The Author's History
I wrote my first "book" at the age of twelve, entitled MR. MUMMY CLEANS HOUSE. It was a children's picture book, lost many years ago.
The story begins with Mr. Mummy learning that there are archeologists in his neighborhood. Of course, he wants to clean his Pyramid before they arrive. In short; he and his pet dog, Anubis, go to Cairo for cleaning supplies and return just in time to have his Pyramid clean and Mr Mummy back in his sarcophagus before the archeologists find him.
Throughout grade school I wrote many short stories on a number of topics and circulated them among my classmates. I recall a teacher handing out graded written assignments and telling the class there are definitely some future writers in this group. She put forth two names and I was irked to be left out. A fellow student blurted out, "And Robert" to which she responded with a sneer and a halfhearted mumble of agreement. I'm sure the lackluster paper in my hand reflected her enthusiastic reaction to the suggestion that I would produce anything more than a sloppy paragraph or two on a boring subject.
At fifteen, I started my first Sci-Fi epic. It was a tale of betrayal and revenge in space. Several more attempts to create a masterpiece in the cosmos followed. The overly complicated works are packed away in my mother's garage, except for the one that was completely lost due to an unintended keystroke on my first clunky laptop. I sincerely hope the rest remain entombed.
True inspiration came at the end of my teens. In 1991; Masterpiece Theater reran the mini-series I, CLAUDIUS. I had enjoyed the saga when I first watched it at the age of five. With a sheet as my toga, I gave speeches to my stuffed animals arranged on the staircase, like the steps of the Senate House. Watching the series again rekindled my interest in Roman history, and set my writing aspirations on to a different path.
Robert Graves brought Claudius and his family to life for me. I have read I, Claudius and Claudius the God countless times. It is the perfect story. The poor outcast left to watch the rest of his family betray each other, outlives them all, and becomes Emperor. Sex, murder, exile and redemption...this tale has it all!
Graves's portrait of Livia Drusilla makes her quite the villain. The great lady schemes and murders without a hint of remorse. Poor Livia, does she deserve such a portrayal?
I decided that my "great novel" would be a redemption of Livia's character. I began studying the ancient sources and made my outline for the manuscript. I researched more, and wrote more. The evil view of Livia is difficult to shake, yet it is hard to believe she could have accomplished killing so many people. I have struggled to put a benign voice to Livia. The project, now many years in the making, still sits unfinished but not forgotten. From time to time I hear Livia whisper you owe me my epic. I have every intention of obliging her; the problem is that I constantly hear the shouts of Marcellus begging me, I'm in a jam, help me!