On this Hallowed Eve, I am very pleased to introduce you to Adam Haviaras, an archaeologist, who has turned his hand from digging the earth for artefacts to writing stories. Well, he is still a practising archaeologist. Adam has invested his passion for the ancient past and Arthurian lore into writing fiction steeped in history and the supernatural. A perfect subject for the impending Day of the Dead, just watch out for the headless horseman.
Adam and I connected quite a few years back through our shared interest in ancient history, in particular Greece and Rome, and of course mythology. I’ve been following his well written and informative blog Eagles and Dragons Publishing for many years now and if you are interested in Roman history and mythical stories, then I highly recommend you visit Adam’s blog. I reached out to Adam and asked if he wouldn’t mind being
interrogated, ahem, I mean interviewed, and was so pleased when he said yes. Here we go…
1. Can you give us an overview of the book you are currently working on? And when will it be available for release?
I’ve just released a special trilogy box set of my historical horror series, The Carpathian Interlude. These stories are set during the reign of Emperor Augustus and the time of the Varus Disaster. This was when three Roman legions were massacred in the forests of Germania. This trilogy was very exciting to write, and is more graphic and hard-hitting than my main Eagles and Dragons series. There are a lot of fantasy elements in these books, but, as ever, I’ve done a great deal of historical research.
As far as what I’m currently writing, I’m well into the fifth book of the Eagles and Dragons series, the title of which is Isle of the Blessed. A lot is happening in this particular book so it’s quite an emotional ride at times. I’ve lived with the characters for so long that they are like the closest of family and friends. I hope to have that book out sometime in 2018.
2. What was the inspiration behind The Carpathian Interlude series?
It started out as a bit of fun, a change of pace. I had planned to do a Romans vs. Zombies novel, then Romans vs. Werewolves, but it quickly morphed into something much more serious.
Basically, The Carpathian Interlude is a study of fear, death, and the nature of the gods. The ancient religions of Mithraism and Zoroastrianism inspired much of the story, as well as the Varus Disaster which was an event that shook the Roman Empire to its core.
3. Did you find any of your characters more challenging to write about than the others?
The Carpathian Interlude has quite a cast of characters, each with their own unique personalities, fears, and traumas they experience through the horror of battle. It was an interesting and fun challenge to make each person stand out.
However, I think the most difficult character to write was the main villain. How does one write a believable personification of Death? I had to dig far back in time and religious belief for some clues as to how to do this. Zoroastrianism gave me the answers I was seeking.
4. Your books tend show the dark side of humans and the various deities. What is it about these elements that draws you to write about them?
That’s a great question. I think in all great stories there is never good without evil. Elements of both must be represented in storytelling. The greater the evil your hero has to face, the more he or she is tested and made to suffer, the greater that hero’s victory in the end.
Having studied history for so many years, I’ve found that no matter which period we’re looking at, it’s evident that humans are (sadly) capable of horrible things, whether for selfish ends, or a misguided wish to honour their chosen gods.
That said, I do believe that Good and Light should overcome. My characters may suffer greatly and experience unimaginable traumas that we can only guess at, but at the end of the day, they defeat their adversaries, their fears, and Evil.
As a reader and writer, I love it when the bad guys get their comeuppance! Otherwise, I don’t find it to be fulfilling or uplifting storytelling.
5. As an archaeologist and historian, do you feel that you have compromised the historical elements when writing? Or does the creativity of storytelling allow you blend fact and fiction?
I always try to remain as true as possible to the history about which I am writing. That also includes religious beliefs and practices. As an historical novelist, it’s my duty to paint an accurate picture.
However, I’m a storyteller first and foremost now, and long ago I learned that the story, moving it forward and enriching it, must come first. We should try to remain true to the history, of course, but sometimes you need to veer a little.
If I ever stray from the path or alter facts, processes, or timelines slightly, I always state it in the Author’s Note at the back of the book.
That said, in writing historical fantasy, there is some elbow room. I involve the gods in my books. They are characters with whom my mortal characters interact. We may not know the minute details about ancient religious practices, but we do know that the ancient Greeks and Romans, among others, believed that the gods played an active role in almost every aspect of their day-to-day lives. I strongly feel that it’s a disservice not to include the gods, or ancient religion, in historical fiction/fantasy. I believe that by including those things in my stories, I’m actually giving a more accurate picture of the period, a view from the characters’ perspective rather than through the flawed filter of hindsight.
Compared to writing non-fiction history, storytelling through historical fiction/fantasy allows us to blend fact and fiction in such a way that we can explore the ‘What ifs’ of history and try out different theories that may be no less implausible than those that are generally accepted. It’s incredibly freeing and fulfilling to explore history beyond the status quo.
6. As an author, historian, and archaeologist, where have you travelled and which of the places is your favourite? Do you think this was an important part when writing your books?
