Author Q&A with Jennifer Macaire – Part 3

cropped-mesite1Jennifer Macaire is an expat wife, mother and novelist living in France. The following is Part Three of a trilogy of weekly Q&As that lead up to today’s re-release of her novel The Road to Alexander, Book One of the epic Time for Alexander series of novels. A separate post with an excerpt of the novel follows this sessions as well (link below).


Q: So this book deals with time-travel, typically a device of science-fiction, but that aspect is rather low-key here. For those curious, and without giving too much away, can you describe your creative use of the concept?

Time-travel fascinates me – and not only for this book, but for everyday things. When I drop a glass and it smashes on the floor, I try to imagine it floating back up and coming together like one of those slow-motion films played backward. I wish I could go back and see people I’ve known, redo certain things differently . . . it’s sort of a constant background noise to my life. So it wasn’t a surprise that I made it the backbone of the story. As for the science, I used quartz for the time transmission and lightning for the power. It’s not all that farfetched. Something has to move fast, and our bodies are frail things. In order to time travel, they have to be unraveled and recomposed – my heroine wonders briefly about arriving with her head on backwards, but even our DNA is programmed so that everything will go back to its correct place. Hopefully. Luckily for me, time-travel hasn’t been invented yet, so I can pretty much do as I like. And as the time-sender scientist says dryly to Ashley, “You wouldn’t understand anyway.” My heroine is a journalist, not a scientist, so she has to trust that everything will turn out all right.

Q: I’ve counted over two dozen books published in your oeuvre. All in roughly, what 15 years? And that’s with so many more to come! That’s quite prolific. What’s your secret to staying on task – do you have a daily routine or specific writing regimen when working on a project?

I wish I had a regular writing routine, but I don’t. However, when I get the seed of a story and it germinates, nothing can stop me from writing it. I can write anywhere, anytime. Nothing bothers me – television blaring, kids fighting, dog barking, dinner burning . . . I’ve written through all that and worse to finish a story.

Q: What’s your next project after the release of all seven books in the Time for Alexander series?

I have two or three ideas I’d like to explore. One is a YA book, with as a hero a boy in a wheelchair. I have lots of research to do in order to start writing it, however. Another idea I had is another time-travel book, this time with a male protagonist who finds himself in the Asian steppes with a Scythian princess. I’m counting on an archeologist/anthropologist friend of mine to help out with it.

Q: I’ll let you go with this last question about the novel you’re releasing TODAY. Book One ends with a scene between our heroine Ashley and the man himself, Alexander The Great, on a quiet yet ominous note, a kind of calm before a coming storm. Can you give us a tease of the first sequel in the series after The Road to Alexander?

In Book Two: Legends of Persia, Alexander is on the most dangerous and difficult part of his fight to recapture the crown. It was a hard book to write, because I tried as much as possible to keep the timetable of his actual battles and travels around Persia. I did, however, take liberties with history. His time-travelling wife, Ashley, knows when he will die, but she doesn’t dare do anything to change things. She hasn’t yet made the decision to save him, so she just tries to savor each instant and live her life with Alexander to the fullest. The book takes Alexander’s army across the mountains and rivers of ancient Bactria. One of my favorite parts is just when the army reaches the top of the pass through the mountains:

Some men were afraid to venture over the rise, believing that the ends of the earth were right there. Even Alexander, whose unquenchable enthusiasm for adventure had led him this far, seemed unsure of himself. He wrapped his arm around his stallion’s neck, and together they walked towards the summit. We stood back. It seemed fitting.

The two figures stood silhouetted against the monstrous sky. The sun was just starting to set, and the rising moon shone on the opposite horizon. It seemed as if he were alone on the top of the earth with only his horse, the sun, and the moon for company. Then he turned to face us, and he raised both arms in triumph. The way was clear. He’d gotten through. The road to Bactria was open. We poured through the pass in a trickle, then a rush as the men hurried to see the marvels that were beyond the mountains.

I was disappointed. It looked like the same road we’d taken, only downhill – but it was downhill, and the rest of the march was made singing. We sang although we were starving. No one had eaten in two days. The meat was gone, the grain and bread were gone, the onions and garlic were gone, and the soldiers chewed whatever edible plants they could find to assuage their hunger. We had no more water, and our pack animals groaned and staggered, but none fell. Perhaps they scented the grass in the fertile valleys around the Kunduz.

We made camp by nightfall. We were ankle-deep in grass. The next day we were knee-deep, and by evening there were fires, and a real camp was being built on the banks of a fast moving mountain brook.

~ (bonus excerpt from Book Two: Legends of Persia, out later this year) ~

And there you have it. This concludes the author Q&A leading up to today’s release of The Road to Alexander from Accent PressNow read the third and final excerpt here. And be sure to check the book out via these handy links: (US) (UK).


