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Feature: Daughters of the Nile (Cleopatra's Daughter 3) by Stephanie Dray - December 4, 2013

Today I'm a highlighting an historical fantasy series by Stephanie Dray about Cleopatra Selene, the real daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. I've really enjoyed the first two books in the Cleopatra's Daughter series for their blend of history and magic as well as the strong female main character. Cleopatra Selene is an extremely interesting historical figure. Daughters of the Nile, the 3rd novel in the series, was published yesterday and I can't wait to read it.



Feature: Daughters of the Nile (Cleopatra's Daughter 3) by Stephanie Dray - December 4, 2013



Daughters of the Nile
Cleopatra's Daughter 3
Berkley, December 3, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 576 pages

Feature: Daughters of the Nile (Cleopatra's Daughter 3) by Stephanie Dray - December 4, 2013
Based on the true story of Cleopatra’s daughter…

After years of abuse as the emperor’s captive in Rome, Cleopatra Selene has found a safe harbor. No longer the pitiful orphaned daughter of the despised Egyptian Whore, the twenty year old is now the most powerful queen in the empire, ruling over the kingdom of Mauretania—an exotic land of enchanting possibility where she intends to revive her dynasty.

With her husband, King Juba II and the magic of Isis that is her birthright, Selene brings prosperity and peace to a kingdom thirsty for both. But when Augustus Caesar jealously demands that Selene’s children be given over to him to be fostered in Rome, she’s drawn back into the web of imperial plots and intrigues that she vowed to leave behind.

Determined and resourceful, Selene must shield her loved ones from the emperor’s wrath, all while vying with ruthless rivals like King Herod. Can she find a way to overcome the threat to her marriage, her kingdom, her family, and her faith? Or will she be the last of her line?


An excerpt from Daughters of the Nile:

Below me, six black Egyptian cobras dance on their tails, swaying. I watch their scaled hoods spread wide like the uraeus on the crown of Egypt. Even from this height, I'm paralyzed by the sight of the asps, their forked tongues flickering out between deadly fangs. I don't notice that I'm gripping the balustrade until my knuckles have gone white, all my effort concentrated upon not swooning and falling to my death.

And I would swoon if I were not so filled with rage. Someone has arranged for this. Someone who knows what haunts me. Someone who wants to send me a message and make this occasion a moment of dread. My husband, the king must know it, for he calls down, "That's enough. We've seen enough of the snake charmer!"

There is commotion below, some upset at having displeased us. Then Chryssa hisses, "Who could think it a good idea to honor the daughter of Cleopatra by coaxing asps from baskets of figs?"

The story the world tells of my mother's suicide is that she cheated the emperor of his conquest by plunging her hand into a basket where a venomous serpent lay in wait. A legend only, some say, for the serpent was never found. But I was there. I brought her that basket. She was the one bitten but the poison lingers in my blood to this day. I can still remember the scent of figs in my nostrils, lush and sweet. The dark god Anubis was embroidered into the woven reeds of the basket, the weight of death heavy in my arms. I can still see my mother reach her hand into that basket, surrendering her life so that her children might go on without her. And I have gone on without her.

I have survived too much to be terrorized by the emperor's agents or whoever else is responsible for this.

If it is a message, a warning from my enemies, I have already allowed them too much of a victory by showing any reaction at all. So I adopt as serene a mask as possible. My daughter blinks her big blue eyes, seeing past my facade. "Are you frightened, Mother? They cannot bite us from there. The snakes are very far away."

I get my legs under me, bitterness on my tongue. "Oh, but they're never far enough away."




Previously in the Cleopatra's Daughter Series

Lily of the Nile
Cleopatra's Daughter 1
Berkley, January 4, 2011
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Feature: Daughters of the Nile (Cleopatra's Daughter 3) by Stephanie Dray - December 4, 2013
Heiress of one empire and prisoner of another, it is up to the daughter of Cleopatra to save her brothers and reclaim what is rightfully hers...

