(Guest Post on author Karen King’s blog)
This week we’re going back to Ancient Greece for an interview with Alexander the Great by Ashley Riverain, from Jennifer Macaire’s The Road to Alexander (Book 1 in the Time for Alexander series).
First, let’s find out a bit more about the book.
After winning a prestigious award, Ashley is chosen to travel through time and interview a historical figure. Choosing her childhood hero Alexander the Great, she is sent back in time for less than a day. He mistakes her for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her, stranding her in his own time. What follows, after she awakes under the pomegranate tree, is a hilarious, mind-bending tale of a modern woman immersed in the ancient throes of sex, love, quite a bit of vino, war, death and ever so much more.
intrigued? Let’s move onto Ashley’s interview with Alexander
Notes from Tempus University – time travel program. Background: Ashley Riverain won a prestigious award, and was sent back in time to interview Alexander the Great. All that made it back were part of her notes, inscribed on a memory stick disguised as an amulet. What follows is the transcription.
Ashley Riverain (hereby known as AR): Testing, one, two, three, test…holy shit. Sorry. Erase. Repeat. Erase. (Tapping sound). I have arrived in 333 BC. It is early morning, nearly sunrise, and the air is incredibly clear. I can see smoke rising, so I will head in that direction. I believe Alexander’s encampment is just over the rise. (Sound of footsteps on grass. Thud.) Ouch! Shit. Stupid sandals. Who made these things? (Sound of footsteps and then a gasp) I’ve just topped the rise. The encampment is amazing. Huge. Well organized. It is set up not far from a river. I see stables with paddocks and horses. On a plain, the soldier’s tents are all set up in neat rows. There are blacksmith tents, cooks’ tents with hundreds of clay pots for baking bread, there is a hedge of spears outside another tent. Must be the weapon repair shop. There is a large tent set up by itself, it must be Alexander’s tent. Since there are guards outside it, I’m assuming he’s inside.
(Sounds of footsteps, another thud) I hate these sandals!
Note by student: AR has prompted her tradiscope (cortex implant that enables speaking any language) so the rest of this interview is conducted in ancient Greek, Persian, and a barbarian dialect believing to be from Bactria. Alexander was testing her in different languages, but because of the tradiscope’s abilities, Ashley was able to reply in every language. We believe this may be part of the reason why Alexander kidnapped her. We skip the part where she speaks to the guards to let her pass. She claims to be an oneirocrite, and says she has an important dream to relate to Alexander. The guards announce her, and she enters the tent.
AR: I have come from far away to speak with you, O Mighty King.
Alexander: You can call me Alexander. I dislike titles. Where exactly are you from? I’ve never heard an accent such as yours, and I have traveled widely.
AR: Um…far away. Over the mountains. You wouldn’t know the place.
Alexander: Try me. I like a challenge.
AR: I’d rather talk about you.
Alexander: Not until I’ve heard all about you. You say you’re a oneirocrite – someone who interprets dreams, is that right? So, Where are you from, and what have you dreamt? Here, have a bunch of grapes.
AR: I dreamt you told me why you were conquering the world.
Alexander: Don’t take that bunch – that’s the poisoned bunch I keep in case an enemy comes to call. I’m not interested in conquering the world, I am interested in Greece and Macedonia. I’m heading towards Babylon, where Darius will sue for peace. Did you see my soldiers? Everyone is in awe of me, now that I beat Darius. (Sound of chuckle). You still haven’t told me where you are from.
AR: Uh. I don’t suppose you’ve ever heard of America?
Alexander: Why no! I have not! You do come from a place I’ve never heard of. How amazing. (Sound of someone getting up and pacing. Sound of tent flap moving) The sun has fully risen. Soon I must make my rounds.
AR: Did you just wake up?
Alexander: No. I wake up before dawn. I already have been to see the cooks and the horses, and my generals. You’ll have to come see my horse, he is quite amazing. So, what dream did you have of me again? Something about me conquering the world? I have no wish to do so. You must be a poor oneirocrite – that’s why they chose you to see me – no one else wanted to walk so far, right? Don’t look so downcast. I don’t mind. I don’t believe in that stuff anyhow. Or not much. Birds!*
(*Here Alexander switches from Greek to Persian)
Alexander: I think birds are portents of omens. The other day, a hawk dropped a mouse at my feet. What do you think that means?
