Today I am on the Blog Tour for Seven Hundred Seventy and I am here with an author interview for you all.
Before I share that though, here’s some information on the book.
Title: Seven Hundred Seventy Author: Bogdan Boeru Publisher: Clink Street Publishing Published: 3rd August 2021 Format: Paperback Source: N/A Summary: The novel plays with the existing, still unsolved, historical mysteries surrounding the reasons behind the banishment of the Antiquity’s great Latin poet, Ovid, to Tomis, a Greek colony by the Black Sea, as well as the circumstances of his death there and the location of his tomb.
Far more than a simple fiction based on the last years of Ovid’s life in Tomis, the novel weaves an intricate tapestry of the Roman Empire in the first two decades of the 1st century AD.
Readers will walk through the very real, rigorously documented and vividly brought to life slums of extravagant and sophisticated Rome, and are treated to street performances, life and death back alley fights, brothel incursions, gladiatorial arenas, terrifying close-up battle accounts, the smells and tastes of the underbelly of Rome, the ancient everyday brought to life in high definition colour and sound.
What is your favourite thing about writing books? I love the whole process of writing a book, from the moment I get an idea and feel it beginning to take shape in my mind, going through the stage of building my characters and doing my research, to the moment when, after I have finished my book, I let it breathe for a while and go back to it once or several times and polish it into an acceptable form. Whenever I leaf through one of my published books, I usually find things which could have been put differently or might have need some extra work, but this is part of the pleasure of being an author. There will always be something and then more and more things that could have been worded better. It’s kind of an intellectual masochism. I even like the writer’s blocks because they are challenges which need to be faced. But, in truth, what I like best about writing books are those moments when I sleep at night and a dialogue line or perhaps an idea springs to my still working mind and I wake up to put it down so that I don’t forget it until morning. It’s a unique type of delight to catch such elusive scraps in the middle of the night. It is like being on a journey with a predefined destination and accidently, or not, stumbling upon clues which clarify your road ahead or bring you closer to the endpoint. In fact, as a writer, the only expectation you can realistically have of your book is for its writing process to offer enough pleasure to make it worth doing it.
Who is your favourite character in your book and why? Being born and raised in Constanta (the modern name of ancient Tomis, the place where Ovid was banished) it is obvious that the character of the great Latin poet is very dear to me. However, Corvus’s character is at least equally dear to my heart. He is a very likeable villain as he has been deemed by my readers and critics alike, his appeal stemming precisely from the fact that he is a creation of circumstances beyond his control. Threads of both fantasy and realism are interwoven in his story, making his destiny both extraordinary and highly relatable at the same time. Life throws him into situations he does not wish to be in. A hired assassin would have paid a fortune for Corvus’s innate skills. Yet he possesses them and is forced to make full use of them to survive, although all he wants to do is rescue his step-sister and nothing else.
What is your favourite drink to consume while writing? I don’t drink when I write. A few years ago I would have answered promptly and unequivocally: coffee. These days I don’t even drink coffee when I write. Alcohol or energy drinks are out of the question. I need a clear mind when I build a narrative.
Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing? Ten or twelve years ago I would have answered: smoking. In the meantime I have given up smoking. Not because of artistic reasons but rather for my health. It seems that I am a rather boring guy when I write, aren’t I? Well, I, for one, am not bored at all. I write because I love doing it and find no time to be bored.
How did you research your book? When I research my books, I usually start by looking for works which offer a panoramic view of the age in which I am to set my story. I find it extremely important to have a good grasp of the overall feel of the times and places I will be working in. Then I go into depth for the details. For Seven Hundred Seventy I read many monographies on Ovid’s life and works, studies on ancient Romans’ war techniques; I especially researched the battle of Teutoburg, featured in the book. Then I studied the particularities of life in the empire cities. I paid special attention to Tomis and Histria which I studied separately as they were Greek colonies at the periphery of the Roman Empire. I read about Greek cuisine at the time, studied numismatics books, Roman architecture and even came across several detailed maps of Mogontiacum and Rome. I can guarantee that even the street names and neighbourhoods in Rome presented in the novel, are in fact the existing ones from the beginning of the1st century AD.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? As I mentioned before, I like to build my characters and my narrative carefully. I am not an impulse writer. Before sitting down to actually write, I take detailed notes on my research material and my characters.