To Isis worshippers, Princess Selene and her twin brother Helios embody the divine celestial pair who will bring about a Golden Age. But when Selene's parents are vanquished by Rome, her auspicious birth becomes a curse. Trapped in an empire that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, the young messianic princess struggles for survival in a Roman court of intrigue. She can't hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her hands, nor can she stop the emperor from using her powers for his own ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined to resurrect her mother's dreams. Can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win-or die?


Song of the Nile
Cleopatra's Daughter 2
Berkley, October 4, 2011
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Feature: Daughters of the Nile (Cleopatra's Daughter 3) by Stephanie Dray - December 4, 2013
Sorceress. Seductress. Schemer. Cleopatra's daughter is the one woman with the power to destroy an empire...

Having survived her perilous childhood as a royal captive of Rome, Selene pledged her loyalty to Augustus and swore she would become his very own Cleopatra. Now the young queen faces an uncertain destiny in a foreign land.

The magic of Isis flowing through her veins is what makes her indispensable to the emperor. Against a backdrop of imperial politics and religious persecution, Cleopatra's daughter beguiles her way to the very precipice of power. She has never forgotten her birthright, but will the price of her mother's throne be more than she's willing to pay?




About Stephanie

Feature: Daughters of the Nile (Cleopatra's Daughter 3) by Stephanie Dray - December 4, 2013
STEPHANIE DRAY is a bestselling, multi-published, award-winning author of historical women’s fiction and fantasy set in the ancient world. Her critically acclaimed historical series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into more than six different languages, was nominated for a RITA Award and won the Golden Leaf. Her focus on Ptolemaic Egypt and Augustan Age Rome has given her a unique perspective on the consequences of Egypt's ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has-to the consternation of her devoted husband-collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.



Facebook  ~  Twitter @stephaniehdray  ~  Website

Winners x 4 - October 8, 2011

And the winners are....

No Proper Lady by Isabel Cooper (2 copies)

Winners x 4 - October 8, 2011

The Question:  If you were time traveling to the past, what is the one thing you would absolutely want to bring with you?

Scorpio1974 who said...
I don't know what I would take to travel back to the past. Maybe my laptop and hope it worked, lol!

and

Laura H. who said...
Thanks for the giveaway! The one "thing" I would absolutely want to bring with me is toilet paper!


Winners x 4 - October 8, 2011


The Darkest Surrender (Lords of the Underworld) by Gena Showalter

Winners x 4 - October 8, 2011

The Question:  What is your favorite book by Gena or which of her books are looking forward to the most?

Barbara who said...
OMG...I LOVE Gena's books! Especially the Lords. I even have their butterfly tattooed on my left foot, no lie! So, you will understand when I tell you that it's tough to choose a favorite. I CAN tell you that I'm looking forward to reading about Paris, William and Torin...and Dallas (from Alien Huntress)...and the new Royal House of Shadows series has me waiting breathlessly too! I could go on and on and on....


Winners x 4 - October 8, 2011


The Immorality Engine (Newbury & Hobbes Investigation 3) by George Mann

Winners x 4 - October 8, 2011

The Question:  Which cover of The Immorality Engine do you like better?

Sheree who said...
I prefer the US version. The UK version seems too busy even if it has Queen Victoria on it.


Winners x 4 - October 8, 2011


Song of the Nile (Cleopatra's Daughter 2) by Stephanie Dray

Winners x 4 - October 8, 2011

The Question:  Who is your favorite historical person?

Sabrina who said...
One of the historical figures that I find very fascinating is Belisarius, the Byzantine General. Reading about his campaigns got me interested in the Byzantine empire.


Winners x 4 - October 8, 2011


The winners have been notified and have until 11:59 PM on Saturday, October 15, 2011 to respond or The Qwillery will very randomly choose a new winner or winners.

Guest Blog by Stephanie Dray and Giveaway - September 30, 2011

Does Historical Fiction Glorify Sexism, Racism and Class Discrimination?
by
Stephanie Dray
September 21, 2011

I write books set in the early Roman empire, a time during which a lot of horrible things were accepted as commonplace. Slavery was a normal part of life. Social class was enshrined into law. Women were sexual chattel, often without a say in their own lives and without representation in government. Human beings were forced to battle to the death in an arena for the entertainment of others.

