Posts tagged ‘Leptis Magna’

Roman mosaic from time of Hadrian and Elektra in Leptis Magna

This stunning, intricate Roman mosaic displayed at Altes Museum in Berlin could easily have been the floor of the triclinium (dining room) of the villa by the sea in Leptis Magna where Elektra of The Black Scroll finds herself enslaved.

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September 29, 2017 at 4:39 pm Leave a comment

Aerial shots of Leptis Magna taken by Jason Hawkes for The Telegraph

I have set the beginning of The Black Scroll in Leptis Magna, just outside of today’s Tripoli, Libya. When you look at these splendid images by Jason Hawkes of some of the world’s best extant Roman ruins, you will understand my passion to visit. Unfortunately for myself and others like me, the politics of Libya have kept tourists at bay for decades. Fortunately for the ruins, they remain virtually undisturbed ghosts of the distant past.

As fortune would have it, these photos came out shortly after I started writing The Black Scroll (Feb 11 my start date – Mar 05 publication of photos). I am pleased to say that the LM (Leptis Magna) of my fantasy is remarkably like the one in the photos below.

For more wonderful shots of Leptis Magna and Sabratha, the second of the three ancient Roman cities (Tripolitania) as well as some of modern Tripoli (Oea), please click on the link at end of post to go to The Telegraph page with 24 aerial photos by Jason Hawkes.

amphitheatre or arena where gladiators fought in Leptis Magna. photo by JasonHawkes.com published in The Telegraph Apr 3 2013

Amphitheatre (Arena) where gladiators fought other gladiators and wild animals in Leptis Magna – Note: Between the Arena and the sea was the Circus or site of chariot races – photo by JasonHawkes.com published in The Telegraph Mar 5 2013

Lepts Magna theater - photo by JasonHawkes.com published in The Telegraph Apr 03 2013

Leptis Magna open air theater facing the Mediterranean – photo by JasonHawkes.com published in The Telegraph  Mar 5 2013

The villa by the sea featured in The Black Scroll was built on this coastline - photo by JasonHawkes.com published in The Telegraph Apr 3 2013

The villa by the sea featured in The Black Scroll was built on this North African coastline – photo by JasonHawkes.com published in The Telegraph Mar 5 2013

The Cardo or main thoroughfare through Leptis Magna down which Elektra was marched after being sold as a slave - photo by JasonHawkes.com published in The Telegraph Apr 03 2013

The Cardo or main thoroughfare through Leptis Magna down which my Elektra was marched after being sold as a slave – photo by JasonHawkes.com published in The Telegraph Mar 5 2013

click link for more aerial photos of Leptis Magna, Sabratha and Tripoli by Jason Hawke published in The Telegraph Apr 03 2013: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturepicturegalleries/9909936/Roman-ruins-in-Libya-aerial-photographs-by-Jason-Hawkes.html?frame=2500368

April 3, 2013 at 5:07 pm 1 comment

Standing up to write The Black Scroll

Here's where I'm writing The Black Scroll. Notice my makeshift high desk so I can stand?

Here’s where I’m writing The Black Scroll. Notice my makeshift high desk so I can stand?

Doesn’t look very glamorous, and not my greatest photography, but here’s a shot of my workstation for writing The Black Scroll.

Hope you’ll notice the height and no chair. After some back problems from sitting in front of a computer all day, I elected to write standing up.

I’ll admit it took a little getting used to, but I seem to have come over the hump. My brain’s working; the Muses are singing.

The screen on the left is the book itself as I write in InDesign. The laptop screen has my Excel spreadsheet with research including the 500+ quotes I’ve collected. I also do frequent Google searches to research details and fact check.

The eyes of the woman on the screen are Elektra, protagonist of Book Three. The pink towel between the two banker boxes is for my cat who sometimes sleeps there while I write.

Stack of books? Hadrian, The Roman Cavalry, Atlas of Classical Archaeology (for city plan of Leptis Magna) and Sex and Society in Greco-Roman Egypt. Under it all is a binder containing pages of notes.

Hanging above the work station is a photo I took on the Nile, a movie poster from ‘The Eagle’, a map of the Ancient Nile Delta and a map of the Mediterranean. To the left is a printout of an email from my friend Ann Calhoun with much appreciated (and always needed) words of encouragement.

