We’re so pleased to welcome author Alex Beecroft today on the tour for her latest novel, Labyrinth. Enjoy Alex’s guest post and then be sure to check out the giveaway details below.
Why on earth, when faced with all human history, did I choose to write about the Ancient Minoans? Historical novellas, as you know, tend to cluster into similar eras of interest, leaving vast swathes of the past untouched. Popular eras are the Regency (balls, duchesses, carriages,) the Romans (slaves, gladiators, Imperial decadence), and the Egyptians (mysterious, supernatural, full of gold.)
What all these eras have in common is that they were literate, and we have access to reams of information about what life was like there. This is sadly not true of the Minoans, who have left (so far) very few written records, and as far as I know some of those are still untranslatable. Meaning that we actually know very little about what their life was like, and such things as we do know are down to looking at their artwork and making an educated guess as to what’s going on.
So I repeat, why would I want to write in that setting?
Firstly, I’d have to say “Doesn’t it look beautiful!” Look at the sun. And the colours! Look at the ruins of palaces, with those iconic blood-red pillars standing out against that indigo sky. Can’t you almost feel the warmth already?
And now look at the artwork! Doesn’t this civilization seem a nice place to live? It does to me. If I imagine the sun-drenched shores and tamarisk-scented hills of Crete inhabited by these long-haired, long-limbed beautiful people in their colourful kilts and their ridiculous belled skirts, athletic people, bedecked with jewellery, gathering saffron among the flowers, of course I want to be there.
I find a lot of people are attracted by the glamour and the peril of times of war. They want to read about macho warriors doing manly things. But I’ve become a little bored by that, and I wanted to write about a civilization that didn’t seem to revolve around its warriors, or who it could kill.
Scholarly opinion is, as always, divided on what Minoan civilization was really like, but there seems to be a strong case for the Ancient Minoans being a civilization dominated by priestesses. Earlier archaeologists assumed from reading Greek literature that the Minoans were ruled by a king called Minos, but nowadays there’s a core of people who think they were ruled from a temple, by the priestesses, and ‘Minos’ was a religious title of some sort.
It’s all a bit vague and speculative, particularly as anything the Greeks said is being filtered through their own preconceptions. But I thought it would be interesting to explore a culture where being female is associated with power. What would it be like, being a man in that culture? Would it be easier for a genderqueer person, or harder, than a culture in which a person’s value was determined by how manly they were?
And what would that culture think when it came across a patriarchy like the Ancient Greeks? That culture clash fascinated me. If Minoan society was indeed peaceful and matriarchal, how on earth did it survive in a world full of societies that would have regarded it as abhorrent and against the natural order of things?
The answer for which drew me into a world of ecstatic goddess worship and drug-fuelled religious rites, a bit of hands-off research into the effects of opium smoke, and an enlightening crawl through the many early cults with ‘third sex’ eunuch/transgender or genderqueer priest/esses.
I was left with the realization that even the most peaceful places hold extraordinarily interesting stories, if you just look. I hope you enjoy mine!
About the Book
Kikeru, the child of a priestess at the sacred temple of Knossos in ancient Crete, believes that the goddesses are laughing at him. They expect him to choose whether he is a man or a woman, when he’s both. They expect him to choose whether to be a husband to a wife, or a celibate priestess in the temple, when all he wants to do is invent things and be with the person he loves.
Unfortunately, that person is Rusa, the handsome ship owner who is most decidedly a man and therefore off-limits no matter what he chooses. And did he mention that the goddesses also expect him to avert war with the Greeks?
The Greeks have an army. Kikeru has his mother, Maja, who is pressuring him to give her grandchildren; Jadikira, Rusa’s pregnant daughter; and superstitious Rusa, who is terrified of what the goddesses will think of him being in love with one of their chosen ones.
It’s a tall order to save Crete from conquest, win his love, and keep both halves of himself. Luckily, at least the daemons are on his side.
Buy the Book: Riptide Publishing
About the Author
Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.
Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.
Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.
She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.
To celebrate the release of Labyrinth, one lucky winner will receive their choice of an eBook off Alex’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 26, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!