AR: I have no idea. Um, look, I hate to insist, but I have some questions for you, if you don’t mind. First-
Alexander: What color is your hair? Why did you shave it all off?
AR: What? Oh, it’s blond. I shaved it because someone told me it was the latest fashion.
Alexander: Someone doesn’t like you very much. It was the fashion a decade ago. Nowadays, all the women wear their hair long.
AR: (Sounds angry) It was the same person who gave me the sandals. (Whispers into the recorder) When I get back, the fashion consultant will have some explaining to do.
Alexander: That’s too bad, because you are a striking woman. Almost as tall as I am. And straight, white teeth.
AR: Please, could we get back to the subject of my questions?
Alexander: A woman with a one-track mind. You remind me of my mother. (Switches to a barbarian dialect).
AR: Your mother?
Alexander: She used to tell me to stop sucking my thumb, so I did it for years. Just to annoy her.
AR: That explains your teeth. You have a slight overbite.
Alexander: I’d like you to explain your gift for languages. No one but my translators speak so many. Are you a spy?
AR: (sounds frightened) No, no, of course not! I just had a few questions for you, about your plans for the future…
Alexander: I told you. I’m going to Babylon, I’ll probably marry one of Darius’s daughters for politics, then I’ll go back to Greece and rule from there. Darius will have to go to Ecbatana, where his mother lives. She’ll keep him out of trouble. I may let my mother rule Bablylon. She’ll like that. And it will keep her out of trouble. She keeps trying to poison people.
AR: Er…that is so, um, completely different from my, er, dream. Are you sure that’s what you plan to do?
Alexander: I already told you. You’re a terrible oneirocrite. But you’d make a good translator.
(Note – the amulet recorder was damaged in the tractor beam from some sort of scuffle. Therefor, no more of Ashley’s interview survived. The Time Senders believe Alexander kidnapped her to become one of his translators. No one can explain the discrepancies between Alexander the Great’s plans for the future as told to Ashley Riverain and what he subsequently did (i.e., go into the heart of Persia and then all the way to India. Why? We may never know. The second time traveler sent back to interview Alexander disappeared as well – his amulet/recorder was not recovered, and Alexander the Great has been classified as a particularly dangerous subject. Idem for his mother.)
Excerpt from “The Road to Alexander”.
‘Oh! There you are!’ cried Alexander, standing up and holding out his arms. ‘I was worried. Did you find your new shoes? Yes, I see you did. The village priest has come to thank you for your sandals. In exchange, he has agreed to forsake all virgin sacrifices. Isn’t that wonderful? Your mother will be thrilled.’
‘I’m sure she will be,’ I said with the utmost truthfulness. Then I went into the tent and collapsed.
Alexander came in to join me about an hour later. He stretched out on the bed next to me and tickled my back until I finally turned to face him.
‘Is it so very difficult?’ he asked me, his face a study in sorrow.
‘Living with mortals. I’m sorry if you’re unhappy. I wasn’t thinking when I snatched you from Hades’ grasp. I thought you wouldn’t want to go back. I admit to being selfish, I wanted to keep you by my side, but I didn’t think of the consequences. Will they be terrible? Will your mother put a curse on me? Is it too late for you to go back?’
I thought about what to say. Alexander folded his arms beneath his chin and waited patiently. Today, his eyes had the candid stare of a lion.
‘I can never go back,’ I said, ‘at least not in your lifetime.’
‘You’re bound to me for my lifetime,’ said Alexander. He said it as if he were pronouncing vows, and I shivered.
‘I did want to go back. But some of it was my fault because part of me wanted to stay here with you, and I was lost because I couldn’t make myself clear.’ I was silent again, watching him. His stare never wavered. ‘My mother will not put a curse on you,’ I said. ‘You will never have to worry about that.’
‘But what about Hades?’ he asked. ‘I’ve cheated him out of a bride.’
‘We won’t have to worry about him either.’
Want to read more? You can buy the book here: