Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Alex Beecroft for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Author: Alex Beecroft
Cover Artist: Simone
Genre: Gay, Gay Fiction, Gay Romance, Historical, Romance
Release Date: 11/21/2016
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.
If you’re a fan of the Ancient Greeks, you may want to look away from Labyrinth. When I first decided I wanted to tell a story about Ancient Crete, I was determined not to go anywhere near the Greek myths. I was not going to retread old ground. I was not doing anything with Daedalus or the Minotaur.
But during my research period, which was short – only about three months – but very intense, I kept coming across these well known stories. The Minoans do not seem to have had a literature, so we don’t know anything about their culture from their own perspective. All we have about them are the things their enemies wrote.
As I researched, surrounded by pictures of octopus fishermen and saffron gatherers, of lotuses and graceful gazelles and ladies with bared breasts and men with tiny little kilts and lots of jewelry, the horror story of the Minotaur just didn’t feel like it made sense any more.
Sailors and traders, the Minoans were a big deal in the ancient world. There are theories out there that claim the Minoan civilization was the original for the legend of Atlantis. Certainly the island of Thera, on which there was a large Minoan settlement, was destroyed by the eruption of a volcano which also fatally weakened the mother culture and heralded its collapse and invasion by Achaean Greeks.
Scholars and archaeologists paint a pretty picture of the Minoan civilization as one that pre-dated patriarchy. One that was run by priestesses on behalf of various goddesses. The ‘palace’ of Knossos was actually a temple, they said, one function of which was to take in and re-distribute the wealth of the society in an almost communist ethos, so that everyone contributed what they could and were given what they needed.
This didn’t sound anything like what I’d imagined when hearing about Queen Pasiphaë, and her amorous adventures with the bull of Poseidon which led to King Minos feeding fourteen Athenians to his wife’s hybrid son every seven years or so. The more I thought about it, the more it felt like propaganda made up by people who wanted to believe this ancient culture had a monster at its heart.
Now I wasn’t taking the story on its face value, it was suddenly much more interesting. What had given the Greeks the idea that the Minoans were defended by a bull-headed monster anyway?
Here’s a neat thing: There is a Minoan goddess figurine which has poppy seed-heads depicted on her crown. The belief is that Minoan religion was an ecstatic cult, in which the breathing in of opium smoke featured. And when I researched what you were likely to see if you had breathed opium, I came across an account by a 19th Century Romantic of seeing processions of terrible figures with the heads of animals. Oh ho! I thought.
As moderns we assume people in the past were as aware as we are that some things are real and some things are just hallucinations, but that’s not true. Other cultures would claim that drugs don’t make you see things that aren’t there, they open your eyes so you can now see the real things that are there, that were simply invisible to you before.
Now I had a mechanism by which the Greeks could have seen a Minotaur in the temple-complex of Knossos, but I also had an insight into how such a vision would have been understood by the Minoans themselves. I had a base for the legend of the Minotaur that arose from the Minoan civilization itself.
That was too cool not to share.
So Labyrinth came into being as a re-telling of the Minotaur story from the Minoan point of view, and the Greeks became my villains.
There were a few places where I thought “Am I being unfair to the Greeks?” For example, they kidnap my main character Rusa’s daughter Jadikira and threaten to forcibly marry her to one of their leaders as a ruse to start a war that they believe they will win. “Is that too hard to believe?” I worried. And then I remembered that Homer wrote an epic about how the Greeks wiped out a city-state because one of their wives ran off with the prince of Troy. So after that I was less bothered.
This is a story that casts the Greeks in the role of a bunch of violent, entitled, macho warmongering thugs, but I’m more or less happy about that. I wanted to let the other side have the mic, if only for a moment.
I hope you enjoy it!
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!
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.
Connect with Alex:
- Website: alexbeecroft.com
- Blog: alexbeecroft.com/blog
- Facebook: facebook.com/AlexBeecroftAuthor
- Twitter: @Alex_Beecroft
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/Alex_Beecroft
One random commenter with thoughtful, relevant comments will win a $25 gift certificate each month in 2016.
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