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~ About the Author ~

Jennifer Macaire is an American living in Paris. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories. Her short stories have been published by Three Rivers Press, Nothing But Red, The Bear Deluxe, and The Vestal Review, among others. One of her short stories was nominated for the Push Cart Prize (Honey on Your Skin) and is now being made into a film. Her short story ‘There be Gheckos’ won the Harper Collins /3 AM flash fiction prize.


ICYMI

Author Q&A with Jennifer Macaire – Part 1

The Road to Alexander – 1st Excerpt | Jennifer Macaire

Author Q&A with Jennifer Macaire – Part 2

The Road to Alexander – 2nd Excerpt | Jennifer Macaire

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Author Q&A with Jennifer Macaire – Part 2

cropped-mesite1Jennifer Macaire is an expat wife, mother and novelist living in France. The following is Part Two of a trilogy of weekly Q&As leading up to the March 9th re-release of her novel The Road to Alexander, Book One of the epic Time for Alexander series of novels. A separate post with an excerpt of the novel will follow each of these sessions as well.


Q: For this book you use a first-person viewpoint. What narrative advantages as well as challenges did that present you with this particular story?

I started this as a short story – otherwise I’m not sure I would have used first person viewpoint, but once I got started, and the story started to develop, it made sense to continue. It gave a more personal touch to the story. I think it connects the reader to the main character in a way that is coherent with the theme of the tale – that of an outsider looking in. Since Ashley is so far removed from the mindset of the people at the time, it gave me a little more freedom to be creative. I didn’t have to worry about justifying or explaining something that I (as a modern woman) could not possibly understand. Ashley has a hard time with slavery, with war (no Geneva conventions in those days) and religion, for example, so it was more fun to be in her head looking out than trying to pretend to be someone from ancient Persia or Greece.

Q: I know you’re a voracious reader. Can you tell us what authors have had the biggest influence on you in recent years?

In recent years, I’d have to say Neil Gaiman – I was a latecomer to his books; my daughter actually got hooked on him first. Also Diana Norman, both her books and the ones she wrote as Ariana Franklin. She was an amazing historical fiction writer.  But I’m not sure my writing style has changed much because of them. I think my style is pretty much set. The writers who I feel truly influenced me were: (in chronological order, no less!) Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, and Dorothy Dunnett.

Q: Does being an expatriated American residing for so many years in France give you a unique perspective as a story-maker and writer?

Maybe for writing history, lol. I feel surrounded by it here, it’s all over. I go downtown, and there are ruins and towers from the middle ages, and there are even Roman ruins, traces of the Gauls, museums and such everywhere. It’s nice. It was also fun to go to Rome, see the places where I’d set some of the story in my books. And there is an ancient Greek nymphorium near my town, where the people of the time worshipped at a sacred spring. My spellcheck keeps telling me nymphorium doesn’t exist – but I hesitate to call it a temple, since I don’t think nymphs were worshipped in temples. Ah well, there I go being pedantic again. But if you want, you can see a picture of it here:

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Q&A to be continued next Thursday, March 9th . . . and now read the second (of three) excerpts of The Road to Alexander here.


~ About the Author ~

Jennifer Macaire is an American living in Paris. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories. Her short stories have been published by Three Rivers Press, Nothing But Red, The Bear Deluxe, and The Vestal Review, among others. One of her short stories was nominated for the Push Cart Prize (Honey on Your Skin) and is now being made into a film. Her short story ‘There be Gheckos’ won the Harper Collins /3 AM flash fiction prize.


ICYMI

Author Q&A with Jennifer Macaire – Part 1

The Road to Alexander – 1st Excerpt | Jennifer Macaire

Author Q&A with Jennifer Macaire – Part 1

cropped-mesite1Jennifer Macaire is an expat wife, mother and novelist living in France. The following is Part One of a trilogy of weekly Q&As leading up to the March 9th re-release of her novel The Road to Alexander, Book One of the epic Time for Alexander series of novels. A separate post with an excerpt of the novel will follow each of these sessions as well.


Hello, Jennifer! I suppose in introducing you I should start with the fact that I have known you, my fellow scribe, for over fifteen years now and I’m amazed at the literary trail you’ve blazed the last decade-and-a-half in rather prolific fashion with more than two dozen novels (and countless short stories) published. And so here I welcome you, my dear friend abroad, to chat about your latest publishing event. 

Hi Brandon, thank you for having me as a guest blogger to talk about my upcoming book The Road to Alexander, the first in a series about a time traveler who is sent back to interview Alexander the Great. He mistakes her for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her, stranding her in his time.

Q: First question for you – What inspired you to write this epic story about Alexander the Great?

