Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Writer's Journal: Trip to Salem, Mass

I've written very little over the past few weeks. Partly because I've been traveling--went to New York to visit my parents, and my sister and I took a road trip up to Salem, MA. 

Of course, we were fascinated by the history. Salem is notorious for the witch trials. About twenty people died within a period of four months, and the repercussions continue to this day. Four short months have overshadowed all the other history. At one time Salem was a port more powerful than Boston, until the merchants got greedy and built ships too big and heavy--so they bottomed-out, forcing trade into Boston. 

My sister and I stayed in a wonderful B&B, The Morning Glory . Our hosts, Bob and Marcel, are charming and so is their home. 

I'm sure Salem will inspire more stories. I wrote a short story about the area called Raven's Blood which appears in my (short) short story collection, Ghost Plane and Other Disturbing Tales. The story was influenced by time I spent in Gloucester on Eastern Point, long ago. I used to tramp around the woods for hours, imagining I was a nymph, among other things. The area is magical, and the ocean is always present. So green and humid, compared to Colorado where I now live.

Fog rolls off the water, and wraps the streets in mist. At one point, the harbor boasted sixty wharfs, filled with storehouses, like the one above. Across the street from this wharf is the old Custom House where everything was weighed and taxed. Before breaking free of the British Empire, trade was limited to West Indies. Dried cod was traded for sugar, and when the sugar reached Salem it was transformed into rum. There wasn't a lot of slave trade, because there weren't large plantations like you'd find down south. A rich household might have had a few slaves, and indentured servants were popular. Many slaves used as apprentices, trained in trades which allowed them to make a living once they were freed: rope-making, sailors, barrel makers, etc. 

It was a great trip, but now I need to get back to ancient Greece!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hetaera--Suspense in Ancient Athens FREE today

If you haven't picked up a copy yet, Hetaera--Suspense in Ancient Athens is FREE today and tomorrow on Kindle.

Book One of the Agathon's Daughter trilogy, I began writing the book about ten years ago when I traveled through Greece with my friend and mentor, speculative fiction writer, Elizabeth Engstrom. I worked on the book at the (now defunct) Maui Writer's Conference and was privileged to study with the generous and fabulous writers Terry Brooks and Tess Gerritsen

I've been interested in ancient Greece for many years. Classic Greek theater and ancient religion was my major in college. I love the high drama of the Greeks, the beauty of their art, the philosophy--and the amazing influence they've wielded on western culture. Early on, I became fascinated with the role that women played in ancient societies. Very little was written about women's roles and everyday life, but that's what I've found fascinating. The plays offer some insight, as does studying the remnants of household goods on display at museums. The rest I leave to my imagination. In my books, I endeavor to bring ancient times to life, creating stories filled with drama and passion. 

In ancient cultures the most powerful women were often courtesans. The consort of Pericles, the famous Athenian statesman during the the classical period, was Aspasia--unable to marry, because she was not Athenian, Aspasia served as hetaera to Pericles. The hetaerae had great influence and were often highly educated. Unlike other women, who were sequestered within their homes, the hetaerae were permitted to attended symposiums. At these glorified drinking parties of the Athenian elite, discussion turned to heated debates about politics, art, philosophy--and the hetaerae voiced their opinions. 

If you would enjoy a peek into the amazing time and place of Classic Athens--pick up a free electronic copy of Hetaera today on Amazon.