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8 Questions With Angela Render
1. What made you decide to write a novel about the Second Punic War?
Well, it was Hannibal himself, really. I've always enjoyed the republican period in Rome's history, but it was a biography on Hannibal that really inspired me to write the novel.
2. There have been several novels written on Hannibal recently. They took more liberties with the fiction part of their novels. What made you decide to adhere so closely to the history?
The thing that drew me to the task in the first place. Hannibal. I really wanted to get inside his head. What sort of person would be clever enough to catapult baskets of poisonous snakes on board Roman ships to make the crew panic? But would also be strong enough to entice an army of 30,000 to face, head-on, one of 90,000 and win? Ruthless enough to terrify the Roman populous into making his name a way to scare children into behaving? And honorable enough to make even his enemies write of him as being virtuous? What sort of personality would he have had? That's what I wanted to explore. If you diverge much from the history, you lose the ability to understand the man. All we have left of him is the history.
3. How long did it take you to write this?
I started in 1999. I had a cohesive draft by 2001, and a more polished version by 2002.
4. Did it really start out as a screenplay?
It did. I like to write the initial version of anything I do as a screenplay first. It helps me narrow down the primary story line and makes me describe much of what's going on in the characters' heads through dialog rather than prose. Helps keep them from chattering too. Once I start transferring it over to prose, I flesh out the subplots and begin describing the details.
5. You're a polytheist?
Yes. I have been for nearly half my life. Ironically, this is probably the first novel to be written about a pagan state BY a pagan. I think it gives the social aspects of the novel a different flavor than a monotheist could give it. I was raised a Christian and it took almost a decade for me to get over the idea that one deity wouldn't be jealous if I went to another for help with something. I liken the concept to that of physicians: A monotheist goes to see a general practitioner whereas a polytheist sees specialists.
6. So what's next? A sequel?
No sequel. At least not in the foreseeable future. I have my head firmly in three other stories right now. I hope to have my next novel ready for publication in the fall of 2006. Song if the Lost Clan is a fantasy about a clan of displaced elephants from their perspective. It's based on a real event and explores what can happen to a society that relies heavily on learned social behavior when the mature adults are violently removed. Elephants are not unlike humans in that respect. I'm very excited about it.
7. I know this question plagued me the whole book. Imilce. How much was truth and how much fiction?
Most of it was fiction. The histories tell us that Hannibal had an Iberian princess named Imilce for a wife and that she bore him a son. The two were said to have been in love. The rest is fiction.
8. What about the women warriors?
Mostly fiction. History makes many references to fierce, women fighters among the central european tribes. The Amazons in particular. We know that these tribes were sometimes matriarchal or matrilineal...or both. I chose to make the women of Imilce's tribe fighters both to help illustrate that cultural aspect and to give Hannibal's and Imilce's relationship a twist.