Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Guest Post and Giveaway from Ben Kane, author of SPARTACUS: REBELLION

It's an honor to welcome back my friend and fellow author Ben Kane, as he celebrates the release of the second book in his dramatic account of Spartacus, the slave who led a massive rebellion and changed history. In SPARTACUS: REBELLION, Spartacus has already done the impossible—escaped from slavery, created a mighty army that has challenged Rome and defeated the armies of three praetors, two consuls, and one proconsul. Now the road home lies before them but danger gathers on the horizon. One of Spartacus's most powerful generals has defected, taking his men with him, and in Rome, an immense force is being gathered against him. Spartacus wants to lead his men over the Alps but others have a different plan. They want to march on Rome and bring the Republic to its knees. Rebellion has become a war to the death.
As with his first installment Spartacus: The Gladiator, Ben has created a pulse-pounding adventure that is rich with detail and characterization. The Daily Express says, "Burly prose highlights the pain, brutality and chaos of ancient combat" and the Historical Novel Reviews says, "Kane succeeds in drawing a convincing picture of how it might have been, which is what a good historical novel should do."

Please join me in welcoming Ben Kane, who offers us this guest post about how he came to write about this iconic figure as well as a giveaway of ONE copy of each of his Spartacus books. This giveaway is open to US and Canada only. To enter, please comment below. A winner will be drawn at random on May 30.

How I Came To Write About Spartacus
Ben Kane

 It’s a funny thing, but the idea for writing about Spartacus came about by chance. In March 2009, I was talking with my agent about ideas for books. I had already set my mind upon a series set during the second (Punic) war between Carthage and Rome, but we were talking about other possibilities as well. I won’t mention them, because I haven’t written the books yet, but Spartacus came up. It sounds naive but in that moment it was as if someone had switched a light bulb on in my head. I had watched the famous Kubrick movie once as a boy, and it had made a great impression on me. (I should add that we didn't have a TV when I was growing up, or I am sure that I would have seen it more than once!) I had had cause to read about Spartacus in the previous few years. As many of you know, Marcus Licinius Crassus was the man who put down Spartacus’ rebellion in 71 BC. He is also a character in my first novel, The Forgotten Legion. That day, the plan for a set of novels about Carthage and Rome won out, but the idea didn't go away.

In early 2010, I started hearing a lot of news about an upcoming TV miniseries called Spartacus: Blood and Sand, starring a then little-known Australian actor called Andy Whitfield*.This set me to thinking about Spartacus’ story all over again. I did some more research on the man, and became even more enamored of his achievements, and amazed by how close he had come to getting away. He was someone who was subjected to a great injustice, and he didn't take it lying down. Instead, he fought back ― in the process shaking the mighty Roman Republic to its core. Although the reasons for Spartacus’ fame have quite modern roots (he was resurrected as a symbol of the small man’s fight against oppression in the 18th and 19th centuries), his name is one of the most well-known from ancient times. Thrilled, I went as far as writing the plotline for a novel and submitting it to my UK publishers. Sadly, but perhaps sensibly, they were keen that I concentrate on my other novels.
I went back to work, finishing the novel Hannibal: Enemy of Rome. The itch to write Spartacus became a lot worse over the subsequent months, however, and I kept badgering my publishers. I am pleased to say that eventually, they gave in! I started writing Spartacus’ story in mid-December 2010, and I had it finished by mid-June 2011. The story just burst out of me. At about 100,000 words (the normal length of my novels is about 145,000 words) I knew there was no way this amazing man’s story would fit into one volume. Cap in hand, I went back to my publisher. This time, they were quick to agree to a second book. The first volume immediately became Spartacus: The Gladiator, while I named the second Spartacus: Rebellion. That book also took me little more than 6 months to write. In all, I lived, breathed and dreamed Spartacus for more than a year. It was the most amazing experience, and I was very sad to end the story. I actually dreaded writing the final battle (most everyone knows what happens, but I won’t mention it just in case), but when the time came, the writing flowed so well. Working up to 16 hours a day, I wrote more than 15,000 words in 8 days. By the end, I was totally drained, but it had been a fantastic experience. It is my sincere hope that readers will get as much enjoyment out of reading the books as I did in writing them.

*Andy was a mesmeric actor, who totally made the role of Spartacus his. Tragically, he died before the rest of the series could be made. His role was taken over by the actor Liam McIntyre.

Thank you, Ben! Best of success with the book. To follow Ben on his virtual tour, please go here. To find out more about Ben and his work, visit his website. And don't forget to comment below to enter the giveaway.


Linda said...

I remember so well the movie starring Kirk Douglas, my first and possibly only introduction to Spartacus. Now, years later, I've become a big fan of historical fiction and would love to read this novel. Thanks so much for the giveaway.

Margaret @ JustOneMoreChapter said...

This is an author I have heard so many good things about.

Thanks for the giveaway.

Sherry said...

I'm so glad you're giving Spartacus an identity of his own, Ben. Despite the pomp and gusto of the Kubrick movie, it's impossible to watch the tall blond dude with the Cheerio chin and not think, "You can't fool me; I know you're Kirk Douglas." Bless you for creating a Spartacus who can make us completely enter his world. May your giveaway pay off manyfold!

Nancy said...

I always associate Kirk Douglas with Spartacus, too. I'd love to erase that image with something more substantial. Thanks for the giveaway.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

@Linda: I hope you enjoy it!

@Margaret: thanks - glad to hear that good things are said about me - and I hope that you enjoy it.

@Unknown: Thanks so much. I've done my darndest to make Spartacus MY Spartacus - and so far most people agree with me.

@Nancy: see above, and I hope you agree!