In short, life wasn’t pretty.

In spite of this, people in the early Roman empire weren’t all that different than we are. Their aims for their lives have remarkable resonance with our own. They wanted to honor their forefathers. They wanted greater security and prosperity for their children. They were patriots. They believed in some forms of social mobility. They built beautiful things that are still a wonder to our eyes. They created governmental and public programs that worked more smoothly in some cases than our own. In short, they tried to instill a sense of order into the chaos of the world around them. They survived and thrived and bequeathed to us a wealth of knowledge without which we would be much poorer as a civilization.

So how to handle their portrayal in a fictional novel? Does one make the Romans out to be fascist monsters? (Certainly, that’s how my heroine sees them at first.) Does one take a stance of moral relativism and present them without censure and perhaps with a glow of rosy admiration? (Colleen McCoullough seems to take this approach.) Does one use humor to deflect readers’ discomfort in reading about such a ruthless way of life? (John Maddox Roberts seems to have gone this route.)

Or does one simply trust the reader to know that a portrayal of history is not an endorsement of it?

Until recently, I’d have thought it was understood that just because an author writes about something horrible doesn’t mean he or she is encouraging it. We do all understand that horror and thriller writers aren’t advocating murdering people, right? But it seems as if historical fiction and fantasy writers aren’t always given the same benefit of the doubt.

I’ve seen a bizarre slew of criticism lately, ranging from one author being accused of bigotry for writing from the viewpoint of a character with a documented distaste for Jews to another author being panned for her ancient heroine being insufficiently appalled by the institution of slavery.

Now, I’m all about reading the subtext and thinking critically about what a book’s true message is. I understand that an author can inadvertently write a body of work, the underlying theme of which makes you question the author’s values. (The combination of Frank Miller’s Sin City and 300 comes to mind.)

That said, some genuine effort at giving a fair reading to the author’s motives ought to be made before announcing, say, that George R. R. Martin is creepy. (I know. Martin isn’t a historical fiction novelist, but his fantasy is loosely based on the historical War of the Roses, so the reaction to his work is still relevant here.)

So why do historical fiction writers choose to revisit the past when it was a nearly unrelenting march of injustice, sexism, racism, and just about every other bad -ism you can think of?

My own primary motivation in writing historical fiction is to use it as a mirror to hold up against contemporary society. I want my readers to look at the ancient world and compare it to the world in which we live today. I want my readers to realize how far we have come. I also want my readers to realize that the progress of women’s liberation is not a straight line. There have been setbacks in the ancient past and there will likely be setbacks in the future against which we ought to be wary. I want my readers to compare the political propaganda we hear in the news today to the kind that was spewed by Augustus.

This is my intent. And yet, I realize that sometimes my intent is not conveyed. This may be because I’m not talented enough. It may also be because every reader carries their own baggage. Every reader’s experience of my novel is going to be unique to them. They are going to tend to see in it things that conform to their own world view.

But if their world view is that writers never write about the depravity of history unless it’s out of a creepy sense of wish-fulfillment, then their world view is spectacularly ill-informed.

Oh, I’m sure there are Civil War writers who really wish that slavery had never been abolished. (Newt Gingrich comes to mind.) I’m sure there are horror writers who use the therapy of putting pen to paper to keep them from sacrificing babies to Satan. I’m sure of it because given a large enough population of people, you will always find some percentage of sociopaths and freaks. However, since it’s very clear that those people are a deviation from the norm, why don’t we just assume that writers of fiction have some other more benevolent reason for writing about evil?

(Also, isn’t it worse to air-brush over the horrors of the past as if the world was so much better back then?)

Some authors write historical fiction for the same reason I do. Others write it because they have an obsession with documenting little known facts. Still others wish to put a human face onto an obscure time period. So they write about all the awful things people did back then. They don’t generally write about it because they want their audience members to pine longingly for the day when kings ruled absolutely and could behead their wives.

