In 2013, I met Gary Stickel, Ph.D., an archaeologist with a passion for all things Greek. He excavated at Achilleion, the legendary birthplace of Achilles, the great hero of the Trojan war. He also discovered the oldest site in the greater Los Angeles area, Farpoint, which dates from some 13,000 years ago. He’s worked at Michu Picchu in Peru, and served as a consultant for the Indian Jones films, prompting the London Times to call him the “Real-life Indiana Jones.” He’s now searching for the lost Palace of Odysseus, described in Homer’s epic-poem, The Odyssey.
Because I love writing historical novels, he suggested we collaborate on a book featuring Helen of Troy. Helen has only a brief mention in Homer’s The Iliad, and a chance to bring her to life as a real woman separate from the legend was an inspiring challenge. HELEN, the Wine Dark Sea, begins when Zeus seduces Leda, and Helen is born of their brief passionate union. She is a remarkably beautiful child, but headstrong and prefers horses to boys. Kidnapped by Theseus, the king of Athens, for her irresistible beauty, she proves to be a willful woman-child and regards him as beneath contempt. She is rescued by her brothers, but soon forced to wed a man she’s known from childhood, but doesn’t love. Menelaus has the wife he’s always desired, but being taken with Helen as a pretty child and loving her as a grown woman gives him a fierce challenge.
You may know Helen leaves her husband for Paris, a charming Trojan prince. Once you read his amazing story, he’ll be a sympathetic character rather than a scoundrel. The Greek gods Zeus, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, and Poseidon play with mortals lives for their own amusement, and take sides in the tragic Trojan War. The gods survive, of course, along with many of the intriguing characters from HELEN and they inspire a sequel I’ll finish this year. HELEN will be released early in 2016. I hope you love the book. Please send me your thoughts and write reviews if you have the time.