|Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party ~ Wikipedia|
I realized I knew next to nothing about this turbulent time period and embarked on a journey to learn as much as I could. The 5th Century was particularly violent: the Huns forced other barbarian tribes west into Roman territory, the Christian Church underwent convulsive birth pangs as it emerged from a century of internal conflict to become a potent political force, and the political power that was Rome stumbled, mortally wounded by internal corruption and external invasion. This was the century of the Fall of Western Rome and the birth of the Eastern Byzantine Empire. For a writer and history buff, it was a treasure trove of untold stories and unexplored history. What was not to like?
As I researched Hypatia's life and times, I came across other remarkable (and little known) women and their stories: Placidia, sister to Emperor Honorius who was captured by the Goths when they took Rome in 410, married their king and ruled the Western Empire for over twenty years; her niece Pulcheria who—at the tender age of fifteen!—proclaimed herself Regent for her younger brother Theodosius II and co-ruled with him for much of his reign; Athenais, a young pagan beauty who captured the heart of “The Most Christian Emperor” and contended with Pulcheria for influence over Theodosius. They were all wonderfully complex, compelling stories of powerful women set in this time of turbulence and change just waiting for a writer to discover them and bring them out of the shadows.
I wrote Hypatia's story in my first novel and Placidia's in my current book Twilight Empress. I hope to have Pulcheria’s and Athenais’ stories out in the next couple of years. When I first pitched my 5th Century novels, I got a lot of enthusiastic praise from agents and publishers, usually followed by, “But no one is interested in this time period. Do you have any books about the Tudors?” I didn’t and probably never will. I'm hoping readers are becoming just a little bored with the Tudors and their era. Maybe they're ready for something different, but equally fascinating: the Theodosians, barbarians at the gates, and the Fall of Rome.
© 2017 Faith L. Justice
About the author
Faith L. Justice is a science geek and history junkie, which is reflected in her writing. Her short stories and poems have appeared in such publications as “The Copperfield Review”, “Beyond Science Fiction and Fantasy”, and the “Circles in the Hair” anthology. Faith has published in such venues as “Salon.com”, “Writer’s Digest”, “The Writer”, and “Bygone Days”. She’s an Associate Editor for “Space & Time Magazine”, a frequent contributor to “Strange Horizons”, and co-founded a writer’s workshop more years ago than she cares to admit.
To contact Faith, read her essays and interviews, or get a sneak preview of her historical novels, visit her website at www.faithljustice.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Twilight Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome by Faith L. Justice
Publication Date: May 12, 2017
Raggedy Moon Books
eBook & Print; 392 Pages
Series: The Theodosian Women, Book 1 Genre: Fiction/Historical/Action & Adventure