Today I’m joined by historical fiction author Carolyn Mathews. She is sharing #TenThings about herself and her work which includes her love for a traditional Irish dish, not quite joining MENSA and an exclusive reveal about her latest novel, Temple of Dreams. The book is available to buy here. Thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour.
1. My parents came from Ireland so I’m partial to a nice, floury potato and a dish called colcannon, which is basically cabbage and more potato.
2. My first novel, Transforming Pandora, is a little bit autobiographical. Like her, I went to a convent high school, worked in a Spanish night club and developed an interest in something called ‘automatic writing’. Look it up!
3. I started writing Transforming Pandora after I dreamed of a biblical figure with long white hair and beard, dressed in a linen garment tied with a plaited cord. The name that came to me was Enoch, not a name I would have chosen, but I thought it’d be rude to change it. Pandora’s journey starts when Enoch appears to her. I went on to write two more books charting the ups and downs of her life and loves: Squaring Circles and Pandora’s Gift.
4. Unlike Pandora, I didn’t marry a rock star. My husband’s a retired police officer and has never read a word of any of my books. This tells me that my target audience does not consist of police officers.
5. Way back in the mists of time I passed the IQ test to become a member of MENSA and still have the membership card somewhere. But I never accepted the invitation to attend a meeting because I’d just got married and felt it might be the wrong time to join a new social group. I doubt I’d pass it today, my brain cells having shrunk from too long staring at a computer screen.
6. I was a good sprinter when I was young and was spotted by a coach who approached my dad. But I was too shy to join the athletics club. Perhaps, in a parallel life, I ran myself onto an Olympic podium. I can dream . . .
7. My latest book, Temple of Dreams: A Novel of Now and Then, is a partly historical and partly set in the present. When looking online for an authentic ancient Greek name for my young Greek hero, I found the name Apollos. But recently a reader told me, very politely, that the form Apollon is more correct. It’s too late to change it now and, anyway, I think Apollos has a nicer ring. This is a case of don’t sweat the small stuff.
8. Even though the scenes in Greece are less numerous than those set in the present, they took so much research that I spent many more hours on them than on the contemporary setting. I regard the work involved in the Pandora Trilogy as equivalent to a 3-year Bachelor’s degree and Temple of Dreams as a Master’s.
9. I’ve been told by an American psychic that I have a spirit guide called Antoine, with whom I had a very happy former life in France, where we worked together teaching the arts. She instructed me to say his name three times and connect with his energy whenever I sit down to write. This sounds way out but whenever I do this, I really do feel all warm and gooey inside. And, most importantly, inspired.
10. Finally, an exclusive. You read it here first! In my preface to Temple of Dreams I confess that I had to tweak history for the sake of literary cohesion (or something like that). I can now reveal what this anomaly is. Ta-da. The Greek part is set around 432/431 BC. At that time, the Asklepion ‘hospital’ to which Apollos was carried after his defeat in a martial arts contest was, in fact, not yet built. A place of healing certainly existed on the Acropolis but consisted of just a spring and a doctor-priest. As I wanted the Asklepion buildings to resemble the college sanctuary where Seb, a student healer of present times, spends a night, I had to fast forward to 419/8 BC by which time the Asklepion in all its glory had been constructed on the site of the spring. I believe this is called dramatic licence, therefore I don’t have to go to confession and say three Hail Marys for my sin.
Thank you all for reading my #Ten Things (if you still are).
From the back of the book
Homeless and jobless following the death of his adoptive parents, Sebastian enrols at a college of natural medicine which boasts a sanctuary modelled on an ancient Greek healing centre. After a night in the temple, he dreams of Apollos, a young Athenian defeated in a pankration contest, suffering memory loss. More dreams follow, decrypted by Sybil, the lecturer who insists he keeps a dream journal. Seb is kept busy in the 21st century by a budding relationship with Fliss, which stalls when she tries to persuade him to search for his birth parents. Meanwhile, Apollos, in the fifth century BC, readies himself to attend the festival of the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries, to discover the secrets of how to avoid the perils of the underworld and make it to Elysium.
More about the author
Carolyn Mathews is the author of the Pandora Trilogy, whose first instalment Transforming Pandora was showcased by The People’s Book Prize in 2014. Carol has an MA in Applied Linguistics and an abiding interest in metaphysics, both of which have profoundly influenced her writing. She lives in Hertfordshire, UK.