and journalist, spending hours of time copy writing and so forth over the years. It IS fun, but nothing like getting into fiction writing or penning non-fiction history books for kids. What was it like to start publishing your fiction writing? How do you make time for it? What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

A: I got my nonfiction published years before my fiction sold. It was quite an adjustment to go from checking every fact to writing stories that “could’ve” been true, as we do in historical fiction. Luckily, my kids are older so I have more time. When they were younger, I had to be willing to write in short bursts. In terms of advice, I’d say, write what you are passionate about. My first book was a fun kid’s biography of Alexander the Great, whom I found endlessly fascinating. When I first told one person, he said, “Why would you write about him?” Clearly he was not a historical fan. At first, I shrunk back, thinking, “Right. No one would want to read about him.” But then I realized that I WAS passionate about Alexander and ancient history—and that was all that mattered. So by learning not to judge what I was passionate about, I gave myself permission to throw myself wholeheartedly into it!

Q: a) I noticed that they teach so little any more in school to my children regarding history (at least in our school system, I won’t speak for all). I find that sad, because there is so much excitement to be had in learning it! Do you think there is a market for non-fiction children’s books as what you are publishing? Is writing, reading, and learning ancient cultures, mythology, etc. really not dead?

A: I think there will always be kids who want to know more about the ancient world and ancient mythologies, even if they’re not taught in the classroom (which is a crying shame, if you ask me!). Thankfully, authors such as Rick Riordan (the Percy Jackson series) and even JK Rowling (with all the classical references in the Harry Potter books) have made it cool to care about the classical world again.

 b) I’d love for more parents to buy and take the time to teach their kids the extras that the schools might not have time for any longer. What can be done to entice parents into taking on some of this? My kids are readers, but history reading is great for reluctant readers as well, don’t you think?

A: Oh, absolutely! I think when kids get that history is often wayyyyyy crazier and funnier than any made-up story, they’ll find the joy in it. That’s why, especially for my nonfiction books, I tend to focus on the funny and outrageous at first, because it draws younger readers in.

It’s the parent’s job to bring as much fascinating material to their children as possible. You never know what’s going to “snag” ‘em, so keep at it!

Q: What books do you like reading for your own pleasure? Who are some of your favorite authors?

A: I read a lot of everything—YA, nonfiction, historical fiction and contemporary fiction. My favorite authors include JK Rowling, Zora Neal Hurston, Marian Zimmer Bradley, Suzanne Collins, Steven Saylor, Ray Bradburry and countless others!

Q: What are your own favorite books of all time? What are your favorite books in the genre you write that you recommend to others?

A: My two favorite books of all time are Zora Neal Hurstong, Their Eyes were Watching God, and Bradley’s Mists of Avalon. Growing up, I was a huge fan of Mary Renault. In terms of modern writers, I love Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, and Stephanie Thornton and their HF novels set in the ancient world.

Erin: Me too, if you haven’t tried Tracey Higley, her Seven Wonders of the Ancient World fiction series is good also. It’s Christian fiction, the history is great.

Q: And for fun, what is your favorite dessert for writing marathons or getting through each week? Or maybe another fave food or snack?

A: Ice cream! Any flavor—as along as it’s chocolate.

Erin: Stephanie Thornton and you should never go to an ice cream store……they would run out of stock. *wink*

Q: Where can readers and writers connect with you?

A: They can find me at www.vickyalvearshecter.com, which is my website. My blog can be accessed from the main menu of my home site.

Erin: It was a pleasure to have you here today, Vicky! I look forward to spending hours reading and discussing your books with my own young readers this summer. As well, I’ll be following your progress on anything new. Best wishes on the release of Curses and Smoke (and I’m sure my daughter will be keeping her eye out for THOR)! Come back soon!

Vicky: Thank you so much, Erin, for having me here on your blog! It’s been an honor. Plus, you are clearly a journalist because you asked so many thorough and nuanced questions! It was a pleasure to be here!

Erin: Thanks for noticing Vicky, it was a joy!

Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii, Synopsis~

Publication Date: May 27, 2014
Arthur A. Levine Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Genre: YA Historical

When your world blows apart, what will you hold onto?

TAG is a medical slave, doomed to spend his life healing his master’s injured gladiators. But his warrior’s heart yearns to fight in the gladiator ring himself and earn enough money to win his freedom.

LUCIA is the daughter of Tag’s owner, doomed by her father’s greed to marry a much older Roman man. But she loves studying the natural world around her home in Pompeii, and lately she’s been noticing some odd occurrences in the landscape: small lakes disappearing; a sulfurous smell in the air…

When the two childhood friends reconnect, each with their own longings, they fall passionately in love. But as they plot their escape from the city, a patrician fighter reveals his own plans for them — to Lucia’s father, who imprisons Tag as punishment. Then an earthquake shakes Pompeii, in the first sign of the chaos to come. Will they be able to find each other again before the volcano destroys their whole world?