If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why? I am incurably in love with history. Therefore, the worlds I would like to visit are in fact times I would like to travel to. I enjoyed watching the HBO TV series Rome some years ago and, more recently, Vikings. However, those were not exactly easy times, were they? I am not sure if a person endowed with a healthy sense of self-preservation would actually like to live in those times. Yet, my sense of preservation will not hold back my sense of adventure which promotes me to imagine adventures and fuels my yearning to at least visit those times. I can’t say that fantasy worlds like those in Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings mesh well with my interest in history because much as I like to bring worlds into life I also like to anchor them in a well-defined historical context.
If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why? One of my all times favourite characters is William of Baskerville from The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. I would have loved to meet that sagacious man with such a penetrating mind and razor-sharp spirit, based, as you might know, on no other than Sherlock Holmes. The relationship that I would have liked to build with William of Baskerville is not necessarily that between him and Adso of Merk as in Eco’s novel, but rather that between Holmes and Dr. Watson. I appreciate the fact that Eco gave his character that note of crazy passion which humanizes him. In fact, William of Baskerville would have died trying to save the books from the abbey’s library. One more thing… I would have liked to have a glass of wine with Alexis Zorba, Nikos Kazantsakis’s famous character. But I certainly wouldn’t have done business with him…
About the Author
Bogdan Boeru is a published novelist, essayist, poet and playwright from Romania. Over his 20-year literary career, he has written two novels, four short-story collections, three poetry volumes, two essay collections and a play. Bogdan Boeru’s fictional world combines his love of history with his passion for fine arts and music. He is not only a scholar of ancient history, a former heavy metal band lead vocalist, bass player and music writer, but he is also a visual artist who enjoys creating ink drawings full of symbolic, spiritual and ethereal imagery. Having a keen interest in world’s cultural patrimony, Bogdan is an avid collector of vintage and rare books and contemporary paintings. His interests and his multifaceted creativity all find an outlet in his prose, infusing it with the passion and effervescence of imagination but also with a deep reverence for the integrity of historical facts.
His novel Seven Hundred Seventy has enjoyed enthusiastic critical acclaim and has been translated in English, Italian, Russian and Bulgarian. The novel is a homage to Ovidius Publius Naso, the great Latin poet banished to Tomis, an ancient Greek colony under Roman administration by Pontus Euxinus (now the Black Sea). The title of the novel refers to the year of Ovid’s death, 770, according to the Roman calendar. Bogdan is a Tomitan himself. Only that these days, Tomis is called Constanta by the Black Sea, Romania. Tomitans claim Ovid as their own just as the Latins and the whole world does as well. Countless books of both historical study and fiction have been dedicated to beloved Ovid. What sets this novel apart is its fresh and original take on Ovid’s figure, its playing with the mysteries surrounding the reasons behind his banishment to Tomis, as well as the circumstances of his death there and the location of his tomb. The narrative is meticulously constructed to support and justify any of the three possible endings to Ovid’s life put forth by the novel, leaving the readers the ultimate freedom to choose. An important role in this equation is played by the second unsolved mystery connected to Ovid, namely the location of his grave. The novelist will not elucidate the two mysteries as his intention is to provoke the readers to put the puzzle pieces together in such a way as to come up with a personal image of the great poet’s death. The novelist has intimated that his ultimate purpose has been to revive two ancient worlds (Rome and Tomis) and bring them into the present in a way which is attractive to the young and seasoned reader alike, so that history is not seen as boring and dead but rather as a living entity, very much present, informing and enriching our lives even today.