Monday, April 05, 2010

Scott Oden Interview

Guess what, everyone? I have a real treat for you! All this month I will be doing a series of interviews with historical fiction authors, starting with one of my favorites...Scott Oden!

Scott is the author of several books, including Men of Bronze, Memnon and Lion of Cairo. He graciously agreed to do this interview at the last minute, and his answers are really fantastic. I appreciate the time and effort he put into each question. It just proves how awesome he is as a professional and as a person.

Please make sure to comment below and let Scott and I know what you think!

Author Interview #1: Scott Oden

1) Who are you?

I am Scott, son of Arthur, of the tribe of Oden and the deme of Somerville (to use the ancient Greek format); by trade, I am a writer of historical fiction and historical sword-and-sorcery – gritty fantasy set in the historical past. I’m also a rabid video gamer and a long-time – nigh upon thirty years – player of pen and paper role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons.

2) Your latest novel The Lion of Cairo is going through the editing process. How close are we to seeing it on bookshelves?

As I write this, The Lion of Cairo should hit the shelves in time for Christmas, 2010. I’m told it will likely come out sooner in the UK, perhaps as early as August.

3) Your current WIP Serpent of Hellas returns readers to Ancient Greece, this time the early 5th century. What is it about this time period that fascinates you?*

The 5th century BC represents the first time in Western history that we have recorded evidence for a “Greatest Generation.” The Athenians, spearheaded by Themistokles, did some amazing things, things that are often overshadowed by the Spartan sacrifice at Thermopylae. Not to lessen the example of Leonidas and his Three Hundred, but it’s my position that the allies of Sparta sacrificed far more than the Spartans did, and the Athenians sacrificed most of all. Honestly, it was expected for a Spartan to die in battle – they prepared for it from birth. But it went wholly against Athenian nature, indeed the grain of any of the Greek poleis, to abandon their beloved city to sack and ruin, to evacuate their women and children to an allied city, and then to have men of rank put aside their class distinctions and pull an oar like the common folk. THAT took courage. And that they won against impossible odds makes it even better.

4) What other time periods would you like to write about? Civil War? WWII? Ancient Rome?

I’m pretty sure I have a Musketeer novel in me, an honest look at the life of Charles de Batz-Castelmore d’Artagnan. I like time periods or personalities that haven’t received a great deal of coverage from other writers, eras with a surfeit of blood and thunder. So, maybe something about the Vandals in North Africa or the very Conan-esque rise to power of Baibars I.

5) You also have a love of all things Orcs. Any chance we’ll being seeing an Orc novel or two in the future?

Definitely. I’m working on one that should come out after the Emir of the Knife trilogy (THE LION OF CAIRO and its sequels). I don’t really have a title for it yet, but it takes the Orcs as envisaged by Tolkien and works them into the fabric of Norse myth. It’s also going to be something of a quest, but from the Orcs point-of-view.

6) What are you currently reading?

I just finished Roger Crowley’s excellent 1453: The Holy War For CONSTANTINOPLE and now I’m about to pick up The Club Dumas by Arturo PĂ©rez-Reverte.

7) What’s your favorite historical novel? Movie? Game?

Favorite novel is Steven Pressfield’s GATES OF FIRE, followed closely by Mary Renault’s THE PRAISE SINGER. My favorite historical movie is not a movie at all, but a cable series: HBO’s ROME; as far as games go, I’ve not played a really good historical video game. I do like Mongoose Publishing’s CONAN RPG, and I tend to adapt the rules to historical settings . . . it makes an awesome engine for campaigns set during the Crusades.

8) Who is your favorite historical figure?

Memnon of Rhodes. I mean, this was the man who could have stopped Alexander the Great in his tracks, but for the xenophobia of the Persians. Had he lived earlier, during the Persian Wars, perhaps, then no doubt he would have been reckoned among the great men of history; because he lived in Alexander’s shadow, though, he is remembered as little more than a footnote.

9) If you could live in any time period, when would it be?

I have several, actually: Athens in the age of Pericles; Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy II; Republican Rome; Cairo during the reign of Saladin; Venice at its zenith; 16th century Paris . . .

10) Anything you’d like to add to all the readers out there?

Just keep reading. And if you’re a writer, keep writing. Books are more than windows on the past . . . they’re mirrors, as well.
* Scott gets a million HP for mentioning my favorite historical character Themistoc/k/les!