A talk with author Ruth Kozak

Today we are delighted to welcome author Ruth Kozak to the Conclave.

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W. Ruth Kozak is a Canadian travel journalist with a strong interest in history and archaeology. A frequent traveller, Ruth lived for several years in Greece and instructs classes in travel journalism and creative writing. A travel writer since 1982, Ruth also edits and publishes her own on-line travel zine at www.travelthruhistory.com Her ATHENS AND BEYOND e-book for Hunter Publishing, US was published in Nov 2015 on Kindle and she is currently working on one EXPLORING THE GREEK ISLANDS.

display of book  and Empowered Writer award
Ruth’s novel with her Empowered Writer Award

Ruth’s first historical fiction novel SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON (Volume One) was published July 2014 by www.mediaaria-cdm.com UK. This is her first published literary work. Volume Two BLOOD ON THE MOON: THE FIELDS OF HADES will be produced in 2016. SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON is currently available on Amazon.com and in bookstores.

reading the the grade nine class at the Athens Community School
Ruth at a reading with the 9th grade class at Athens Community school

Ruth is a member of the Federation of BC Writers, The Canadian Author’s Association and is President of the BC Association of Travel Writers. She also instructs writing classes and presents workshops and readings.

 

Welcome to the Conclave, Ruth. It is an honour to have you with us. First of all, why not tell us about Shadow of the Lion.

When Alexander the Great, King of Macedon and conqueror of Asia, dies suddenly under suspicious circumstances at the age of 33 in Babylon, everyone who lives in his shadow is affected. As the after-shocks of Alexander’s death bring disorder to his Empire from Macedon to Persia, a deadly power struggle beings over who will rule. SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON begins with Alexander’s death in Babylon and the birth of his only legitimate heir Alexander IV (Iskander) who becomes joint-king with Alexander’s mentally challenged half-brother Philip Arridaios. Volume One is the journey of the kings from Babylon to Macedon. Volume Two THE FIELDS OF HADES, which is due out in September, covers the wars of Alexander’s Successors and the women who dominated his life including his mother, Olympias, and his niece Adea-Eurydike resulting in the tragic end of Alexander’s dynasty.

Statue of Alexander on Bucephalus at Thessaloniki
Statue of Alexander on Bucephalus, in Thessaloniki

Interesting that you should start with the aftermath of Alexander; others before you have concentrated on the man himself and his empire. What drew you to that period in history?

I first became fascinated with Alexander in a history class at school when I was 16 years old. By the end of high school I had written my first Alexander-themed novel. It wasn’t until 1979 that I first visited Greece, ending up going there to live during the ‘80s and from 1993, part time while I wrote SHADOW.

ancient Babylon
Artist’s impression of ancient Babylon

How did you research it, and have you endeavoured to be as historically accurate as possible?

This is historical fiction, but it follows a historical time-line so I wanted to be as accurate as possible. I did a great deal of research early on in libraries, but once I started to travel and live in Greece I did more research on sites as well as with the help of Classical scholars, the Greek Ministry of Culture, the Finnish Institute and other sources.

Do you see this as a continuation of your travel writing?

Yes, I actually combined a lot of my research trips with travel writing. In 1993 I had a major story published in the Montreal Gazette about My Search for Alexander which included some of my research trips.

I think the two go together very well. Do you find it more difficult to write about a history that you have not experienced directly, rather than a lived travel experience?

I believe if you are going to write a historical novel you need to try and visit the places you

Ruth in Egypt
Ruth in Egypt

 

are writing about to get a sense of the country, geography etc. Of course I couldn’t visit ancient Babylon (Baghdad) so I had to do lots of research. I did try to get to as many locations as I could and missed my chance to get to Syria. Eventually in 2014 I got to Alexandria, Egypt while on a travel writer’s tour.

That sounds amazing. What a wonderful place for a writer’s tour. I imagine that this way it will be easier to picture the places and make them come alive for your readers. Have you put yourself into the story?

I tried to ‘tag’ various characters with people I had observed to give them a realistic take so I did a lot of observations and note-taking. Also, as you say, by visiting the ancient sites I was able to use my imagination to ‘put myself there’. I felt very connected with the characters in my story and let them lead me through. And I always felt that Alexander’s spirit was very close by.

bust of Alexander
Bust of Alexander

That sounds very positive and interesting. What do you hope readers will take from Shadow of the Lion?

I hope that readers of SHADOW OF THE LION will get a clearer impression of what life was like in those days, what Alexander meant to the world of his time, and therefore gain a better knowledge of the ancient history.

That’s pretty succinct, and very intriguing too. So, tell us what else you have in store for us? What’s your next project?

Because of the length of the manuscript, the publisher decided to make it into two volumes, so SHADOW OF THE LION: THE FIELDS OF HADES will be out later this year. Meanwhile I revived another novel I had set aside while writing SHADOW. This is a Celtic tale, first person, in the voice of a young Druid’s girl who is kidnapped by a renegade chieftain and ends up at the border of Ilyria/Macedon rescued by a young hunter, Alexander. It comes from an idea that because I knew so much about those times perhaps I had once lived then, so it’s almost like a past-life regression story. DRAGONS IN THE SKY links the Celts and the Greeks.

I am also currently working on another e-book guide for Hunter Publishing, US about the Greek Islands.

I look forward to your story of the Greeks and Celts, a subject I am also interested in. Thank you very much for sharing your story with us today.

Thank you, it has been a pleasure.

It has been a most enjoyable interview. We wish you every success with Shadow of the Lion and your other projects.

SHADOW OF THE LION FRONT COVER_opt

 

 

Shadow of the Lion: Bloood on the Moon is available here:

UK Customers

US and International Customers

Athens and Beyond travel guide:

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US and International Customers

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