Knox Robinson Publishing closing its doors

Sadly, my publisher is going out of business and pulling all its books out of circulation. Needless to say, this is discouraging news. I’m not quite sure what it means for Shadow of Athena. I may have to sell my books independently for a while. I will post a link as soon as I have figured out where prospective readers can get my books. In the future I will be seeking a new publisher.

In the meantime, if you have not already bought Shadow of Athena and intend to do so, do it NOW! The books will be pulled from circulation soon. If you try to get the book and are unable to do so, please let me know. I will be ordering copies and will have some on hand.

I am still planning to have a scheduled book-signing at a Barnes & Noble in Minneapolis on February 28, 2018, because the books for that event have already been ordered.

A Friend Reviewed SHADOW OF ATHENA on her Webside

My childhood friend, Ann Metlay of Cottonwood, Arizona, has forged a new career as an artist in a unique medium. Ann creates sculptures from wood she finds in the desert and woodlands near her home. Here is how she describes her work: “I see myself as an assemblage artist, not a sculptor. Nature shapes every piece of wood I find. Using a dremel, a sander, dental picks, wire brushes, and sandpaper, I clean off the mud and dried bits of plant life from each piece I collect. I use primarily papier mache to join these elements into sculptures, where the lines of a palo verde branch gossip with the nubs of cedar bark to form couplings of organic beauty.”

She has created some interesting and truly beautiful works of art. She has also posted a review of my novel SHADOW OF ATHENA in her blog. Check out her website here: Adrift: Desert Wood Assemblages

 

Camping As Research?

 

Ah, summer! We are on our annual camping trip. As twilight falls, I crouch on the shore of a beautiful lake in the Sierras. Before me is the cooking pot in which I made mac and cheese, and it’s very messy, with pasta and congealed cheddar sticking to the bottom and sides. How to clean it? I find myself thinking of the characters of my novels, all of which take place in antiquity, without—of course—any modern conveniences. In most of my stories, my characters have had to survive under very primitive circumstances. How did they cope with a dirty cooking pot? To be sure, they didn’t make mac and cheese, but a greasy stew, where some of the meat stuck to the bottom, would present much the same problem. Perhaps they too crouched on the shore of a lake or stream and used what tools nature provided. I dip my fingers into damp, coarse sand and begin scouring. I can easily imagine the heroines of my stories and their real-life counterparts doing this same chore in the same way. The thought transports me to another world—their world.

The cleanup is surprisingly quick. The sand as an abrasive is not only very efficient but good for the environment as well—no detergent needed. (Note: Do not try this with a non-stick pan!)

Night has fallen. With my clean pot I walk back to my campsite, not using a flashlight. The darkness hones my night vision. I treasure occasions like this where my mind can leap across millennia to commune with the people of ancient times who walked through forests and mountains guided by the sun, and made their way at night without artificial light, aided only by the moon and stars.

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“The Mighty Dead” by Adam Nicolson—A Book Review

homerTHE MIGHTY DEAD, by Adam Nicholson—A Book Review

 

Who was Homer? Was he (or she) one person or many? Did a person named Homer even exist? Are the Homeric epics, so rich in detail, a record of a great conflict that took place at ancient Troy? And if so, why have archaeologists never reached a consensus about when it took place or indeed if it happened at all? Those of us who are interested in ancient history in general and Homer in particular cannot help but wonder about these questions.

Being passionate about Homer, I was thrilled to discover The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters, by Adam Nicolson. It is a riveting, unexpectedly beautiful book, an extraordinary redefinition of Homer that takes us back through the mists of time for a look at what just might have been the origin of the Homeric epics.

The Trojan War, Nicolson believes, took place far earlier than we have previously conjectured. He imagines a conflict, or clash of cultures, “a fusion of two very different worlds,” that happened around 2,000 BC between “the semi-nomadic, hero-based culture of the Eurasian steppes,” the peoples who migrated south to inhabit the land we know as Greece, and “the sophisticated, authoritarian, and literate cities and palaces of the eastern Mediterranean.” He defends his thesis with convincing evidence from ancient history, archaeological sites and relics, the oral traditions of Bronze Age cultures, and many other sources. “Greekness,” he writes, “and eventually Europeanness, emerged from the meeting and melding of those two worlds.” His quest takes us on a journey of discovery, and in the process we learn who—or what—Homer is, and why he is relevant to our modern civilization.

To Nicolson the question is not “Who was Homer?” but “What is Homer?” Although Nicolson personifies Homer as “he,” he defines him not a single person or even a group but as “the inherited tradition and memory” of a culture, passed down over millennia, and its essence, he says, is “a form of concentrated wisdom about the condition of life on this earth.”

But Homer is real and may be encountered in one’s life, as Nicolson did, and Keats before him, and many others whose stories Nicolson relates, and as I too have felt in coming face to face with the truth of the Homeric poems. Reading Nicolson’s marvelous book, I found myself saying, Yes, this makes sense, or Yes, this is why I find Homer so compelling, and highlighting some of the most beautifully written and cogent passages so that I could return to them again and again. I recommend this book to all who care about history and the deepest truths of our journey on this earth.

Reviewed by Elena Douglas (AKA Barbara Brunetti)