I do try to travel whenever I can, and have been fortunate enough to have done so a fair bit. I really believe travelling is the best education you can get.
I can’t really pick an absolutely favourite place. I think everyone of the places I’ve been too has impacted my writing in some way, shape or form. I’ve been to various parts of Greece, Italy, France, England, Scotland and Wales to name a few.
My time in Rome had a huge impact on my idea of the grandeur of ancient Rome. It was a perspective I just had not obtained through books.
I was also fortunate enough to travel around Tunisia and through the Sahara in a 4X4 on a safari of Roman sites. That particular trip had a huge impact on me not only when it came to the extent of the Roman Empire, but also the desolate beauty of the desert environment. The latter is something that really comes through in the first three Eagles and Dragons novels.
Travelling around Greece, I’ve definitely learned to appreciate its rugged, untouched beauty and how close one can get to the ancient past. Visiting the various sanctuaries of Olympia, Delphi, Delos, and others opened a wide window onto the rich plain of ancient faith that I have not seen or felt anywhere else.
Travel helps me not only with the visual side of things, but also with other senses too. The light shines differently depending on where you are, colours are more brilliant or duller, the air smells different in each place you visit, and dirt and stone are unique to each place. Taking all of this in, as well as the history, helps to inform my writing and enrich the story’s world.
It’s not always possible to travel to certain places, but when you can do so, I highly recommend it.
7. Now just a few writing questions…
Many of us indie writers started out in other careers. When and why did you decide to become a writer?
I decided I wanted to be a writer at the same time I fell in love with history. That happened after my first trip to England when I was about fifteen. I was just blown away by everything I saw from castles and cathedrals, to swords and armour and all the stories that went with each of them. Whole new worlds opened up to me with that one vacation.
The truth is that, apart from reading as much as I could (which I did!), the most satisfying and fulfilling way that I found to express my love and understanding of history was creative writing. They just went together naturally for me.
I haven’t looked back since, and even when I was at jobs that I detested, it was always a comfort to me that I had history and my writing.
8. When writing, is there anything you find particularly challenging?
Having enough time is my biggest challenge. I think that is the case for most writers.
Most of my books have been written over my hour-long lunch breaks, so it is very difficult when I get into a great writing flow and then I look at the clock and I only have a few minutes left. It can be very frustrating.
But every minute I put into writing is cumulative. I’ve written over ten books now on my lunch breaks.
Of course, like most authors, I’m driven to write full-time and have that goal in my sights in the near future. I look forward to when I can give myself back that writing time. I have so many ideas for new stories and themes to explore.
Time is truly precious!
9. What is your writing process like?
I always listen to moody soundtrack music while I write, and I’ve created various playlists for each of my books. So, on my commute to work and while working at my desk, I listen to that music to prepare myself for my hour of writing at lunch.
When my hour comes, I get a coffee, I sit down with my laptop in a quiet spot away from my workplace, and I just start writing.
I used to be a ‘pantser’ but I’ve found it more useful and more productive to do an outline. It’s not overly detailed – I like to let the story and characters surprise me – but it’s enough to keep me within the bounds of the historical timeline I’m following and the big events or developments I want to hit along the way. I’ve found Shawn Coyne’s Story Grid ideas to be very useful in outlining and plotting my stories.
I don’t fuss about or edit the story as I go. The goal with my first draft is just to get it out. The best advice my late mentor, the poet Leila Pepper, gave to me was to “just get the story down. No matter what! Just get it down and edit later!”
That is very freeing., and helps me to get my first draft done.
I then set the book aside for a month or more while I work on something else.
When I pick it up and read it again, I’m looking at it with fresher eyes. I’m not sick of it or too attached.
From that point, I do as many drafts as I can until it is right for my few Beta readers. Once they are done, it goes to my editor.
Where can readers purchase the box set of The Carpathian Interlude.
The Carpathian Interlude Complete Trilogy box set is available on Amazon, Apple iBooks/iTunes, and Kobo in both e-book and paperback.
I’ve very excited about this box set because it has a few extras such as a glossary of Greek, Latin and other words as well as a whole new alternate ending that is not available anywhere else.
If anyone is interested that box set, or any of my other books, they can go to the stores mentioned above or the Eagles and Dragons Publishing website here:
Where can readers connect with you?
The best way to connect is by signing-up for the Eagles and Dragons Publishing mailing list. I’m in touch with my subscribers weekly with blog posts about different aspects of ancient history, special offers for my books and more.
If you join the mailing list right now, you can get a FREE copy of my book Heart of Fire: A novel of the Ancient Olympics.
Here is the link: http://eaglesanddragonspublishing.com/newsletter-join-the-legions/
Other than that, I’m also on the following social media platforms where I’m always happy to talk history and historical fiction!: