It is my pleasure to introduce Luciana Cavallaro, an Australian historical fiction novelist and a secondary teacher. Luciana likes to meander between contemporary life to the realms of mythology and history. Luciana has always been interested in Mythology and Ancient History but her passion wasn’t realised until seeing the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. From then on, she was inspired to write Historical Fantasy.
Luciana has spent many lessons promoting literature and the merits of ancient history. Today, you will still find Luciana in the classroom, teaching ancient history and promoting literature. She recently released The Labyrinthine Journey, Book 2 in the Servant of the God series. Click below for more information:
Tell us about your latest book, The Labyrinthine Journey? Is it part of a series?
The Labyrinthine Journey is Book 2 in the Servant of the Gods series. Evan and his companions need to locate the second sacred object of the Mother Goddess, and to do so they need to visit Pythia, the Oracle at Delphi, who reveals a few surprises. While on this epic journey, Evan grudgingly accepts that to get back to the 21st Century CE, he needs to take on the role as leader and use his knowledge to succeed in the quest. He’s still not happy and angry at Zeus, and we get to see a darker side to his personality.
How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?
There was a lot of research done to make sure the places Evan and his companions journey to were as accurate as I could describe. I want to give readers a vicarious experience of the locations and what it would have been like to live in the 6th Century BCE. I spent time researching books, read the works of Pausanias, Herodotus, and various texts where primary sources have been translated, read many authoritative websites, used maps and layouts of places, and watched documentaries.
I have notebooks where I write notes for each of my books. I make notes on description of the settings and buildings, what people wore, what was eaten, farming practices, the length to journey from place to place. It is all handwritten. I find this process is much more conducive for me to remember the little details and the big ones as well.
What is your inspiration for writing about the modern day hero, Evan, who is dragged back to 6th Century BCE, to fulfill a quest demanded by an ancient god?
Actually, the series didn’t start out that way. Evan’s character had a different name and started the quest with his Atlantean companions. I had the story critiqued, and well, let’s just say the person/s didn’t hold back on their opinion. The basic plot of the story remained the same, and after I had gotten over the harshness of the feedback, I reworked and rewrote the story. To make the story more accessible and for readers to accept Evan’s plight, I recreated his persona. The story and Evan’s character, as well as the others, are much more rounded, plus I introduced Phameas into the storyline. In the initial concept, he had a very minor role.
The critique and feedback I received did work in my favour, though at the time, it was hurtful and very difficult to overcome.
Is there something that Evan did in The Labyrinthine Journey that surprised you by what he did or said that was totally unexpected?
I am constantly surprised by Evan. I never know what is going to come out of his mouth, or how he is going to behave. Weird, probably as I am his creator, and I do have a profile of all my characters, however how they interact with each other, and what they say is all them. When Evan learns his half-brother Homer and his heckler, Hektor, both have families and children, he surprised me by vowing to complete the quest to make sure they get home. In Book 1, there was no way he would have considered that, but in The Labyrinthine Journey, he realises in order to get back to the 21st Century CE, he needs them to help him go home. I didn’t expect him to react that way.
Of all places that Evan and his companions visit, which place is your favorite and why?
Unfair question, Linnea! All the places Evan and his companions journey to are my favourite. If I really have to choose, then it is Thira, present day Santorini. For me, this place is where Plato gets his Atlantis story from. Visit Akrotiri and the palace of Knossos on Crete and not be convinced this isn’t the fabled city of Atlantis. There are too many similarities to his descriptions of Atlantis and what was found at Akrotiri. You just have to see the wall friezes of the island, the buildings and ships in the circular bay.
What else have you written? Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?
Besides the first book in the Servant of the Gods series, I’ve written a series of short stories that I published back in 2013 titled Accursed Women. Mostly, I have received positive feedback, but as you know, there are always going be negative reviews. Not easy to ignore those ones, and people are entitled to their opinion… as long as it is constructive. The best comment I had was for Aphrodite’s Curse, the first short story I ever wrote. A reader commented that though she “appreciated the author’s use of Greek spelling of names etc”, she didn’t like it, and as a result she gave the story one-star review.
What are the most important qualities you look for in a friend?
Generosity, camaraderie, honesty, loyalty, kindness, being a good listener, overall a good person. I know if I need to, I can call my closest and dearest friends any time of the day or night, and they will be there for me. They are very special people.
What is the best gift that you have received and why?
The best gift I have received was unexpected. It was a birthday I had, I wasn’t able to celebrate it with my family due to work, and unknown to me, my sister had arranged for my parents, grandmother, my younger sister and her husband with my 18-month nephew to come up and share the day with me. That was a special day, especially now that my grandmother has recently passed.
What simple pleasure makes you smile?
Being with my family.
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