Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Character Interview: Queen Gorgo of T.S. Chaudhry's 'The Queen of Sparta'

We’re thrilled to have here today Queen Gorgo  from  T.S. Chaudhry’s historical novel, The Queen of Sparta.  Gorgo is coming to us all the way from the great Kingdom of Sparta.  It is a pleasure to have her with us today at The Literary Nook!

Thank you so for this interview, Gorgo.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

I have already been portrayed in fiction and on film. In the movie, 300, I was portrayed by Lena Headey. Of all of my portrayals, I think the book “The Queen o Sparta” is the best one yet. Though some readers might find the ending of the novel a little contentious, much of it is actually drawn from historical sources and tries to reflect, with considerable accuracy, the person that I was -  a woman, and a leader - who lived and breathed some 2,500 years ago.  

Who am I? In popular media, I am linked to my husband, King Leonidas, who fell heroically along with his 300 Spartans defended the pass of Thermopylae against the Persian invaders. But I was much more than that. I was the only child of  Cleomenes, King of Sparta, a controversial man who walked the fine line between genius and madness.  I might have inherited that too. For even as a young child, I could see through politicians when they were lying; as a teenager I could crack secret messages which others could not; and as a young Queen, I organized the disparate mutually jealous and fractious states of Greece into a unified force which could defeat the most powerful Empire of my era.  And I did all of this from behind the scenes. This was the only way I could wield influence in a culture that was dominated by male warriors.    

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I have a strong sense of what is right and what needs to be done for the greater good.

Worst trait?

I am horribly vindictive.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yes, he an enemy prisoner – a Prince, no less – who is the only man who truly understands me. And in spite of being on the opposite sides, there is much that we have in common. I can relate to him both physically and intellectually.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?
The part where I have to choose between doing what is right to save Sparta from itself or to save the life of my young son, who is the King of Sparta, and who is life is put at risk by my actions.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

I do not want to be my cousin, Pausanias.  Pausanias is a young Spartan prince, younger than myself who becomes the Regent of Sparta when my husband Leonidas is killed. He is a brave warrior and a capable military leader but he has no sense of politics. Above all, he is driven by the head not the heart and he is willing to give up everything for a woman he has become obsessed with.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

According to the most reliable sources, I and my son completely disappear from history, but in this book I do not. The ending opens up, a little controversially, possibilities of what might I have happened to me. There will hopefully be a sequel that clarifies that a little more.  Let me leave it at that.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it?

I think my passion needs to come out more in future books.

Thank you for this interview.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

The author is already writing a ‘prequel’ and a ‘sequel’ with me in it. I have a very minor role in the prequel entitled “Fennel Field” but hope to have a major role in the sequel.

About the Author:

T. S. Chaudhry was born in Karachi, Pakistan. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, a master’s degree from Harvard University, and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Formerly a Pakistani diplomat, Chaudhry currently works for the United Nations on peace and security issues in Africa.

THE QUEEN OF SPARTA is Chaudhry’s first novel. He came up with the idea to write a story about Queen Gorgo being the architect of the Greek resistance against the Persian invasion while reading Herodotus for his A-Level examination in England several decades ago. “As a lover of history, or a ‘history-buff,’ I have always enjoyed reading both fiction and nonfiction about this period.”

Chaudhry is currently working on a “prequel” to THE QUEEN OF SPARTA based on events leading up to the Battle of Marathon, called Fennel Field.
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About the Book:

Title: The Queen of Sparta
Author: T.S. Chaudhry
Publisher: Top Hat Books
Pages: 383
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Author T.S. Chaudhry offers a new spin on Spartan history in his novel, THE QUEEN OF SPARTA. In the book, Queen Gorgo, the wife of the courageous Spartan leader, Leonidas, surreptitiously organizes the Greek resistance against the invasion of the mighty Persian king, Xerxes, and his massive army. Although founded on the writings of historian, Herodotus, Chaudhry’s revision of the 480 B.C. invasion challenges readers to imagine the brilliant and politically savvy Queen Gorgo as the Spartan leader who wielded her power with stealth and cunning to end the Persian occupation of Greece.
Gorgo devises a strategy using espionage and diplomacy, in addition to Sparta’s military might, to defeat the Persians and drive them out of Greece. During the last battle of the war, Prince Sherzada, a Saka, is captured while fighting on the Persian side. He is imprisoned by Gorgo, who has vowed to kill him. However, an unexpected alliance blooms between Gorgo and Sherzada, based on common perceptions and a shared dark secret. As allies, the queen and prince face new dangers from within Sparta that threaten the safety of Gorgo and her young son, the king.
As the story progresses, Queen Gorgo must choose between confronting the reactionary forces within Sparta directly or saving her life and the life of her child.
THE QUEEN OF SPARTA begins on the Banks of Indus, and takes the reader through time and space to Greece, Tuscany, Rome, and the Baltic coast of northern Europe and attempts to link some of the main cultures of that time period. “In the novel, I tried to present the conflict through the eyes of two protagonists,” Chaudhry states. “The Greek viewpoint is presented through Queen Gorgo, and the opposing one is represented by Prince Sherzada, who becomes her prisoner. The whole story is also a deliberate attempt to confuse ‘the possession’ of history because, actually, history belongs to all of us.”
THE QUEEN OF SPARTA informs the reader about the politics of ancient Greece in the 5th Century, B.C. and about Sparta, its people, and its culture; the book also describes what made the Spartans great while sharing the flaws and contradictions within their society. Chaudhry notes that “fiction is art immitating life. That is how I see the relationship between historical fiction and history. History has wonderful stories to tell. And it gets more wonderful the further in the past you go where evidence is sparse, but the realm of creativity is rich. I love to find out how things happened the way they did. Ancient history provides us with a rich variety of potential answers that are always fun to explore.”
The author’s goal in writing THE QUEEN OF SPARTA was to share the message that “one must stand for one’s principles, for what one believes to be right, even in the face of overwhelming opposition.”

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