Buy the Book~

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
Books-a-Million
Fishpond
Powell’s
Waterstones

Vicky Alvear Shecter, Biography~

Vicky Alvear ShecterVicky Alvear Shecter is the author of the young adult novel, CLEOPATRA’S MOON (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2011), based on the life of Cleopatra’s only daughter.

She is also the author of two award-winning biographies for kids on Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. She is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta.

Author Links~

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/cursesandsmoketour
Tour Hashtag: #CursesandSmokeBlogTour

Curses and Smoke_Tour Banner_FINAL

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Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii Should Be on Every YA Reader’s Summer List

Awesome cover!

Awesome cover!

Vicky Alvear Shecter’s newest young adult (YA) novel, Curses and Smoke, is a story about young love set in the boiling point period of Pompeii. For teens who like to become immersed in the action and plot of dystopian best-sellers such as Hunger Games and Divergent, historical romantic thrillers like Vicky’s Curses and Smoke can also be absorbing just set in the ancient past! No future worlds are created…that’s right, we can learn from the past in just as enthralling fashion.  The added bonus is actually learning some history in the process, as though she uses her imagination for detailed characters, plot, and romance she bases the historical setting and story on historical information that is authentic and well-researched.

In Curses and Smoke, a healer, Tag, comes from Etruscan high society, yet was made a slave when the Romans took Pompeii.  He takes care of the gladiator’s wounds in the ring and wants to learn to fight himself in order to earn his freedom. Lucia, his childhood friend, comes from a good life (her father is the owner of the gladiator school) yet her father needs money for business and so she is betrothed to a much older, and ghastly, older man. As they begin to meet in secret, and Lucia studies the Earth’s tremors and instances (even though as a married woman she’ll be denied the opportunity to read and be educated), their love grows and simmers just as Mount Vesuvius starts to heat up.

Vicky starts her novel in slow cooking fashion to let us get to know and feel a connection with her main characters; they are well-developed and multi-dimensional.  Sometimes YA novels leave their characters fall flat or are one-layered as they are so young or there isn’t more detail provided. With Vicky’s novels, you are brought full characters, exciting details, and emotion surrounding the action, drama, and romance.

As the plot of the novel heats up, so does Mt. Vesuvius and that is when Vicky’s writing brings history to life! As a reader, I enjoyed being taken back in time and read the book right through fairly quickly. I know that either one of my oldest, a pre-teen and a teen would enjoy the content of this book, as well as recommending to their reader friends. The book isn’t simple in content, but yet for higher level young readers it’s pretty spot on in terms of ease of reading yet challenges them.

It’s also an interesting read for adult readers who enjoy historical fiction of the ancient world. I would put it with my collection of that time period myself after passing along to my young readers. If you are a historical reader who likes PG-13, then this also would be a good read for you on a free weekend evening.

I highly recommend this for young people who love to read, enjoy history, or who love to be whisked away into tales of the past. It makes it a perfect read for summer reading. I highly recommend this book to parents, teens, history or English teachers, and librarians! The ancient world is heating up, don’t miss the explosive ending of this book, as it is tear-evoking, emotional, thrilling, and really something to think about in terms of life–social prejudice, boundaries, independence, and desire…oh, and living like the world is ending!

Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii, Synopsis~

Publication Date: May 27, 2014
Arthur A. Levine Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Genre: YA Historical

When your world blows apart, what will you hold onto?

TAG is a medical slave, doomed to spend his life healing his master’s injured gladiators. But his warrior’s heart yearns to fight in the gladiator ring himself and earn enough money to win his freedom.

LUCIA is the daughter of Tag’s owner, doomed by her father’s greed to marry a much older Roman man. But she loves studying the natural world around her home in Pompeii, and lately she’s been noticing some odd occurrences in the landscape: small lakes disappearing; a sulfurous smell in the air…

When the two childhood friends reconnect, each with their own longings, they fall passionately in love. But as they plot their escape from the city, a patrician fighter reveals his own plans for them — to Lucia’s father, who imprisons Tag as punishment. Then an earthquake shakes Pompeii, in the first sign of the chaos to come. Will they be able to find each other again before the volcano destroys their whole world?

Buy the Book~

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
Books-a-Million
Fishpond
Powell’s
Waterstones

Vicky Alvear Shecter, Biography~

Vicky Alvear ShecterVicky Alvear Shecter is the author of the young adult novel, CLEOPATRA’S MOON (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2011), based on the life of Cleopatra’s only daughter.

She is also the author of two award-winning biographies for kids on Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. She is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta.

Author Links~

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/cursesandsmoketour
Tour Hashtag: #CursesandSmokeBlogTour

Curses and Smoke_Tour Banner_FINAL

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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