|Strong girls: not intimidated.|
In the scene where Cleopatra Selene and her father, Mark Antony, were gambling for fun, Antony teased Selene by explaining that she lost that round because she'd asked Isis for help. "Dionysus," he told her playfully, "would have been a much better choice."
"Why Dionysus?" the young reader demanded. "Antony was Roman. Shouldn't he have said 'Bacchus?'"
Wow! What a close reader. "Good catch," I told her and thanked her for contacting me. I then explained that Antony was called "The New Dionysus" by both Greeks and Alexandrians and that he happily played up to that title, sometimes even dressing as Dionysus in public appearances. Also, since Greek was Selene's first language and the scene took place in Greek-run Alexandria, it was more plausible to me that he would use the Greek form of the god's name and not the Roman.
But seriously, how awesome was she to not only notice the choice I made, but to be fearless enough to ask me about it?
|Photo by Marry Harsch|
I can't be sure, but I detected a sense of outrage over having her preferred male love interest act less than macho in that scene. I explained, of course, that Romans were not as comfortable with cats as Egyptians. They were still relatively "new" to Romans and cats would have seemed mysterious and dangerous and associated with the "dangers of the East/Egypt." For that reason alone, cats would've likely been reviled in Octavian's compound. Plus, the snake-like nature of cats (the hissing, the fangs, the blindingly fast strike) would've been very disconcerting to a person who didn't know about cats.
But again, how awesome was it that she felt comfortable enough to ask me to explain my characterization choices?
When I was a young teen, I was way too shy to ever imagine writing to an author, let alone asking him or her such detailed questions. I love that these readers felt confident enough to do so. And more importantly, that they were engaged enough in the story to seek answers. You go, girls!