The Unlikeable Protagonist

A group of us were discussing characters the other day, and I was gratified to note in some of my reviews that readers really love the HETAERA story–but not necessarily the heroine. At least not at first. Little did they know this was somewhat intentional. *cue evil laughter

There are so many wonderfully complex histories out there, and for some reason the ones that resonated with me were the tales of redemption. Cleopatra, Lucretia Borgia, and Suleyman’s Roxelana aren’t necessarily “nice” girls, but the reader can identify with them after a fashion. Maybe even sympathize, a little.

When I unraveled the tale of Rhodopis, it struck me how young she was when she began a brutal life, and how that life may have shaped her. In the way of egocentric youth, I chose to portray Dori the way many teens strike me–with a vision of the world as it pertains to themselves. Some people called her “selfish”…well, yes! I prefer to think of her as “thoughtless” in the way that only a beautiful young woman can be. It is only in her later years that Dori/Rhodopis gains a woman’s wisdom and is able to see beyond the limits of her own selfish desires. That growth is essential to her story, and it makes the ending far more satisfying, I think, than a saccharine heroine who is too too good from the very beginning.

So, although Dori may not be easily identifiable to readers who expected a more “heroic” heroine, she is exactly as I hoped she would be. Flawed and utterly human. A woman who grows and eventually redeems herself to be the heroic figure we want her to become. A real woman.

In this next novel, I have set my bar even higher, choosing a subject that is admittedly difficult and fraught with controversy. The muse is speaking slowly, so slowly, and I can only hope that I do her justice. I hope I can.


Let Them Eat Cake…or Hot Cross Buns?

At the risk of posting controversial statements and religious commentary on my blog, I cannot help but make mention of my latest novel-in-progress in these days leading up to the Easter holiday.

Let me preface this by stating that I believe strongly in tolerance and acceptance. I will not discuss my personal spiritual beliefs other than to state charity for my fellow man. Whew!  Now, having that out of the way…

Genesis-GiftLife-20-of-65Some many years ago, I stumbled across a gorgeous sculpture while hosting a student tour of the Dallas Museum of Art. It was there the artist’s siren song sang a name to me, a name that inspired countless hours of research. The likeness was attributed to that of a Babylonian queen—Semiramis.Semiramis

She’s been called many things—Mother of Harlots, Queen of Heaven…and like much of my work, I believe the truth may lie somewhere in the human story of the woman who brought adulation (and horror) to the entire known world. She has been called many names- Sammuramat, Shamiram, Astarte, Ishtar, …and as she lived in the time of Genesis, it stands to reason that the same legends would be told and retold in many (confounded?) tongues.

The book is only half-begun, and I feel like I’m wrestling crocodiles on most days—just trying to sift through conflicting legends, stories and embellished historical and biblical accounts.  Only time will tell if I can do the story justice.

So, why bring it up now?

Because Semiramis, for anyone who has made a study of religions, is considered by many to be the origins of Easter.

Her name is everywhere at this time of year.

Don’t believe me?  Try googling “Pagan origins of Easter” and read the first page (and there are many, many pages) of listings for what comes up. And while I’m not a big fan of using internet resources as gospel, the fact is that many of them cite gospel, when stating these claims.

As a historical author, I’m wary of anything proclaimed as “fact”.  But the fact (tongue-in-cheek aside) remains that there may be an interesting parallel between life in Mesopotamia and what is documented in Biblical history.

I actually loved the write up from UK author Heather McDougall who said hot buns

“… early Christianity made a pragmatic acceptance of ancient pagan practises, most of which we enjoy today at Easter….In the Old Testament we see the Israelites baking sweet buns for an idol, and religious leaders trying to put a stop to it. The early church clergy also tried to put a stop to sacred cakes being baked at Easter. In the end, in the face of defiant cake-baking pagan women, they gave up and blessed the cake instead.”

277px-Shamiram_araMaybe I’ll just stick to a slice of coconut cream pie….