I love the acknowledgements pages in historical novels, like the ones in Jim Benn’s Billy Boyles series. It is where the writing rubber meets the road; i.e., where the writer reveals where fact and fiction diverge (or don’t) in the narrative that precedes them.
So here are the “notes and acknowledgements” from Disappearance of a Scribe, which publishes tomorrow (o joy! o rapture! o bountiful Jehovah!). Beneath the cover art with a buy link, of course.
notes and acknowledgements
from Disappearance of a Scribe, the second Eye of Isis mystery
My profound thanks to Carl Marrs, to whom this book is rightfully dedicated. When he told me about pozzolan, the notion of Rhakotis sandals immediately presented itself as a means of murder in Cleopatra’s Alexandria. Because that’s just how I roll.
My thanks to Barbara Peters, She of the Eagle Eye (not to be confused with the Eye of Isis, although she would have made a fine one), who discovered, among other things, that I had been misspelling Syene since the first book. Syrene is a place, but it’s in Libya. Oy.
Google “book thefts.” The day I did there were 6,710,000 results. Not a stretch.
My thanks as always to reference librarian Michael Cattogio, to whose original classical timeline I am continually adding more names, dates, events, and milestones. I moved the timeline of the books to the Julian calendar in sheer self-defense, although I admit that it makes me feel better knowing that the change is historically accurate to the time. Can you imagine how confused everyone was, and how long it took for the change to percolate out into the hinterlands?
Susan Walker and Peter Higgs’ Cleopatra of Egypt from History to Myth and Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra are the two books that have most informed this series, but I have three full shelves of more reference works to guide my way as well. And let’s not forget Wikipedia when, purely for craft’s sake, I need the names of two battles waged by Alexander the Great beginning with the same letter but occurring as far apart as geographically possible.
The Rhakotis sandals were of course inspired by the cement overshoes of legendary Chicago infamy. Maybe Jimmy Hoffa’s wearing a pair of cement overshoes, maybe he isn’t. Maybe Muhandis and Tamir are both wearing a pair of Rhakotis sandals, maybe not. Mysteries yet to be solved, but not in this novel.
Vitruvius was a real person. I have a copy of his book on my iPad, which includes a chapter on pozzolan. He was in Egypt with Caesar’s forces as an engineer, after which he became an architect of historic renown (see da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man). It is inconceivable to me that he didn’t haunt the Great Library as did every other seeker after knowledge who ever came to Alexandria. I have no idea if he met Cleopatra but I like to think he did so I wrote it that way, and during my research I have seen suggestions that Cleopatra might have attended lectures at the Great Library. Certainly Tetisheri would have made ruthless use of his special knowledge in her investigation.
Cleopatra was called many names by contemporary, quote, historians, end quote, during her lifetime. Yes, Builder and Whore were among them. She did orchestrate the rebuilding of Alexandria following the war. She didn’t always pay for the books she appropriated for the Great Library, but then neither did the other Ptolemies. Yes, the royal family fronted room and board for scholars who came to Alexandria. Whatever else they were, the Ptolemies cherished knowledge and were determined to collect as much of it as possible under one roof of their own building.
There are too many men named Ptolemy in Cleopatra’s life, including her father, her two brothers, and her son. Auletes was actually called Auletes and Caesarion Caesarion, but I’m calling Ptolemy XIII Theo (from Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator) and Ptolemy XIV Philo (from Ptolemy XIV Philopator) so we can all keep them straight.
And since we are still speaking of Ptolemies, the resemblance between Ptolemy I and Alexander the Great on Otho’s frieze is just my little joke, fueled by speculation among some historians that Ptolemy was the illegitimate son of Philip of Macedon and therefore Alexander’s half-brother.
Julius Caesar took his time getting home from Egypt, eliminating multiple enemies along the way, but the most dangerous ones were waiting for him in Rome. It’s easy to imagine loose talk around the dinner tables of the high and mighty repeated by servants and slaves around the Forum, where Nebenteru and Simon could hear them and carry them home with the rest of the cargo.
I will be launching Disappearance of a Scribe, the second Eye of Isis novel, tomorrow afternoon at 2pm from the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale.
See you there!
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.