The more things change, the more they stay the same. Author Brook Allen’s award-winning Antonius Trilogy explores Ancient Rome through the life of Marc Antony. At the end of 2020, go back to the first century BC.
If you could write any other genre, what would it be?
I have thought about this many times. Someday, I may do a memoir on the five years I spent caregiving for my parents. Until one has been through that dilemma, nobody fully comprehends what all it entails and the enormous commitment involved. It’s exhausting, feels futile sometimes, yet was the most poignant and important part of my lifetime, I think. It was a powerful, humbling role, becoming the parent of my parents, who became children, due to their dementia. And they had it at the same time, so I hope there will come a time when I’m able to get all of this down on paper—along with the roller-coaster of emotions involved. Believe it or not, I even have the work titled already!
What’s the oddest thing a reader has ever asked you?
Funny! Because this was a recent development! Someone emailed me last week, wanting to buy my entire trilogy for her daughter as a Christmas gift. But she wanted me to send it her daughter, because due to COVID-19, they are opening their gifts online via ZOOM or something on Christmas Eve. Mom wanted to be sure that the gift would remain “wrapped”, so I wound up gift-wrapping all three books for her in an attractive gift-bag and sending it all the way to Canada! I won’t be doing this for everybody, but it was a special gift, and I simply couldn’t say no!
What’s the difference (at least for you!) between being a writer and an author? How do you shift gears between the two?
Another author, whose work I respect a great deal, finished his books years before I did. He told me, “Get busy. Get your books DONE. Right now, you’re just another writer. Finish your book so you can call yourself an AUTHOR.” He was right.
I think there are so many people out there who write, trash whatever they’re working on, start over, trash it again—and it becomes a vicious cycle. Sure, there are things that any of us begin and don’t finish, but don’t ever make second-guessing yourself a curse. That’s what drafting a book is all about. To me, the second draft and beyond become the fun part, where you can perform surgery on your own work. Geez—I do at least five or six drafts before my editor ever even SEES my work and does a developmental for me. So, in other words. . . For all of you “writers” out there who are just consumed with TRASHING your stuff and not completing anything? Stop it. Finish something. Create a first draft and then take it from there. You can only improve if you finish an initial manuscript.
What do you worry about in your work?
I’m very schedule-oriented, so I worry about completing things in a timely manner. I get stressed when I have finished my end of the job, and someone else—an editor, formatter, beta-reader might take longer than usual completing their task when I have a deadline. Being an indie is a step-by-step learning curve with every book I write, so I have a new plan on how to manage some of that in the future! I do tend to second-guess myself a lot, but I don’t usually throw away work. I simply edit and change it—try to make it better. With each book, the process is becoming clearer. My next project is in a different period, though. That requires tremendous research, and it’s really been a joy—learning more about American History, since my next book will be about early 19th century Virginia. I will miss ancient Rome, and I intend to return to it sometime, but there’s just so much history in my home-state, I want to touch upon it and do it justice.
What brings you great joy as a writer?
Oh, whenever a reader takes the time to write a positive review or a personal email. There’s just nothing better than to learn that my book has been appreciated. Not long ago, a reader shared with me that her husband was hospitalized and undergoing cancer treatments. She said that my books had been her escape over the past year, taking her mind off of the present and letting her travel back to the past. Wow. I felt I’d really made a difference for at least one person in a meaningful way. That’s what every novelist wants their reader to do—to escape into their book. Getting to hear that personally from a reader makes me feel like I’ve truly succeeded.
Author Brook Allen has a passion for ancient history—especially 1st century BC Rome. Her Antonius Trilogy is a detailed account of the life of Marcus Antonius—Marc Antony. The first in the series is Antonius: Son of Rome, published in March 2019, follows Antony as a young man until he meets Cleopatra for the first time. The second is Antonius: Second in Command, dealing with Antony’s rise to power at Caesar’s side and culminating with the civil war at Philippi. Antonius: Soldier of Fate spotlights the romance between Antonius and Cleopatra and the historic war with Octavian Caesar.
In researching the Trilogy, Brook’s travels led her to Italy, Egypt, Greece, and even Turkey to explore where Antony once lived, fought, and eventually died. She consulted with scholars and archaeologists, pinpointing the late Republican Period in Rome. In 2019, Son of Rome won the Coffee Pot Book Club Book of the Year Award. In 2020, it was honored with a silver medal in the international Reader’s Favorite Book Reviewers Book Awards.
Though she holds a B.A. in Music Education, Brook has always loved writing. She belongs to the Historical Novel Society and attends conferences as often as possible to study craft and meet fellow authors. She teaches full-time as a Music Educator and works in a rural public-school district. Her personal interests include travel, cycling, hiking in the woods, reading, and spending downtime with her husband and two amazing Labrador Retrievers. She lives in the heart of southwest Virginia in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains.
Where to find Brook:
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Edie Cay writes award-winning feminist Regency Romance about women’s boxing and relatable misfits. She is a member of the Regency Fiction Writers, the Historical Novel Society, ALLi, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. You can drop her a line on Facebook and Instagram @authorediecay.