June 2023 Author Interview
Antonius: Son of Rome
By Brook Allen
Theme: Heroes and Anti-Heroes
Author Bio: In researching the Antonius Trilogy, Brook’s travels led her to Italy, Egypt, Greece, and even Turkey to explore places where Antony once lived, fought, and eventually, died. While researching abroad, she consulted scholars and archaeologists well-versed in Hellenistic and Roman history, specifically pinpointing the late Republican Period in Rome. Brook belongs to the Historical Novel Society and attends conferences as often as possible to study craft and meet fellow authors. Though she graduated from Asbury University with a B.A. in Music Education, Brook has always loved writing. She completed a Masters program at Hollins University with an emphasis in Ancient Roman studies, which prepared her for authoring The Antonius Trilogy.
Presently, Brook is working on a much different work, closer to home. It will feature the story of Julia Clark, explorer William Clark's first wife, as she lives through the turbulent period of the Louisiana Purchase, the death of Meriwether Lewis, and most importantly, the work leading to the publishing of the Lewis & Clark Journals.
Brook teaches full-time as a Music Educator and works in a rural public-school district near Roanoke, Virginia. Her personal interests include travel, cycling, hiking in the woods, reading, and spending downtime with her husband and amazing dog, Jak. She lives in the heart of southwest Virginia in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains.
More about Brook: https://www.brookallenauthor.com/
Book: Antonius: Son of Rome
Brook’s award-winning novel is the ﬁrst installment in a trilogy about the life of Marcus Antonius. More popularly known as Marc Anthony, many books have been written about him but none is probably more introspective than Brook Allen's compelling trilogy. One of history's most controversial ﬁgures, Marc Anthony's life seems like an open book, but it is largely based on accounts written by his enemies. Allen's book, however, is an objective and microscopic look at the early life of Rome's iconic symbol of love and power.
Review: Margaret George, Author
The novel covers all aspects of his life---his immediate family, his failings, disappointments, and the triumph of being given the opportunity to show his military genius. At the same time---and history bears this out---he was from the beginning a kind and generous person, slow to anger but impulsive in his decisions, although those were destructive to himself rather than anyone else, as cruelty was not in his nature---a rare trait in his environment.
Look for these themes in the excerpt below:
· Clues to Mark Anthony’s character
· Foreshadowing his future
· His strengths and vulnerabilities – that make him a true anti-hero
At eighteen years of age, Marcus was already showing signs of the man he would become…
CROWDS OF MEN JOSTLED FOR SPACE AT THE GAMING tables. Curio and Marcus were hosting a night of iactus, every Roman’s favorite dice game. Word got out, then someone told some merchants down at the Tiber docks. By nightfall, nearly a hundred men of varied status had crowded into the Suburan club. Each was laden with coin enough to drink and play the night away.
Marcus sat at a table facing three merchants. Eyes closed, he shook his dice around in a little wooden cup, hoping for better luck. Lentulus had given him a good start of three hundred with which to enjoy himself earlier in the week. The night started well. He’d gained five hundred denarii, totaling a purse of eight hundred. But in the last few rounds, he’d lost almost everything. Now he was down to a sad little hundred.
One more loss meant forfeiting the entire night.
He threw his dice on the table, hearing them clatter and bounce to a stop. Slowly, he opened his eyes, afraid of what he’d see.
One two, two threes, a four, and a five.
Gods. How awful. So far he’d claimed a coin token and two dogs. He was harboring hopes of regaining some of his losses. But the coveted Venus—five sixes—was playing hard to get.
Opposite him sat the three players who’d won nearly all his coin. They were grinning like a pack of hyenas. None of them had as many tokens as he, but they each had a lot more coin. When it came to playing iactus, silver and gold meant lasting power. For Marcus, the evening would soon be over unless things turned around in three more throws.
Curio lounged at his elbow with a cup of wine in hand. Taking a swig, he suggested, “Promise something to Fortuna. Maybe she’ll help.”
Marcus snorted. He harbored little faith in Fortuna. For luck, he plopped his dice back into the cup and breathed on them. At his toss, the dice clattered out a second time.
One six, two fives, and two ones. Damn.
“Well, at least you’re on your way now,” Curio whispered near his ear. Marcus edged away from him. Curio had a nasty habit of invading his space in a way that reminded him of Lupus.
Marcus picked up all the dice except the single six. A gain of four more sixes would win the game, but the odds of that happening in two rolls were slim.
He glanced over at the hyenas as he shook his cup. The oldest had a girl sitting on his knee. Her mouth was at his ear, and whatever she was saying had him smiling. One of the other two farted loudly, and his friend burst out laughing.
Suddenly, another man strolled up to his other side. Marcus eyed him. Dressed expensively but gaudily, bald, hook-nosed, short, and squat. He gave Marcus a courteous nod. Marcus’s response was a cough, gagging on the newcomer’s heavy perfume.
He rolled for the third time. Two fours, one three, and another six. He needed that Venus, so he kept the second six, gathering up the other three dice.
One more roll…
Chewing his lip, he tossed a final time.
It was downright painful. Marcus groaned. Two ones, a five, and two sixes. He’d missed the Venus by only one six. That hurt worse than not having any.
Disgusted, he shook his head, preparing to leave the table with nothing but an empty purse. But the perfumed stranger next to him spoke up, his Latin tinged with a Greek accent. “Gentlemen, I’m making this young man a gift of three hundred denarii.”
Marcus stared at the newcomer in amazement. The offered gift was kind, but Marcus didn’t know him. Kindness was something for which Rome wasn’t known. Curio was swift to move closer and whisper an explanation in his ear, “He’s Callias, a big creditor with a shop down in the Forum and an expensive domus on the Esquiline. He used to handle all of Clodius’s business.”
Marcus asked, “And yours too?”
“Used to. Right now I’ve got debt running out of my arse like diarrhea.”
Marcus snorted at Curio’s crudeness, then responded to Callias. “Thank you, sir. But what’s your rate? I can’t afford much tonight.”
“No worries,” Callias replied. “It’s a gift. May it earn your future business.”
Most men had creditors. Marcus knew Lentulus dealt with someone, but he wasn’t sure who. Some were shady characters. “Gratias, then. I’ll visit you next time I need coin.”
Sadly, Callias’s gift didn’t impress fickle Fortuna. The only thing Marcus ended up with was his good looks. At least Metinara and her friend, Serapia, saw value in that.
Marcus left the table. He and the two women disappeared into one of the brothel’s cubicula to reverse his losses.