What Is Cleopatra!
If you are interested in a straightforward answer, read my book description on Bookbaby.
Here, I’d like to instead give you a behind-the-scenes look at the genesis of this novel. Shakespeare’s play about the pharaoh had always intrigued me: a messy, overly ambitious love story, the joys and sorrows of being at home everywhere and nowhere, and a rich melee of characters of quite different persuasions and cultures — all painted on a very broad canvas.
Hmmm. Kind of reminds me of the life of someone I know rather intimately. And shouldn’t there be a more accessible retelling for our times, anyway? The star-crossed teens of Romeo and Juliet have been remembered by more artists than one can count, but what about the equally star-crossed adults of Antony and Cleopatra? True, there have been enough ‘historical novel’ treatments of the subject; but they added very little to the conversation and the fanciful Carry on Cleo and Asterix and Cleopatra proved to be the exceptions to the rule.
My solution was to write a text true to the spirit rather than the letter of Cleopatra: inspiration was sought from the best of the best of antiquity, any dialogue that might have been overheard on a bus was struck out, and to enchant — like the venefica the Romans held her to be — by straddling the worlds of antiquity and the 21st century, adding much of our current debates on regime change and feminism, while siding with none and all.