I’ve heard it argued that some readers do romanticize that past and wish to return to the glory days when women, peasants and brown people knew their place. This is horrifying, but the fact that lunatics and losers might read the wrong thing into a fictional novel has never been, to my mind, any real criticism against that novel.


About the Novels of Cleopatra's Daughter

Song of the Nile
Cleopatra's Daughter 2
Berkley Trade, October 4, 2011
Guest Blog by Stephanie Dray and Giveaway - September 30, 2011
Sorceress. Seductress. Schemer. Cleopatra’s daughter has become the emperor’s most unlikely apprentice and the one woman who can destroy his empire…

Having survived her perilous childhood as a royal captive of Rome, Selene pledged her loyalty to Augustus and swore she would become his very own Cleopatra. Now the young queen faces an uncertain destiny in a foreign land.

Forced to marry a man of the emperor’s choosing, Selene will not allow her new husband to rule in her name. She quickly establishes herself as a capable leader in her own right and as a religious icon. Beginning the hard work of building a new nation, she wins the love of her new subjects and makes herself vital to Rome by bringing forth bountiful harvests.

But it’s the magic of Isis flowing through her veins that makes her indispensable to the emperor. Against a backdrop of imperial politics and religious persecution, Cleopatra’s daughter beguiles her way to the very precipice of power. She has never forgotten her birthright, but will the price of her mother’s throne be more than she’s willing to pay?


Lily of the Nile
Cleopatra's Daughter 1
Berkley Trade,  January 4, 2011
Guest Blog by Stephanie Dray and Giveaway - September 30, 2011
Heiress of one empire and prisoner of another, it is up to the daughter of Cleopatra to save her brothers and reclaim what is rightfully hers...

To Isis worshippers, Princess Selene and her twin brother Helios embody the divine celestial pair who will bring about a Golden Age. But when Selene's parents are vanquished by Rome, her auspicious birth becomes a curse. Trapped in an empire that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, the young messianic princess struggles for survival in a Roman court of intrigue. She can't hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her hands, nor can she stop the emperor from using her powers for his own ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined to resurrect her mother's dreams. Can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win-or die?



About Stephanie

Guest Blog by Stephanie Dray and Giveaway - September 30, 2011
Stephanie graduated from Smith, a small women’s college in Massachusetts where–to the consternation of her devoted professors–she was unable to master Latin. However, her focus on Middle Eastern Studies gave her a deeper understanding of the consequences of Egypt’s ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion.

Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has–to the consternation of her devoted husband–collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.


Stephanie's Links

Join Stephanie's newsletter
Facebook
Twitter
Website



The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a copy of Song of the Nile from Stephanie. (US/ Canada mailing addresses only)

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Who is your favorite historical person? 

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Friday, October 7, 2011. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Interview with Stephanie Dray - November 18, 2010

Please welcome author Stephanie Dray to The Qwillery.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Stephanie:  I suppose it’s that endings are difficult to me. I hate writing them. Maybe it’s because I don’t ever want to say goodbye to the characters that I love so much or maybe it’s because I want to make certain that my ending has resonance with my beginning. But I’m always happiest at the beginning of a novel than at the end!

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Stephanie:  Some of my favorite writers from the fantasy world are George R. R. Martin and Robin Hobb. Some of my favorites from the historical fiction side are Margaret George, Philippa Gregory, and Susan Fraser King. Truthfully, I’ve been influenced by all these writers. With respect to writing Lily of the Nile, however, I was heavily influenced by Beatrice Chanler, whose book about Cleopatra Selene led me to re-imagine the religious side of her story in a more modern way.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a panster?

Stephanie:  I’ve increasingly become a plotter, both because I get paid for turning in outlines and proposals and because the planning of a story is quite a bit of fun! With Lily of the Nile, I spent a lot of time re-writing because the work evolved from an alternative history into something that hewed close to history and injected magic realism into the mix.

TQ: Lily of the Nile is the story of Princess Selene, the daughter of Cleopatra and Marc Antony. Why did you choose Princess Selene for your debut historical fantasy?

