Meet C. V. Wyk.
She was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She has lived in five states in the continental US (and hopes to add a few international locales to that list). Prone to wanderlust and getting lost, Wyk likes to explore local hiking trails, mountain ranges, dark caves where nefarious mythical creatures undoubtedly reside, and libraries. She currently lives in Maryland with a precocious mini poodle and a demanding guinea pig. In her not-so-spare time, she enjoys playing MMORPGs, kayaking, coding, staring listlessly at blank walls, and nursing a totally healthy coffee addiction.
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You probably get asked this a lot … but why Ancient Rome? I haven’t seen many Ancient Rome YA novels recently and I’m curious as to what sparked the creation of BLOOD AND SAND.
A lot of SFF and historical books inspired the characters, but the setting of ancient Rome was inspired by more recent visual blockbusters like Gladiator, 300, the Spartacus TV show on Starz, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I think I have a soft spot for swords (no pun intended). As for the story, it began with a single line—actually, the very first line: They called them slaves. It was then that I knew I was going to write a story about a rebellion, but instead of reaching for a dystopian future, I decided to go back to the beginning, in a way. To one of the first great rebel leaders recorded in history: Spartacus.
How much research did you put into BLOOD AND SAND? Any fun facts you remember and want to share?
Weeks and weeks and weeks of research, and I’m still learning more as I work on the sequel, FIRE AND ASH. One of the funniest things I learned was just how much the citizens of Pompeii loved their erotic art. They even painted phallic symbols onto jars and urns. Fun folks.
When writing, did any aspect of the story surprise you as it came to live?
I was surprised by how much I ended up sympathizing with morally problematic characters like Valeria, who is a Roman slave-owner. But it only helped me realize that even the villains can’t be one-dimensional. Every character in BLOOD AND SAND has his or her own cross to bear, as it were.
Plotting vs pantsing – what do you prefer?
My instinct is to pants it, but experience is slowly teaching me that writing that way only leads to longer periods of editing haha. I’m trying to discipline myself to write more thoughtfully, more carefully, and to look ahead to better see what kind of story I’m trying to tell.
A history professor always used to tell me about how history was written by the victors and the losers’ stories rarely came to light. Do you feel BLOOD AND SAND speaks for the victors or the losers in Roman history? Fictionally speaking of course.
I think it speaks for the silenced. When we are first introduced to Attia in BLOOD AND SAND, she says, “History only serves the winner. Roma victrix.” But every action, every decision, every connection she makes from then on is a challenge to that statement, and the book itself is the story of those who have long been relegated to the shadows. By the end, every one of them will have had to decide the cost, the worth of their cause, what a victorious end would look like, and just how much they are willing to sacrifice for that victory.
What was your favorite part and then least favorite part about brining a legend to life?
My favorite part was imagining the fight scenes. I wanted both Attia and Xanthus to be the heroes we needed, and part of that meant being able to absolutely kick ass when needed. My least favorite part was accepting that a story about slaves in ancient Rome (even an alternative history) wouldn’t be honest without accepting the abuse that occurred too often. Lucretia was a heartbreaking character to write, but so very necessary.
Is there anything you’d like to share with the readers today?
I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be at the point where I can share this story with you. Thank you so very much for your support and enthusiasm as BLOOD AND SAND makes its debut!
BLOOD AND SAND is out today!
Grab your copy ASAP!