Writing Women in My Ancient History Novels

In Rhea Silvia, Maker of Kings, my current Work-in-Progress novel, I have expanded the role of Rhea Silvia, mother of Romulus and Remus the founders of Rome, so that she becomes the Kingmaker for Numa Pompilius, successor as King of Rome to Romulus.

In Hersilia, Queen of Rome, my current WiP novel, I expand the role of Hersilia, wife of Romulus, to be ruling partner and instigator of certain events reported during his reign.

In Redemption’s Choice, my completely fictional character Saphina becomes embroiled in a government coup in the ancient city of Caere and then an integral participant in the overthrow of Tarquinius Superbus, last king of Rome.

In Valeria’s Honor, my MC Valeria Publicola (quasi-historical) learns the meaning of Honor, and holds to integrity even while believing it costs her heart.

In Nisba’s Revenge, my fictional character, the woman Nisba, commits murder after murder while seeking to kill the one man she holds responsible for the loss of everyone and everything she held dear.

I write historical fiction set in the ancient world of Italy. Two novels are set in the time of Rome’s founding, c 750-720 BC. Two are set in the years Rome’s Republic was born, c 510-500 BC. One is set in the years Sardinia was lost to Carthage and became a Roman province. Three are set during Hannibal’s invasion of Italy after Cannae, c 218-211 BC.

In each of these the Main Character, the protagonist, is a Woman.

She may be mentioned in historical texts, she may be completely fictional.

She may not be strong when she first appears, but spurred by people and circumstances she discovers and embraces and acts with her inner emotional and intellectual (and yes physical) strength.

I don’t write female characters out of some feminist bent. I do absolutely fervently believe that women are too often underestimated, both by men and by themselves; that women are sadly and badly often underrepresented in politics, in business, in society (see earlier comment about women underestimating themselves).

I don’t write female characters to “even up” any score within fiction to-date.

I write female characters where I think a fictional history may benefit from their presence. I write female characters because they are a complex concoction of emotion and dispassion. I write female characters because they provide such a rich mirror of behavior and insight and intuition and action.

I write female characters because they are so much fun.

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