Stephanie:  I think she chose me. I’m not normally one of those writers who ramble about their muse or talk about how their characters speak to them. However, when it comes to Selene, I truly was inspired. I was trying to write a different book--an alternative history about how the world might have been different if Selene’s brother Caesarion had lived. But Selene kept interrupting my thoughts in first person narrative--something that’s never happened to me before or since.

The more I learned about her life as an orphan, a prisoner of Rome, and a queen in her own right, the more her story touched me, and the more I wanted to memorialize her. Selene isn’t one of the bad girls of history, but she deserves to be remembered.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Lily of the Nile?

Stephanie:  First, I read every fictional account of her life that I could find. Then I went back and studied all the ancient sources and scholarly books about Selene’s life, the most important of these being Duane W. Roller’s The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene. After that, it was clear that Selene’s story was indistinguishable from the story of Augustus and I set out to learn everything I could about Rome’s first emperor, his family, and his fate. I’m always looking for an opportunity to visit Rome, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, so I guess I’ve never stopped researching this period.

TQ:  How important is historical accuracy when melding history and fantasy?

Stephanie:  History matters a great deal to me. For the sequel to Lily of the Nile, I considered fermented rotting shellfish in my backyard to reproduce the recipe for imperial purple dye. But as a novelist, I acknowledge that my first duty is always to the novel. Magic was real for the Egyptians and the Romans, so it is real in my book. If I must slip the timeline a bit so that my protagonist is at the center of documented events, I’ll do it and note it in my Author’s Note at the end of the book. I’m acutely aware that I am not a biographer and I would be happier if other authors were similarly honest about their work.

TQ:  If you could dine with three people from the past who would they be and why?

Stephanie:  Oh, what a delicious question. I’d certainly choose to dine with Cleopatra Selene and Juba II and learn all about their life together; all the things that were never recorded. I’m also fascinated by Thomas Jefferson. I’d be quite honored to just listen to him ramble on about anything he chose, though I might be frightened to tell him what’s happened to the country he helped build.

TQ:  What's next?

Stephanie:  This year will start out with the release of LILY OF THE NILE and the sequel, SONG OF THE NILE will follow in the autumn. I’m really excited about having these books come out one right after the other because I think they tell an inspiring tale about Selene’s journey from the helpless captive of Rome to the most powerful client queen in the empire.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Stephanie:  Thank you so much for having me!


About Stephanie's Book

Interview with Stephanie Dray - November 18, 2010
Lily of the Nile
A Novel of Cleopatra's Daughter

Publication Date: January 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Format: Paperback , 368pp
ISBN-13: 9780425238554
ISBN: 0425238555

Heiress of one empire and prisoner of another, it is up to the daughter of Cleopatra to save her brothers and reclaim what is rightfully hers...
 
To Isis worshippers, Princess Selene and her twin brother Helios embody the divine celestial pair who will bring about a Golden Age. But when Selene's parents are vanquished by Rome, her auspicious birth becomes a curse. Trapped in an empire that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, the young messianic princess struggles for survival in a Roman court of intrigue. She can't hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her hands, nor can she stop the emperor from using her powers for his own ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined to resurrect her mother's dreams. Can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win-or die?
 
From Penguin Group (USA)


About Stephanie
 
Interview with Stephanie Dray - November 18, 2010
After graduating from law school, Stephanie Dray came to her senses and returned to her first love: storytelling. Using the transformative power of magic realism, she tells the stories of women in history so as to inspire the young women of today. Stephanie remains fascinated by all things ancient and has--to the consternation of her devoted husband--collected a house full of cats and Egyptian artifacts.



Stephanie's Links:

Website:  http://www.stephaniedray.com/

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/stephaniehdray
Feature: Daughters of the Nile (Cleopatra's Daughter 3) by Stephanie Dray - December 4, 2013Winners x 4 - October 8, 2011Guest Blog by Stephanie Dray and Giveaway - September 30, 2011Interview with Stephanie Dray - November 18, 2010

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