Delighted to say that as part of the Official Blog Tour For The Most Beautiful I talk to the author Emily Hauser about her debut book. I also review For The Most Beautiful and there is an exciting opportunity to enter a free prize draw to win a signed copy.
MEET THE AUTHOR
EMILY HAUSER – FOR THE MOST BEAUTIFUL
~ OFFICIAL BLOG TOUR 2016 ~
In the latest in a series of Meet the Author Interviews I talk Emily Hauser about her debut novel For The Most Beautiful which is has just been released today 28 January and available through all good bookshops.
Congratulations on your debut novel For the Most Beautiful. For those that are about to discover your book for the first time, can you give us a brief synopsis?
Thank you, John! For the Most Beautiful tells the legendary story of the Trojan War, as immortalised in Homer’s Iliad, from a new perspective – from the points of view of two women, Briseis, a princess of Pedasus, and Krisayis, daughter of the High Priest of Troy. When Helen arrives on a ship with Paris, prince of Troy, bringing war and destruction in her wake, the lives of both women are changed forever. As war takes over the Trojan plain, they are taken captive in the Greek camp by Achilles, the greatest warrior the world has ever seen, and Agamemnon, a cruel and brutal king – but will they allow themselves to be overtaken by fate, or will they fight to defend their homeland? … and I’ll stop there, I don’t want to give too much away!
For the Most Beautiful is stunning and is the first in the Golden Apple Trilogy. What made you want to write about the Women of Troy, Krisayis and Briseis?
Homer’s Iliad, and the tale it tells of the Trojan War, is one of the oldest and richest cultural myths in the west. But although the women are just about visible in the epic – hiding behind the walls of Troy; captive in the Greek camp – I wanted to bring their story to the fore. Their tale is one of incredible power, hidden in the pages of the Iliad just waiting to be told – but it so often gets overshadowed by the better-known tale of the rage of Achilles. I wanted to uncover that story. And when you look a bit deeper, you begin to see that these women – in particular, Briseis and Krisayis – had pivotal roles in the way the Trojan War played out: that, in fact, nothing would have happened the way it did without them! That’s what really fascinated me, and I felt that it was a story that needed to be told.
When you decided to write For the Most Beautiful you must have had to face a lot of research when retelling Homer’s Iliad. What challenges did you come across during the writing process and how long did it take to write?
I actually really enjoyed doing the research for For the Most Beautiful. As I’m currently studying for my PhD in Classics, I am fortunate to be immersed in this world on a daily basis. I’m lucky enough to have some amazing university libraries at my disposal, and while I was writing I would spend hours trawling through the stacks in search of old records of Mycenaean archaeology. I even came across an archive of old maps of Troy at Yale, with one dating back to the 16th century! For me, most of the research centred around getting the historical feel of Bronze Age Troy as accurate as I could – I’m fortunate in that I know the Iliad fairly well as a classical scholar, but I wanted to make sure that the reader really felt that Troy was historically accurate, as well as true to the details of the Iliad. So I spent a lot of time investigating the finds at Hisarlik (the site of ancient Troy), making drawings of Bronze Age armour, maps of the terrain of the Troad (the plain of Troy) and so on! My husband and I even made a trip to Troy, which was an incredible experience.
As for challenges, the main challenge for me I think was to be as true to the spirit of the Iliad as I could, whilst at the same time giving my own spin on it. It was probably the main reason why, for example, I included the scenes on Mount Olympus – so many modern authors choose to ignore the gods, but I felt that they were such a vital part of the world of Homer (and the Trojans) that they had to be there.
At Cambridge you studied Classics you now live and work in the United States – have you continued this journey? And did this inspire you to decide to start the Golden Apple Trilogy?
The idea for For the Most Beautiful was born from a class I took during my first year of my PhD at Yale, called “The Invention of the Classic”. One week we were assigned to read Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad – a re-telling of the Odyssey from Penelope’s perspective, and a read I would highly recommend! – and I thought, “Why has nobody done this for the Iliad?” And that’s how it all started!
I talk to a lot of authors about their writing routines: some are more creative in the early hours; some can write in a busy coffee shop. What are your writing routines? And what are your hopes and fears?
I have a very simple writing routine: I write in the morning and do whatever else I have to do in the afternoon, and yes, I work in coffee shops! As I’m often working in libraries for my academic research, I love the buzz and the feel of other people conducting their lives around me that you get from a busy café – that’s really the heart and soul of literature, isn’t it? I always set myself a target for the day – usually 700 words – and once I’ve done that I’ll stop and move on to whatever other work needs to be done for the PhD. While I sometimes change the order in which I work, I find the routine and structure helpful and productive to combine my writing and my love of research.
Have you started writing the second book in the trilogy? Can you give us an idea of what we can look forward to?
Yes, certainly! The second book in the Golden Apple trilogy tells the story of Atalanta, a courageous and determined female warrior who sets out on the legendary voyage to capture the Golden Fleece with Jason and the Argonauts. Exposed on a mountainside to die at birth because she wasn’t a boy, Atalanta is determined to prove to her father, the king of Pagasae, that she is worthy to be his heir. There’s more at stake than just the Fleece, though, as Atalanta also has her own kingdom to fight for…
What are you currently reading?
Pompeii by Robert Harris. It’s one of my favourite books and one I re-read at least once every few years! I adore the vividness of the picture he paints of pre-eruption Pompeii, as well as the pace and adrenaline of the plot. Historical fiction on the ancient world at its best!
Thank you to Emily Hauser for taking the time to take part in Meet The Author on a busy publication day. You can find out more about Emily Hauser by visiting her official web site. Here
The Last Word Review
A new writing talent arrives with a fresh new take on Homer’s epic masterpiece
Emily Hauser has taken a fresh new look at Homer’s epic Greek epic Iliad and the siege of Troy, but with a here is a fresh twist on the Greek myth.
The story is based around the Women of Troy namely Krisayis who is the daughter of the Trojan’s high priest and Briseis who is a Princess of the City of Pedasus close to Troy.
I recall reading Homer’s Iliad nearly 38 years ago and thanks to this I got interested in the classics. So anyone who has read Iliad knows the story and how the fate of Troy was sealed.
Emily Hauser has written the story through the eyes of the two women of Troy and how they used what power they had to influence the outcome.
Paperback edition – Available July 2016
For The Most Beautiful is an epic tale in its own right as Hauser tries to describe to the reader how life was living in the shadows of the gods of war. I have to admit that my favourite of the women was Krisayis she is brave and does everything she can to assist the Trojans by learning the Greek plans after she is captured by them.
You always know a good book when you get drawn into the storyline, and what Hauser has done here is to create a new and vibrant retake on the story of Troy not so much a retelling as I don’t think that this is how it comes across. Indeed, within in the interview I have done with Emily Hauser she says ‘It is a story that needed to be told’. For those not familiar with the epic Greek tale there is a handy detailed glossary of names and places at the back of the book. I compliment Hauser’s prose it is peerless. A truly outstanding debut.
For The Most Beautiful is the trilogy and each can be read on their own, and with the second book now underway I am already looking forward to the next instalment.
For The Most Beautiful written by Emily Hauser published by Doubleday. 28 January 2016.
Competition time. I have a signed copy of For The Most Beautiful to give away in a free prize draw. Head over to my Twitter page: @Thelastword1962 Just follow and retweet the post for ‘Pinned’ Tweet and you will go into the draw to win a copy of For The Most Beautiful.
* Please note: UK only prize draw. Winning book issued by publisher. Entry closes today 28 January 2016 at 8pm entries after this time will not be included