Happy Tuesday, everyone! I’m so excited to welcome C.V. Wyk, author of the upcoming YA novel Blood and Sand to NovelKnight today! If y’all haven’t heard of this historical genderbent Spartacus tale, you definitely want to get it on your TBR. And if you don’t believe me, check out my raving review!
Today, C.V. Wyk will be talking about what inspired this action-packed book!
The Inspiration Behind Blood and Sand
When I was 12, I spent a summer reading and re-reading “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Even though I was way too young to appreciate the political nuances and complexities and sexy bits, the story wasn’t completely inaccessible. I was already familiar with the Arthurian legend—I knew who the characters were (generally) and what they did. But by focusing on the women in King Arthur’s life, Bradley’s book challenged everything I thought I knew and forced a new perspective on me. It was like a personal challenge to question narratives—fiction or otherwise—and try to see a story from a completely new angle. So if BLOOD AND SAND had a literary genealogy, you would be able to trace it back to that summer and that book and that author. Other inspirations came later, of course, and dipped their fingers into the book’s gene pool: Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine, the Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, and, more recently, The Hunger Games trilogy and Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. In short, I think I’ve been writing BLOOD AND SAND for a very long time, even before I knew the characters or the genre or put words to paper.
I won’t lie—blockbusters of the past few years have definitely influenced the setting I chose, movies and TV series I thoroughly enjoyed like “Gladiator,” “300,” and Starz’s “Spartacus.” There was just something about ancient Rome that appealed to the history major in me, and that set me on a research course (big ole nerd that I am). While researching Spartacus, I found that nearly all the primary sources mentioning the figure were totally contradictory. I learned as a history major that historical documents are not infallible nor are they immune to the political or social discourse of the eras in which they are written, and women have been erased from history books for centuries. It suddenly seemed entirely plausible that historians and politicians would want to rewrite or erase the identity of the rebel leader who nearly toppled an empire, especially if that figure was a teenage girl. Once I had that possibility in my head—that alternate perspective, a challenge to the narrative—I had to see it through. I had to explore what rebellion, slavery, identity, social mores, and resistance in the ancient world would have looked like through the eyes of the most oppressed, especially a young woman of color.
My undergraduate senior thesis was about female pirates in the 18th century Caribbean and how they both defied and rewrote gender roles on the open seas. Women who slay have been shaping me and my principles since childhood. I love that so many YA books are coming out about girls in leadership positions, whether they’re warriors or mages or political dissidents or teens simply trying to carve out their place in the world. Even now, teen girls (and their interests) are so often portrayed as weak, fickle, silly, and shallow—all terms that are used to constantly to disempower them as a general group. It’s not a new trend, but it’s one that the YA community is not only recognizing but actively fighting against. I hope that readers find BLOOD AND SAND an exciting new addition to an already fantastic lineup.
Published on January 16, 2018 by Tor Teen
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
Buy the Book!
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The action-packed tale of a 17-year-old warrior princess and a handsome gladiator who dared take on the Roman Republic--and gave rise to the legend of Spartacus....
Roma Victor. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to build an empire--an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.
Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master's favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.
Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end--and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus....
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Tor Teen is offering up 3 hardcovers of Blood and Sand! Open to US/Canada residents only. You must be 12 years or older to enter.