A: It started out as a short story – I had been writing and selling short stories to magazines, and I just had an idea of a sort of alternate history short story where Alexander the Great is never bitten by the mosquito that caused his fatal malaria. I wrote it from the viewpoint of a woman time-traveler/journalist, but when I came to the part where she slaps the mosquito away…I just kept going. In fact, I kept going for seven novels which became the Time for Alexander series. In the first book, The Road to Alexander, I even left the part about the mosquito, and you can catch it if you’re paying attention although it’s no longer important to the plot. I ended up shifting everything around, because he dies in Babylon and I needed to introduce the time-traveling character at the beginning of his great adventure.

Q: What type of research did you have to do for your book?

A: I researched extensively. I used several books on Alexander the Great, including In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, by Michael Wood, which was produced by the BBC. It was extremely helpful, because the author literally took the path Alexander’s army took across Persia and Bactria on foot. The book was indispensable for calculating how long it took to get from one place to another. More research was done on the army, how it moved, who was in it, and how Alexander fought his battles. Still more was for daily rituals: food, medicine, clothes, money, toothpaste, and religious ceremonies. I researched constantly – every time I had a question I’d either write to an expert or hit the library and search out books. I’m not big on Internet research, it’s too hard to verify facts, but I did use the Internet to put myself in touch with authors and historians. Everyone was very helpful, and I learned a great deal about ancient Greece and Rome!

Q: Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

A: I am a plotter and use outlines. I’ve written a couple books just “going with the flow”, but they took forever to finish because I kept getting distracted. I much prefer a chapter-by-chapter outline. This book had to be plotted out using existing people and historical events, the army’s movements, and take into account the seasons and weather, so it was vital to have a strong outline. Within that framework I took many liberties. One of the tricks of writing historical fiction is to keep real events pinned to their place and time. I had to move some of the characters around – I had one of Alexander’s generals interacting directly with Alexander when most historians agree he was back in Macedonia – but I needed him there, so thanks to the wonders of fiction, there he was! It is a work of fiction, after all!

Q&A to be continued next Thursday, March 2nd . . . and now read the first (of three) excerpts here.


new-release


~ About the Author ~

Jennifer Macaire is an American living in Paris. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories. Her short stories have been published by Three Rivers Press, Nothing But Red, The Bear Deluxe, and The Vestal Review, among others. One of her short stories was nominated for the Push Cart Prize (Honey on Your Skin) and is now being made into a film. Her short story ‘There be Gheckos’ won the Harper Collins /3 AM flash fiction prize.


ICYMI

Jennifer Macaire on Patience + Writing

Now Reading: The Road to Alexander

~ Bookworm Ruckus | 2.19.17 ~

Something I’ve always dug is alternate history. That’s exactly what my friend Jennifer Macaire’s Time for Alexander series of novels is — a time-traveling trip through an altered history in which a modern  woman from our time becomes the object of Alexander the Great’s affections.

Book One in the series, The Road to Alexander is the first to be remastered and reissued digitally worldwide on March 9th, via Accent Press. Available for pre-order now. (US) (UK)

I’ve invited Mrs. Macaire to chat about and share excerpts of this intriguing novel here on the blog, so make sure to be on the lookout for that later this week on Thursday.

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Lifebook 11 | Local Heroes . . . 5 Years Later

So this past week, November 22nd, to be precise, marked the five year anniversary of the publication of the first ever physical book to bear my byline on the cover (as editor/compiler). Local Heroes was a small anthology conceived, compiled and edited by yours truly and published by now defunct small press publisher Static Movement (with an assist by the also now defunct publisher Pill Hill Press and Amazon).

As the proud compiler of this anthology I somehow managed to select some exceptional work from my fellow scribes. As noted in the introduction, the sequencing of the pieces  (24 in total, including one by me) was a tough task not unlike that of a DJ deciding which songs to get the party jumping and keep it rocking throughout.

As stated in my introduction, I had to go with the three stories that emotionally impacted me the most as the lead-off trinity. “Virtual Memory” by Bob Eccles (known more for his horror stories), was a sci-fi story with so much heart (break) that I did become a little misty-eyed when reading it, which doesn’t really happen when I’m reading short fiction. I believe that story went on to win an award of some kind (I just can’t remember which).

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The second piece, “Football and Faith” by Kevin Wallis, also pulled on my heartstrings a bit.

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And then “In the Eye of the Beholder” used a game of baseball to tell a very touching coming-of-age tale that gripped me immediately.

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There were several military stories that tackled heroism in their own unique ways. Guardian angels also had a strong presence, as well as what can only be described as, well,  ‘local heroes’. 

For the theme of Local Heroes alone makes it an important book, so I’m happy and proud to’ve helped bring it into the world, even if for only a small press print run. 

Today I think the theme of local heroes is a very timely one, all things considered. I’d love to do a sequel someday.