Today on the Debutante Ball, I’m excited to welcome Emily Hauser, whose debut novel, FOR THE MOST BEAUTIFUL, captivated me immediately.
I met Emily in the most random way…through Twitter. We connected because both of our books are set in the ancient world and it’s yet another time that I have been grateful for the connective power of the Internet. Emily made a big mark on my own novel, FEAST OF SORROW, because she speaks Latin and well, I don’t. She was able to fix many of the errors that I had in the language, whew! Emily is a classicist, as she will talk about in this interview, and her background and meticulous research make this novel glow with its imagery and accessibility. Emily is also an amazing reader–if you have an opportunity to hear her read, go! You won’t be disappointed.
In this startlingly original and thrillingly imagined debut, a brilliant new voice reveals the untold story behind the Trojan war: the princess and the slave who undid Achilles and fought to save Troy…
Perfect for fans of Tracy Chevalier’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring and Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist
Three thousand years ago a war took place that gave birth to legends – to Achilles, the greatest of the Greeks, and Hector, prince of Troy. It was a war that shook the very foundations of the world. But what if there was more to this epic conflict? What if there was another, hidden tale of the Trojan War?
Now is the time for the women of Troy to tell their story.
Thrillingly imagined and startlingly original, For the Most Beautiful reveals the true story of true for the first time. The story of Krisayis, daughter of the Trojans’ High Priest, and of Briseis, princess of Pedasus, who fight to determine the fate of a city and its people in this ancient time of mischievous gods and mythic heroes. In this novel full of passion and revenge, loyalty and betrayal, bravery and sacrifice, Emily Hauser breathes exhilarating new life into one of the greatest legends of all – in a tale that has waited millennia to be told.
‘Stunning… brings ancient Troy wildly, raucously, passionately alive’ — MANDA SCOTT, bestselling author of Boudica
If you want to win a copy of this moving debut, simply retweet on twitter:
— The Debutante Ball (@DebutanteBall) July 1, 2017
And you can enter by sharing our post from Facebook. We will select and contact the very lucky winner on Friday, July 7 at noon (US Only).
Now, on to the interview!
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
There are many books I’ve loved – I’ve always been an avid reader! – but probably the most important for For the Most Beautiful was Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad. It’s a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey from the point of view of Penelope, written in Atwood’s signature dry and witty style. I read the novel for one of my first classes during my Ph.D. at Yale, and immediately fell in love with the idea of telling Odysseus’ story through Penelope’s eyes. And then I thought – why has no-one thought of doing Homer’s Iliad from a woman’s point of view, too? There are so many fascinating women in the tale of the Trojan War – not least Helen of Troy, as well as Atwood’s Penelope – whose tales deserve to be told. That’s how I started writing For the Most Beautiful.
Where do you love to be?
Greece! I love everything about the Mediterranean. I’ve studied ancient Greek for over fifteen years now and I try to get back to Greece as often as I can to visit the ruins and museums – there’s so much to see and I’m still not done! One of the most enjoyable things about writing the Golden Apple trilogy has been the chance to travel to the sites I’m writing about to research my characters’ worlds. A few years ago my husband and I visited the site of Troy in Turkey, and last year we went to Mount Pelion in the north of Greece to explore the ancient ruins of Iolcos, the home of Jason, leader of the Argonauts, for my second book For the Winner. It’s such a beautiful area and it was wonderful to experience a location so rich in ancient myth – Achilles, hero of the Trojan War, was said to have grown up on the mountain.
What’s your next big thing? (new book, new project, etc.)
My second book For the Winner – a retelling of the tale of Jason and the Argonauts – was just released in the UK, and comes out in the US in October, so I’m really excited for that. I’m currently working on the third book of the Golden Apple trilogy, which tells the story of Hercules and the Amazons. It’s been absolutely fascinating to dive into the world of the Amazons, the ancient warrior women who were supposed to have invaded Greece and even fought in the Trojan War – to try to uncover the reality behind the imagined myth. I’m nearly finished with the first draft and very excited about the book – it’s been a lot of fun to bring together all the threads of the first two books into the last novel of the trilogy.
What are the hardest and easiest things about your job?
As well as writing, my main day job is as a researcher and scholar in Classics: I study women writers in ancient Greece and Rome, and contemporary women’s writing that looks back to the classical world. Perhaps the hardest thing, especially during the Ph.D., was managing my time – I wrote For the Most Beautiful and For the Winner at the same time as writing my dissertation, and so it took quite a lot of organisation to make sure I got all my research done as well as writing the novels! But at the same time that’s also one of the easiest things, because I really love Classics – both the research and the creative writing. I found that they complemented each other really well: being able to do research in the morning into the poems of Sappho of Lesbos, and then in the afternoon write about the Trojan War, to try to bring Classics to as wide an audience as possible, has been such a joy.
Do you have a regular first reader? If so, who is it and why that person?
My husband always reads my work first – it’s a tradition we’ve started from For the Most Beautiful and continued ever since! We were both working for our PhDs, but at different universities a few hours away from each other, so we would Skype every evening and I’d read aloud the section I had written; then we’d go over it together, often for several hours. Luckily we now live in the same place so it’s made the editing process a lot quicker – and more enjoyable
Thank you for joining us, Emily! And congratulations again on your debut of FOR THE MOST BEAUTIFUL!
Born in Brighton and brought up in Suffolk, Emily Hauser studied Classics at Cambridge, where she was taught by Mary Beard, and completed a PhD in Classics at Yale University. She is now a Junior Fellow at Harvard University. For the Most Beautiful – the first book in the Golden Apple trilogy – was her debut novel and retells the story of the siege of Troy. Her second, For the Winner, is a re-imagining of the myth of Atalanta and the legend of Jason, the Argonauts and the search for the Golden Fleece.
You can also catch Emily in all of the following places: