A couple weeks ago, I went to a book launch party for the fabulous author and wordsmith, Vicky Alvear Shecter. Vicky has written two incredible nonfiction books for kids; Alexander the Great Rocks the World
and Cleopatra Rules! The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen.
Vicky's newest release (and the reason for celebration) is Cleopatra's Moon, a YA historical novel about Cleopatra Selene, the only daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. At the party, I asked Vicky if she would make a blog visit to discuss her book, which is garnering some fabulous reviews, I might add!
Hi Vicky, welcome and thanks for taking time to share with us!
Thank you for having me here, Gail! It’s always fun to talk about our work with friends.
Would you give us a brief synopsis of Cleopatra’s Moon?
Cleopatra’s Moon is the story of what happened to Cleopatra’s daughter, Selene, after Rome conquered Egypt (yes, the famous queen of Egypt had a daughter—it’s based on real history!). The story is told from Cleopatra Selene’s point of view as she tries to make sense of the tragedies that befell her family. Selene, by the way, was the only one of the queen’s four children to survive into adulthood.
The only child to survive? Go girl power! Was Cleopatra’s Moon your original title? If not, who changed it?
Yes, it is the original title. Selene means “Moon” in Greek, and Cleopatra was the last of the Greek, Ptolemaic rulers. I liked the subtle play on words because her daughter was, in many ways, like the moon—mysterious and in darkness—as compared to the bright lights of scrutiny continually trained on her own life as the last queen of Egypt.
Was there anything unusual or unexpected that you learned about Cleopatra Selene when you did your research?
The thing that surprised me the most—though I don’t know why it should have—is just how LITTLE the lives of girls and women mattered to the ancient historians. Here was the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony and yet we have nothing about her or her life. She is mentioned almost as an afterthought by Plutarch and some of the other ancient observers. We know only when she was born, who her parents were, where she was taken after the death of her mother, when she was marched as a political prisoner and when she was married off. That was about it! What a loss!
Cleopatra’s Moon has been called a good read for mother-daughter discussions. What did the discussion sound like with your own daughter?
I tend to discuss my books as I write, so the discussions evolved— at first talking about how it was that we know so little about Cleopatra Selene. Then it evolved into discussions about how the Romans used negative propaganda to shape our perceptions of the Egyptian queen— and how, as a culture, we still tend to do this today: smear the reputations of girls that threaten us or scare us in some way with sexually demeaning names.
Our discussions also moved into how Cleopatra Selene could keep her own sense of power in a world gone crazy.
Reminds me of present day bullying tactics only now the smear campaign takes place with technology.
What’s next in your writers’ grab bag?
I am hoping to write another historical fiction novel but I can’t say more for now! (Don’t want to jinx it!)
Ever have the urge to challenge yourself with an ancient history picture book?
Funny you should ask! My first effort at getting published was with a picture book about a cat in pre-dynastic ancient Egypt. Could. Not. Sell. It. I came close a couple of times, but no sale.
Since then, I’ve written a picture book about an amazing Nubian pharaoh named TAHARQA, but I haven’t been able to sell that one either.
But, I’ll keep trying because I would love to have some of the magic and mystery of the ancient world captured in a picture book.
Thanks Vicky for your time! I hope everyone will be intrigued and go buy Cleopatra's Moon. I know I'm enjoying my copy!
*ANNOUNCEMENT* Oh. My. Gosh. Vicky has offered an autographed copy of her book to one lucky blog follower! Here's the scoop:
- You need to be a follower of this blog and Vicky's blog
- If you tweet or FB post or blog post about the giveaway, leave me a link to it in the comments. That will earn you extra chances at the book.
- If you get someone new to sign up, mention it in the comments and earn another chance.