A Conversation with Historical Fiction author, Brook Allen
Please give a warm Coffee Pot welcome to the author whose book, Antonius: Son Of Rome, was named The Coffee Pot Book Club Book of The Year 2019.
MA: Hi Brook, it is so lovely that you could drop into day and have a chat. For my readers who may not be familiar with you and your books, could you please tell them a little about yourself.
BA: Thanks for hosting me, Mary Anne. I’m historical fiction author, Brook Allen. I have a passion for all history, not just the ancient world. However, Rome’s late Republic has always been one of my favorite periods.
|Brook at the Actium site.|
MA: What inspired you to write your fabulous Antonius Trilogy?
BA: I’ve wanted to write on the end of the Republic since reading Julius Caesar in high school. When I got my Masters, I focused on ancient Roman studies and finally felt well-equipped enough to begin writing. I had read Margaret George’s iconic Memoirs of Cleopatra—THREE TIMES, and it really inspired me. But Caesar’s story had been done recently, and so had Cicero’s. I kept coming back to Marc Antony. He’s so controversial and when I started researching him, I got excited. Nobody has really ever tackled the end of the Republic from his perspective before. And it turns out, he had quite a story from childhood until he died. And it’s a unique story that most people aren’t aware of. Antony’s best known for his speech at Caesar’s funeral and for his relationship to Cleopatra, but believe me—there’s a whole lot more to him than that!
MA: I think you already know how much I love your series on Marc Antony, but could you explain how did you come up with your setting, and your characters?
BA: World-building is probably my favorite part of writing historical fiction. In my opinion, the setting has to be as strong as the characters. I want readers totally immersed in wherever the story takes them, whether it’s a steamy, cavernous bathhouse or the horrific site of a bloody battle lost. If it’s wonderful, I want a reader to dream about it. If it’s terrible, let them have nightmares! When one writes a biographical historical fiction work, you are bound by particular facts about the people upon whom you focus. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun! It’s been a joy giving “Marcus” sidekicks, habits—he likes to chew his lip, for example. I got that one from my husband, who does that whenever he’s nervous or stressed! And travel was integral to getting a real perspective for these books. Looking back, I think one thing that absolutely floored me was how large an ancient battle’s theater of war could be. And this was an age before radios or email. I had to create a world that was both old and yet sophisticated in many ways.
MA: There are many books in the ancient Roman historical fiction genre. Can you tell us three things that set your novels apart?
BA: First, I mentioned above that no author (to my knowledge) has ever approached this story in a retelling from Antony’s perspective. Believe me—it does give the historical record a completely new light. Secondly, when I started the project, I felt strongly that it needed to start when he was younger. Not much is really known about his early life, but there were so many things going on that had to have influenced him as he grew up. Patricia Southern’s biography on him was especially strong in pointing this fact out. By starting back when he was only eleven, the reader will better understand why he might have acted the way he did, later in life. Lastly, so many people have written this story from Cleopatra’s perspective. It has often left the perception that Antony was less important to the historical record, but truly, he was the ruler of the east. She was not. Yes, she was a great queen. But here is a guy who ruled an enormous territory and represented Rome for a decade, having to travel all over the place constantly, trying to keep the peace, and put out fires whenever there was an uprising. When you look at a map of the distances he traveled and how huge his borders were, it’s incredible that he did it for so long without technology, cell-phones, or the use of modern transportation. I think my books will prove that even though he continues to be controversial, Antony’s story was greatly blackened by his enemies and that will be made plain.
|Brook in Alexandria Egypt's harbor|
MA: One last question! Can you tell us what you are you currently working on?
BA: I’m working on the second draft of the final book in the trilogy. Its title is Antonius: Legend. A lot of readers are really looking forward to this one, so my husband keeps warning me, “don’t make it a Season 8 of Game of Thrones”! Ha! No pressure! If all goes well and I’m able to make my deadlines, then I’m hoping to launch it in the fall. After that, I’ll be taking a departure from ancient Rome for a while to write a slice-of-life story that’s much closer to home. I’m really looking forward to researching new material and getting out into my own community. For those readers who love the beginnings of American history and westward expansion, you’ll probably be most interested in my next project. It’ll be fun approaching something fresh and new.
|Brook with Antonia, Marcus's daughter|
MA: Thank you so much for stopping by today, Brook!
If you would like to learn more about Brook’s fabulous series then you know what to do, SCROLL DOWN!
For over two thousand years, Marc Antony has been one of history’s most controversial men. His story was buried with him and written by his enemies. Now his entire saga is revealed in a compelling trilogy by Brook Allen.
