Hope, so they say, springs eternal. It’s the sort of saying you think of when March rolls around and it’s still snowing, but the forsythia is blooming. “I hope spring will come,” you muse, as you shiver by the window. The words hope and spring sort of join naturally, like peanut butter and jelly. I believe myself to be a hopeful person. Naturally I’m naive, I think the best of everyone, and “don’t worry, be happy,” could be tattooed on my forehead (it’s not – no worries). However – and there is always a “however” – I sometimes feel like hiding under my covers and not coming out.
But I always crawl back out. What I’ve noticed about myself is that when things get tough, I tend to stick it out. If I suffer a setback, I get back up, brush myself off, and go back in the ring. I’ve been knocked out more times than you can imagine, but I’m still there. I don’t let rejections or failures stop me from trying. On the contrary – when I fail at something, I usually give it all my attention until I can call it a success. Sometimes that takes years. Sometimes I never make it. That’s all right – it’s the journey that counts.
People ask me all the time – why do you write if you can’t support yourself financially from writing? It’s time wasted – it’s hours spent looking up details in libraries, making outlines, editing, re-editing, reading, and sometimes it’s erasing half of it and starting over. So why do it? I paint too – and I can’t support myself with my art, but I no one asks me why I draw. I guess drawing and painting fall under the hobby category, while writing is considered hard labor. I don’t know – both are equally time-consuming and passionate. I love doing both things. But why do I write? I just got my first month’s sales report, and I think most people would be hanging up their authors’ hats and saying, “which way to the real world, please?” But that’s the problem with us writers – we don’t live in the real world; we live in a world where anything is possible, anything. A woman can sit on a quartz chair and travel in time, be mistaken for Persephone, get kidnapped by Alexander the Great, and have long conversations with Apollo. We can’t hang up our writers’ hats – we don’t live in a real world. And that’s fine by me.
Excerpt from “The Road to Alexander”, when Ashley goes to see an oracle, and ends up talking to Apollo…
‘I see a stranger in our midst,’ the voice came from behind the curtain. ‘Stand! So that I may see you.’
Barsine pushed me roughly to my feet.
‘Will you not ask a question of me?’ asked the mocking voice.
‘No. I don’t believe in you.’
There was a collective gasp from my companions, and Plexis drew in his breath with a hiss.
‘To believe or not to believe, that is not the question.’ The voice was sly again, and teasing. ‘You have come from farther than anyone here can imagine, and you will have the chance to return. However, to return you must sacrifice a human life: one living man. A donkey is just an animal with no soul, but you must kill a man with a soul. I see past the ice in your heart. Didn’t you know?’ There was a dry chuckle. ‘Here is a riddle for the Ice Queen. The king is dead, long live the king.’ A silence greeted these words. We all looked at each other, perplexed.
‘I don’t like riddles,’ I snapped, more angry and miserable than confused.
‘I’d love to stay and chat,’ said the voice, with something very like regret in it. ‘I too have questions to ask that only you may answer. Grant me one, just one, and I will tell you about your son.’
The blood drained from my face and my heart thumped painfully. ‘What do you want to know?’
‘Will my name be remembered? Is my name still on people’s lips?’
‘What do you mean?’ I was confused. What was the old woman’s name anyway? ‘What name?’
‘Apollo. I am here, and I want to know. Answer me, child of the future. Answer me now, for soon I will vanish and the centuries will bury me in their dust.’
At first I thought the woman was talking about herself, but a shiver run down my spine. My head tingled. It can’t be …
‘There are things you will never be able to explain. Just answer me, if you will. Do you know the name Apollo? Have you heard of me once before, perhaps as a whisper? Perhaps in some long, lost song? Do they still sing about me? Answer me … please.’
The voice was plaintive, and for some reason I saw Darius’s tragic face in my mind. The deposed king, a fallen angel. I thought of the Apollo space programme. Tears pricked my eyes. ‘Yes,’ I whispered. ‘Your name is spoken all the way to the moon, but it has nothing to do with you any more.’
There was a deep silence while my words were considered, and then the voice came again, calm and oddly quiet. ‘Well. I suppose I had to ask. Do you see how similar we are? The gods and men.’
(I’d like to thank the people who bought my book, ‘The Road to Alexander”. I hope you enjoyed it! Book II, “Legends of Persia”, will be out in June! Bliss!)