My other books were nonfiction history, so I know everything about life hundreds and thousands of years ago, and I thought that it would be really cool to do a novel with some fantasy elements and use some historical knowledge—because I was so sick of footnotes! All of my books had like 500 footnotes each, so I looked historically at the most pivotal characters and one of them is certainly Alexander the Great. We don’t know much about him until he turned 20 when his father died, and he became king at that point and everyone started writing about him. But they weren’t interested in his childhood (back then nobody was interested in your childhood) so I had to extrapolate backwards based on the man that he became to picture the boy he was on the cusp of manhood at 16. He was a brilliant person. The book incorporates his best friend Hephaestion and some other fictional characters and has elements of fantasy. In order to write it, I had to do a lot of research on life in ancient Greece because I wanted to create a very realistic, very full-body world so that whether you’re on a farm or you’re in battle, it smells and sounds and feels real and you can picture everything and it’s as historically accurate as possible. It has been called Alexander the Great meets Game of Thrones to sum it up… Continue reading below for an exclusive interview with Eleanor Herman!
Which character do you most closely relate to?
I think an author has to really understand the complexity of a person even when they do stuff they shouldn’t. My favorite character is actually the bad girl, Cynane… she’s trained on weapons and she went into battle and she was an amazing person, but she’s also snarky, sarcastic, manipulative, deceitful and also injured. Her mother was murdered when she was 10 so she has that side to her also.
Which genre does your book fall into?
My book is kind of multi-genre. It has traces of history in it… and there’s also a kind of mysticism about what happened to the gods. But it’s also got an awful lot of history mixed in with it. It’s funny because history and fantasy are sort of like a contradiction in terms, but I think it blends the two of them well.
What was the inspiration behind your book?
The inspiration behind my book was Alexander the Great himself, being such a pivotal character in history. As a historian I try to make every little thing I write accurate. So if people are going to sit down and eat a fruit, ya know, I want them to eat peaches. I would look up peaches, and peaches were not eaten in Greece until after Alexander opened up the east. They were in India and China, and toward the end of his life everybody was eating peaches. I thought it would be really cool to imagine him as a teenager with his brilliance and his frustrations and his friends and all of their internal conflict, and then put in some elements of fantasy.