Antonius: Son of Rome
By Brook Allen
After young Marcus Antonius’s father dies in disgrace, he yearns to restore his family’s honor during the final days of Rome’s dying Republic. Marcus is rugged, handsome, and possesses abundant military talent, but upon entering manhood, he falls prey to the excesses of a licentious society. His whoring, gambling, and drinking eventually reap dire consequences. After a series of personal tragedies, Marcus must come into his own through blood, death, and sacrifice. Once he finally earns a military commission, he faces an uphill battle to earn the respect and admiration of soldiers, proconsuls, and kings. Desperate to redeem his name and carve a legacy for himself, he refuses to let warring rebels, scheming politicians, or even an alluring young Egyptian princess stand in his way.
Pick up your copy of
Antonius: Son of Rome
The Antonius saga continues…
Antonius: Second in Command
By Brook Allen
Having proven himself as a formidable cavalry commander, Marcus Antonius finally earns a position at his kinsman Julius Caesar’s side. However, Caesar is an exacting general, demanding complete allegiance from his staff, even when his decisions put him at odds with the Senate. Marcus’s loyalty to Caesar comes at a cost, and he soon finds himself embroiled in mob violence and military mutinies. As civil war brings Rome’s Republic crashing down, many a relationship is torn asunder, including Marcus’s marriage. Determined to rise triumphant in Rome’s new era, Marcus faces his fears, his failures, and his enemies—not the least of whom is himself.
Amid the crisis of the Ides of March, Marcus must don the mantle of ruthlessness to carve his own legacy in Rome’s history. Enemies have been made, wills have been read, and heirs proclaimed.
But in Rome’s civil unrest, blood answers only to blood.
From Antonius: Second in Command
“Push forward!” Marcus yelled over the din. It was true that sex thrilled him as few things did, but this night of nights, surrounded by danger and death, his five senses were heightened like never before.
It was nearly impossible to see all of the action around him, even now with his eyes accustomed to the night. Torches held aloft by slaves and smoldering pitch-fed fires were the only sources of light available. It was too risky to hurl javelins for fear of hitting one another instead of Gauls. He kept reminding his cavalry, “Trust your horses’ eyes in the dark!”
Men screaming, unnerved horses blowing snorts, and hooves drumming the ground. Metal clanging on metal. Someplace in the darkness some damnable Gaul was blasting a carnyx trumpet every ten beats of Marcus’s racing heart. Now and then an arrow hissed past his ear. If one took him by chance, there’d be nothing to do but fall and die. Tonight death was as random as a Venus in dice.
Beneath the broken walls, billowing smoke nearly choked everyone. The stink of burning flesh and hair, mixed with feces from men who’d taken gut wounds, hung low on the battleground. Intermingled in the tightest knots of desperately fighting men was the odor of unwashed bodies reeking from weeks of work and hard labor.
Beneath him, Marcus’s horse quivered. Sometimes it stumbled, probably on a corpse shrouded in the night. Marcus’s left hand ached from the weight of his shield; his neck twitched with tension. He kept his gladius drawn, using its shining length to guide his men.
Thick smoke from torches and pitch, coupled with burning oil, made him gag. Marcus could actually taste the acrid soot. Once, his horse spooked, and he bit his tongue, drawing blood, a warm, metallic trickle inside his dry mouth. After one engagement, he reached for the wineskin on his saddle, relishing the watered grape, a temporary relief for his parched throat.
Bellows of cheering men, glints of polished weapons, and quick-tramping infantry were what Marcus Antonius remembered about the night he and Trebonius worked together to turn a near defeat into Caesar’s greatest triumph.
Alesia was won!
Pick up your copy of
Antonius: Second in Command
Brook Allen has a passion for ancient history—especially 1st century BC Rome. Her current work is a trilogy on the life of Marcus Antonius—Marc Antony, which she has worked on for the past fifteen years. The first installment, Antonius: Son of Rome was published in March 2019. It follows Antony as a young man, from the age of eleven, when his father died in disgrace, until he’s twenty-seven and meets Cleopatra for the first time. Brook’s new book is Antonius: Second in Command, dealing with the Antony’s tumultuous rise to power at Caesar’s side and culminating with the tumultuous civil war against Brutus and Cassius.
In researching the Antonius Trilogy, Brook’s travels have led her to Italy, Egypt, Greece, and even Turkey to explore places where Antony once lived, fought, and eventually died. While researching abroad, she consulted with scholars and archaeologists well-versed in Hellenistic and Roman history, specifically pinpointing the late Republican Period in Rome. Brook belongs to the Historical Novel Society and attends conferences as often as possible to study craft and meet fellow authors. Though she graduated from Asbury University with a B.A. in Music Education, Brook has always loved writing. She completed a Masters program at Hollins University with an emphasis in Ancient Roman studies, which helped prepare her for authoring her present works.
Brook teaches full-time as a Music Educator and works in a rural public-school district near Roanoke, Virginia. Her personal interests include travel, cycling, hiking in the woods, reading, and spending downtime with her husband and two amazing Labrador Retrievers. She lives in the heart of southwest Virginia in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains.
What a delightful interview with Brook Allen! I've read her books based on the recommendation from this site and have found them to be engaging reads!ReplyDelete