On the far left, taped to a book shelf, is a printout of my favorite cover – but one I’m not using. It’s the Red Mirror with Isis’ eye. I opted for another cover to make the series more identifiable and the covers more cohesive. Could never repeat, no matter how hard I tried, the power of that Eye.

In case you have trouble making out details, standing on the shelf above my head are two sailing ship models, a bust of Aphrodite, Nefertiti’s head, a statuette of Athena my daughter brought me from Greece, a sitting Japanese sage, a carved wooden “Old Salt,” and a bronze figure of Shiva. Oh! don’t want to forget the brass falcon head of a shoehorn.

Here I am working on this very blog post.

Here I am working on this very blog post.

On the desk always my cup of black tea with milk – or my snifter of brandy or scotch depending on time of day.

The Black Scroll – 84,433 words as of yesterday. 38 Chapters. 261 pages.

March 26, 2013 at 5:47 pm 5 comments

How the Arab Spring has influenced my third book, The Black Scroll

It occurred to me that I’m supposed to be writing here about writing. I haven’t done a very good job with that, so am striving to make some course corrections.

At long last, I got the courage to start writing Elektra’s story. I’ve thought a lot about why it’s taken me so long. Was it fear of writing itself? Of not having any more ideas? Or was it fear of the story that Elektra has to tell?  Now that I have begun, I know that this is a story I couldn’t have told without going through the experience of Arab Spring.

You may ask what the Arab Revolution has to do with ancient Roman Egypt? Well, for starters, I wouldn’t have thought to begin the book in Leptis Magna, which is outside of Tripoli, Libya. At least, I don’t think I would have. I will never know, of course, because I chose the path I am on. No one can say where another path would have lead me.

I don’t think  Elektra would go off to the Nafusa Mountains to learn the Sacred Arts (magic – or black magic, if you prefer to use its power in that way) if I hadn’t followed battles there during the Libyan Revolution via twitter. I wouldn’t have realized how ancient the Imazighen people are. That’s “Berbers” to those who don’t know that the truly native (non-Arab) North African prefers to be called an Amazigh (singular). Their language is properly known as Tamazight and remarkably close to the language spoken in ancient Egypt.

But I have diverged. There’s more to the Arab Spring influence on my writing than geography. Until I lived the stories coming out of Libya, Egypt and Syria, I had no real understanding of brutality. I knew about it intellectually. I’ve done extensive research on the Roman Empire. I studied Latin years ago. I’ve seen almost every film made on ancient Rome. But there was something about the modern brutality I experienced through twitter that simply brought ancient horrors to life.

When I was writing a couple of scenes, which I believe I portrayed with just enough detail that you can use your imagination to make more graphic if you please, I reminded myself that things much worse happen every day, right now. “No,” I tell myself.  “It’s not over the top.” It happened. Far worse things happened. And it was institutionalized – an accepted part of culture and life.

The Black Scroll, after 27,000 words, deals so far with slavery, the power of magic – perceived or real – and of course, Elektra. Isis has gone back through the Red Mirror to her incarnation in 130 AD, the time of Hadrian. If the book evolves as the other two, I’m not quite a third of the way into the story.

It’s been intense. This book is very different from The Red Mirror and The Emerald Tablet, which are actually different from each other. I think that a trilogy is usually a continuing story with very similar drama. So perhaps it is appropriate, after all, that I have re-titled the group as Red Mirror Series.  The modern story is the continuing thread that binds them together. And the characters, of course. The reincarnating circle of souls.

I’d like to think that each book can be read separately. I tried to write them that way. I’ve had some feedback from readers who started with The Emerald Tablet and report enjoying it very much with no issues of ‘feeling lost.’

Elektra‘s story has begun with new characters in key roles. That’s just the way she’s telling it. My impression as I leave ancient Libya to make for Egypt, is that Hektor, the General, Antinous and River God will soon take center stage.

BTW, you’ll notice that I don’t have a new name for River God, aka Black Falcon. I’m waiting for him to reveal himself.

February 24, 2013 at 9:02 pm 1 comment


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