Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Let's visit with author Nancy Kimball!

This week we welcome Nancy Kimball as our spotlight author! Author, avid reader, and shameless hero addict, Nancy Kimball loves books, Ancient Rome, and all things gladiator. She is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest Finalist, and former president of her local ACFW chapter, Writers on the Storm. She makes her home in Houston, Texas with one very spoiled pitbull mix named Eric T. and doesn’t understand the point of white crayons.

Nancy, welcome to Novel Pastimes! Can you share with us about your path to becoming a writer?
I was one of those kids who always had their face in a book and loved writing stories. College would eventually destroy this love of reading and writing, but thankfully it revived in 2010 when I participated in my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month). I did make my fifty-thousand words in thirty days, though it would be nearly a year before I had a complete manuscript. I joined a writers group and pursued traditional publishing for the next three years, learning a lot about craft and making wonderful friendships along the way. In April of this year my team and I self/Indie published Chasing the Lion and have been blessed to see it embraced by readers of many genres.

Congratulations on the release of Chasing the Lion! Tell us a little about the story and your hero and heroine.
Thank you! Chasing the Lion is the story of a young Roman noble, Jonathan Tarquinius, who is betrayed into slavery and must fight to save the life of the woman he loves and free Rome from a tyrant Caesar. The true romance, in all its pain and beauty, is the Lord’s relentless pursuit of Jonathan. As part of that journey, another romance develops between Jonathan and Nessa, a slave-girl. They lead a cast of characters readers both love and love to hate (Caius anyone?), and I’m grateful to have been chosen to steward their story.

What drew you to writing about ancient Rome and gladiators? What’s your favorite thing about that time period?
The Ridley Scott film Gladiator with Russell Crowe has always been one of my favorites. My favorite computer game is ROME: Total War, so when I sat down to brainstorm a setting for my story, I knew that’s what I wanted to write about. The more I research that time and its rich history, the more I love it. My favorite thing about Ancient Rome is the lasting impact their culture has had on world history. There is a reason we still say all roads lead to Rome, and the Flavian Amphitheater (known today as the Colosseum) hosts more than 5 million visitors a year. I haven’t been yet, but a friend visited earlier this year and shared photos from his trip with me and my readers.

Oh yes, Russell Crowe and Gladiator make lots of us want to visit Ancient Rome. :-) Where did the idea for Chasing the Lion stem from?
When looking at the story of Joseph from the Bible, (one of my favorites) I asked myself what would have happened if Joseph hadn’t been steadfast in his faith. Would the Lord have relentlessly pursued him to bring him back to faith and still use him to change the future of a nation? Or would he have risen up another in his place?  So I brought that question into my love of gladiators and Ancient Rome, and it would become the foundation of the spiritual thread for Chasing the Lion.

You share on your website a great God-timing story about finding your cover models. It’s quite a story, but can you tell us some high points or things you learned from it?
That was quite a story! My main take away from that experience was you need to make a plan and work the plan, but be ready when God is doing something completely different. So what seems like a disaster in progress can end in something so far beyond your own expectations if you are tuned in to the Lord and open to following His lead. Even if it is into an unknown. This would happen with the narrator for my audiobook. It was an absolute God thing we were able to work together, and again, was above and beyond anything I could have done on my own just like my cover model.

What’s the most interesting (or unusual) thing you’ve done in the name of research for one of your books?
Visitors, come back tomorrow to read the great answer to this question and to learn more about Nancy and Chasing the Lion. Plus, answer her question here for your chance to win a copy of Chasing the Lion:

While I’m not the expert on gladiators that Dr. Kathleen Coleman or Andrew Wallace Hadrill are, ask me something about gladiators or their history. I’ll tell you what I know, and it might surprise you. Like it did me to learn rarely was a contest ever to the death.

Ask your question in the comments section and be sure to include your name and email address (spelling out ‘at’ and ‘dot’ to help cut down on spam, please). We’ll see you again tomorrow! 


Terri Wangard said...

Hi Nancy!
Were gladiators always forced to become such, or did some volunteer? (They would have to be nuts if they did.)
tlw131 [at] gmail [dot] com

Nancy Kimball said...

Hi Terri!
Many volunteered. I can't remember by what year more than 50% of the gladiators in the Empire were volunteers, but it was post-1st Century. These contract gladiators signed for a three year period. I agree it wasn't a good career move, but some were in so much debt, were retired legionaries with nowhere else to go or means of income, or wanted the fame. For a Roman citizen to do this, it was downright scandalous because gladiators ranked down there with actors in the social pecking order--at the bottom. Great question and good luck in the drawing!

Lisa Godfrees said...

We're there ever any female gladiators, Nancy?

Nancy Kimball said...

Great question, Lisa, and yes there were. We have both historical writings, and historical artifacts that support this. Bones of female skeletons found among the male skeletons in confirmed gladiator burial sites that had similarities to their male counterparts such as weapon scoring of the bones consistent with gladiatorial combat. The British Museum also has a marble relief recovered from the first or second century depicting female gladiators. And historical writings from several period sources make reference (most of them bad references) to them. It would seem this was more prevalent under the tyrant Caesars like Nero and Domitian. Domitian was known to make dwarfs fight female gladiators, which is probably part of why my hero knew it was time for him to go! =) Good luck in the drawing!

Angi said...

Hey Nancy! I was wondering if Gladiators had a "retirement age", provided they lived long enough to actually retire? No need to enter me in the drawing. I've read "Chasing the Lion" and it is amazing! :)

Nancy Kimball said...

Great question, Angi, and honestly, I'm not sure. That would be something I'd have to dig into but it didn't come up in my research. That may be because the mortality rate was so high. I do know that freed/former gladiators usually became lanistas themselves or body guards to the wealthy. Thank you for your shout out on Chasing the Lion. I'm a very proud book mama!

Gretchen E.K. Engel said...

Were there ever child gladiators?

Nancy Kimball said...

If so, Gretchen that was lost to history but my gut tells me no. Reason being I feel the period writers that held a critical view of gladiatorial combat, like Seneca (4 BC-AD65) would have made reference to it.

Because of the high-mortality rates in child-birth and early years, children were highly valued (the males more so because of having a legal heir for property and name) and slave children sold for premiums because of their longer life expectancy, and sadly because in a culture rife with debauchery, for reasons that mirror the sex slave-trade today.

In Roman society, age 15 was adulthood and it was not unusual for girls to be betrothed at 13 and married at 15. Several of the archeological finds of gladiator grave yards indicate teenagers, which totally breaks my heart (like Jelani's character in Chasing the Lion).