Jennifer 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.
~ 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.