The Legacy of Kings Blog Tour: Interview with Eleanor Herman

Today, I'm so happy to have author Eleanor Herman stopping by Book Swoon to talk about her book LEGACY OF KINGS! I've asked Eleanor to talk about how she researched the historical aspect and what influenced the fantasy portion. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did. As part of the Kismet Book Touring, I have a great Giveaway at the end to offer!

Welcome, Eleanor!

For those not yet familiar, can you please tell us a little about LEGACY OF KINGS and what inspired you to write a YA historical fantasy about Alexander the Great as a teenager?

Alexander was a pivotal character in world history who brought together east and west on a level that had never occurred before, and the world has never been the same since. His story has so much possibility for a YA series I’m surprised no one wrote it years ago! Hot guys in armor. A vicious warrior princess. An evil witch queen. (And this is the historically accurate stuff.) I wove in some fictional characters, created twists and turns of the plot, and set it all in a rich, complex ancient world.

Alexander the Great is such a legendary figure in the ancient world, as a historian, what was it like to research him? Did you have any research moments where history and legend blurred and the historian in you had to pick and choose what influenced LEGACY OF KINGS?

Alexander’s life is fairly well documented after he became king of Macedon at the age of twenty. Suddenly everybody was thinking, talking, and writing about him. But there are only two stories about him before then; one was how he tamed the wild stallion, Bucephalus, and the other was about the precocious questions he asked some Persian ambassadors. Given this black hole of information, I researched what he did as an adult and then extrapolated backward to imagine him at sixteen: brilliant, eager to take control, frustrated that he was still considered too young and inexperienced by people in power. He always had an amazing knack for getting his soldiers to adore him—he remembered all of their names and stories—and I incorporated such a moment in the epic battle scene at the end.

Can you share with us about the main characters: Alex, Kat, Jacob, Heph, Zo, Cynane and Olympias?

Alexander, eager to prove himself to his father and the world, is ready to set out on a quest with his best friend, Hephaestion, a murderer whose secret Alex alone knows.  Alex finds himself drawn to a newcomer, the peasant girl Katerina, who has her own secret: kill Alexander’s mother to avenge her own. Jacob, who grew up with her, will stop at nothing to marry her, even joining the sinister Aesarian Lords. Alexander’s warrior sister, Cynane, is seething with jealousy and has ambitions on the throne. And across the sea, Alexander’s intended bride, the Persian princess Zofia, runs away to avoid marrying him and finds herself on an epic journey to alter her destiny.

Women play an important part of the story, can you tell us the importance you felt in this?

As a women’s historian, I am acutely aware of the fact that history has been mostly written by men, about men, for men to read, somehow burying the fact that 50% of the human population actually lived. The greatest men in history were probably influenced in important ways by their mothers (who isn’t?), and by their wives and lovers  (who isn’t?), but we know so little about these women, it’s tragic. In my non-fiction books (Sex with Kings, Sex with the Queen, Mistress of the Vatican) I plucked forgotten women from the dust heap of history and gave them the prominence they deserve. In fiction, too, we need to include women who never showed up on the world stage but were, nonetheless, important and powerful.

The cultural setting and time period of LEGACY OF KINGS, Macedon and Persia, seems like such vivid and exotic places to create a historical fantasy. Can you tell us about any of the mythology or legends that may have inspired the fantasy portion of the story?

A few years ago I spent a month in an African fishing village to write a book called King Peggy about a Washington, DC secretary who quite unexpectedly became king. That was the most magical month of my life. The villagers—though most were Christian—also believed in a world of gods, goddesses, ancestors, prophetic dreams, visions, apparitions, and signs. There was no running water and only intermittent electricity, but every rock, tree and animal was potentially a spiritual being that could grant you blessings or grief. I suddenly understood how ancient Europeans viewed the world, and how vital the myths, legends, and gods were to them. In western civilization, modernity slowly ground these beliefs away, and I think we’ve really lost something. I would rather live in a glittering magical world than a dispassionately clinical one.

Do you have a favorite archeological site that you have visited or an inspiring research moment that was a turning point leading to the creation of LEGACY OF KINGS?

When I go to ancient sites, I experience a physical exultation coursing through my veins that must be something like getting high. (I don’t know for sure because I’ve always been too afraid to try.) My heart beats faster. I touch the stones with awe and reverence, thinking about all the people who touched them thousands of years ago, wondering if there is a fragment of energy they left behind that I can absorb. Delphi, where the great oracles operated for a thousand years, clobbered me over the head with its magic and mystery. I filmed a History Channel show in Aphrodisias, in what is now Turkey, an entire Greco-Roman city where archeologists are currently excavating. I’ve been in raptures at the oracular temple of Didyma, in the ancient cities of Pergamum, Side, Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Apollo’s sacred isle of Delos. Writing the Legacy series is such a privilege because now I go to ancient Greece every day when I sit in front of my computer!

If you could choose three figures from ancient history to visit with, whom would you choose and why?

My first choice would be to invite Jesus to dinner because he is the most influential and yet elusive character of the ancient world. According to the Biblical record, he had one human and one divine parent, just like Achilles, Hercules, Helen of Troy, and Alexander himself! Jesus could also save me money on the tab by turning the water into really delicious wine.

My second choice would Sunday brunch with Alexander the Great who was at once a product of his time and yet so far ahead of it: mixing cultures, blending east and west, and showing mercy when other generals would have bludgeoned the conquered to death. And thirdly, I would to have cocktails in a pick-up bar with Cleopatra and watch her put her slicing intellect and sinuous charm to work on all the men.

Thank you, Eleanor Herman for the fantastic interview!

Legacy of Kings
(Blood of Gods and Royals #1)
by Eleanor Herman
On Sale: August 25th 2015 
Young Adult
Hardcover, 384 pages
by Harlequin Teen

Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.
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About Eleanor Herman:

Before the Game of Thrones craze swept the nation, Eleanor Herman was hard at work entertaining readers with her extensive research on courtly intrigue and romance. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Sex with Kings, as well as three other works of nonfiction: Sex with the Queen, Mistress of the Vatican, and King Peggy.

Obsessed by all things royal and historical, she lives in McLean, Virginia with her husband and four extremely dignified cats. Legacy of Kings is her first novel.

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Giveaway Info:

Thanks to the amazing team at Harlequin Teen, each stop on the tour will be offering up a copy of THE LEGACY OF KINGS, so be sure and follow along for more guest posts, interviews and chances to win! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway is open to US/CA only.

Tour Schedule: