Monday, April 8, 2013

Interview with Adam Haviaras

Hello readers!

I think you are going to dig this author interview I have lined up for you. So what is more awesome than an author who mixes fantasy with history? A ridiculously well-educated, well-traveled author who mixes fantasy with history!

Adam Alexander Haviaras is a writer and historian who has studied ancient and medieval history, archaeology, and creative writing at the University of Toronto, Canada and the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. He is the author of the Eagles and Dragons historical fantasy series set in the Roman Empire as well as the Carpathian Interlude series of novellas. He currently resides in Toronto with his wife and children.

Here is my interview with Adam Haviaras!

First, tell us about some of your published works. What is the most recent one, or the one you are currently promoting?

I have an historical fantasy series set in the Roman Empire. The series is called Eagles and Dragons and the first book, which was released last year, is Children of Apollo. I’m getting ready to release a second edition of that book this spring followed by the sequel, Killing the Hydra.

Basically, the series follows Lucius Metellus Anguis, a young officer from an ancient and once-powerful Roman family. Lucius’ journey is one from an idealistic youth to a war-weary veteran who has no interest in politics but finds himself cast into that arena anyway. He is a deeply devout person with a strong sense of honour that is constantly challenged by those about him, including his own father with whom he has very little in common.

Children of Apollo introduces Lucius to the mysteries and intrigues of the world about him and the challenges of being a leader of men. It is only through love that he really begins to find meaning in life. In Killing the Hydra, things really begin to pick up and Lucius is forced to take action in a world that is increasingly violent and hateful. He is forced to choose sides in a political war that he would rather not have entered in the first place. But, the greater your success the closer you and those you love are to danger. He finds that out the hard way.

Last year I also released IMMORTUI, Part I of my Carpathian Interlude series of novellas. I wanted to write a zombie novel set in the Roman Empire and so this first novella is the product of that wish. It is set on the Danube frontier during the reign of Emperor Augustus and takes place just prior to the Varus disaster of 9 A.D. in the Teutoberg forest. This is also historical fantasy with a tinge of horror. I’m hoping to release the sequel this year.

If you could sit down and show one of your characters one movie, which character would you choose, and what movie would you watch with them?
That’s a tough question. There are so many good movies. I don’t think I would sit down with Lucius and show him Star Wars because the idea would be so inconceivable to him that I think he might go mad. He’s got enough to worry about.

I recently finished the first draft of Book I in an Alexander the Great trilogy I am writing. So, I think I would like to show Alexander the Great Oliver Stone’s Alexander movie so that I could ask him if it all happened like that. It would be very useful to get that inside scoop because, as one of the biggest figures in world history, Alexander the Great is surrounded by a solid wall of myth and legend. There are so many aspects to Alexander’s personality. I’d like to know what kind of person got men to follow him to the ends of the earth, to achieve the impossible.

Have you traveled much? If you have, where was your favorite place?
I love to travel. If money were no object I would just travel constantly with my family. I think it’s the best education you can get. You meet different people, you learn different languages and customs, and you discover loads of history.

I do try to travel to wherever I am writing about but obviously that is not always possible, especially when many of my books’ locales are in war zones or highly volatile areas.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some pretty amazing places, all over Britain, Italy and France. My wife is from Greece so we try to go there often. Greece is such a beautiful land, a place where myth truly does come alive. I love the Peloponnese. It’s like stepping back in time. The colour and light are so different and there is a story around every corner.

One of the most exciting places I have been to is Tunisia and the Sahara desert. As part of my research for Children of Apollo and Killing the Hydra, I went on a safari of Roman sites all over the country. It was amazing to see the ruins of vast Roman cities like Thugga and Thurburbo Majus in the middle of nowhere, mosaics open to the sky and all extremely well-preserved. Many of those sites are unguarded or, if there is a guard, it’s a Berber man with a camel and a long riffle slung over his back. I couldn’t go into Libya or Algeria for obvious reasons but it was all worth it to see the Tunisian Sahara. The sand was so soft, like sifted flour. I took off my shoes and walked on these massive dunes, just taking in the view, the silence. That was a trip I’ll never forget.

Do you have a time period that you prefer to read/write about?
I love the ancient world but I know that can span quite a chunk of time. If it takes place before 650 A.D. I’m there!

If I had to pick one specific period, it would be Dark Age Britain from the time Rome left in the early 5th century A.D. to the middle of the 6th century. That’s the ‘Arthurian’ period when the late classical age seems to dissolve into the early medieval world. Arthurian studies has always been my first love when it comes to history and literature and so I hope someday to write my own Arthurian cycle of books. I’ve been doing the research for years, in and out of university. I have mountains of notes. I’m not ready for that yet, but it will be the ultimate series for me. I’ve set the bar very high for myself on that one.

How about your favorite action/adventure book?
I like a book that blends action or adventure with poetic description and moments of beauty between characters. I always strive for such a balance in my own work.

One series that had an early impact on me as a writer was Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles (Dream of Eagles in Canada and the UK). I was blown away by those books, the research, the writing, the characters. It’s a fantastic series.

Another that stands out for me is Glyn Iliffe’s The Adventures of Odysseus trilogy. It’s extremely well-written historical fantasy with a wonderful blend of action, emotion and the fantastical. I highly recommend it.

I could go on and on with other examples, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Last of the Amazons by Steven Pressfield etc. etc.

When you are writing, do you like to have a drink or snack on hand?
Absolutely. But it depends on the time of day. If it’s early morning, coffee and a bagel. I do my best writing in the first part of the day. If I’m working in the evening, a nice glass of Chianti Classico (without the fava beans!) goes down quite nicely.

Tell us about your publishing journey. When did you finish your first book, and how did you come to publish it?
It has been a long journey to say the least. I started writing the Eagles and Dragons series while in graduate school at St. Andrews University in Scotland back in 2000. I just started writing and researching and didn’t stop until I had over a thousand pages in 2003. The stack of paper was so big it could have crushed a small animal.

After about three drafts I started to query agents and went through the usual round of mass rejections that most new writers went through at the time. Luckily, one big New York agent told me that I should split the book in two, that nobody would take a chance on a debut author with over a thousand pages. I figured that was solid advice and took it. I went back to that agent later and told him I had taken his advice and he said “I might read this shrimpy version of your book tomorrow, or I might never read it. Keep looking for other agents and let me know if anyone else is interested.”

I didn’t really know what to do with that. It seemed a bit rude to say the least. So, I did more rewrites after a load of good advice from some beta readers and began to query again. I actually had a lot of requests from agents in New York and London for the full manuscript of Children of Apollo. The feedback was usually something like this: “I love the characters, the history is fantastic, I love the detail, I love the story and the writing (etc. etc.)… but I just don’t know how to place it.”
As a writer, your ultimate fear is to be told that your writing isn’t good enough and of course I wondered about that. But all the feedback I got from agents was good! I was at a bit of a loss. I felt like I wasted so many years querying agents who would get my hopes way up and then dash them.

Then a friend of mine sent me a YouTube video of an interview with a girl named Amanda Hocking. That changed everything.

I had always seen self-publishing as a cop-out. I think most writers did. But the technology had changed so much, the tools had become so much better, that I figured going indie was not a cop-out or second-rate alternative, it was my best strategy. I was all dressed up with nowhere to go so I figured I’d give it a shot.

I’m so glad I did. My books are out there, people are reading them and telling me how much they have enjoyed them. Readers are writing to tell me my stories have helped them to see how inspiring history can be. For me, that’s what it’s all about.

2012 was a year of possibilities unveiled. So much is happening so fast as far as indie publishing. The people in the indie community are fantastic and creative and I’ve found that one thing many of us have in common is that traditional publishing looked the other way because we just didn’t fit into the exact categories which are the basis of their business models.

Indie authors, I’ve found, are constantly breaking boundaries with their creativity and that is a wonderful, exciting thing to be a part of.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
The learning never stops and I certainly am still learning as I go. But there are a few things I can pass along.

If you are going indie, get help from professionals for things like formatting, cover design and editing.

Help others and connect with people.

You should never give up on your dreams of being a writer, no matter how much people tell you it can’t be done or that it isn’t realistic. If it’s what you want, go for it and don’t look back. Nothing is worse than saying ‘What if?’ or ‘If only I had…’

Write what you know and love. Be yourself and write from your heart.

Write every day, whatever it is. It becomes easier with routine.

The best advice I ever received was from my mentor, the late poet Leila Pepper. She told me this:
            “Write the story down! Just get it onto the paper. Just write it. You can polish it later. Just get it down!” She was very emphatic about it. And she was right!

And last, what is your favorite dessert?
Tough decision! However, the corona aurea has to go to panettone. I don’t know if the Romans invented it but that sweet Italian bread sure is delicious.

He had to go all fancy on us and use a foreign dessert I've never heard of. No cheescake for interesting historians! :D

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about Adam, and hope even more that you go right now and check out his work!

Children of Apollo
At the peak of Rome’s might a dragon is born among eagles, an heir to a line both blessed and cursed by the Gods for ages.

Lucius Metellus Anguis is a young warrior who is inspired by the deeds of his glorious ancestors and burdened by the knowledge that he must raise his family name from the ashes of the past. Having achieved a measure of success in the Emperor’s Legions in North Africa, Lucius is recalled to Rome where he finds himself surrounded by enemies, cast into the deadly arena of Roman politics. Amid growing fears of treachery, Lucius meets a young Athenian woman who fills his darkening world with new-found hope. Their love grows, as does their belief that the Gods have planned their meeting but when an ancient oracle of Apollo utters a terrifying prophecy regarding his future, Lucius’ world is once more thrown into chaos. Ultimately, he must choose sides in a war that threatens to destroy his family, his faith and all that he has worked for.

Adam on Amazon:

Adam Website (which also has links to purchase the books):

Adam’s Free short stories on Wattpad:

Eagles and Dragons Facebook Page:

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