Written In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van ZandtWritten In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt

Publisher: Harper Collins (Nov. 29, 2016)
Category: Historical Fiction
Tour Dates: May, 2017
ISBN: 978-0062673688
Available in: Print & ebook,  554Pages
Written In the Ashes

Written in the Ashes is one of those rare novels that sets ‘history’ afire, to bathe readers in the glow of a greater, hotter truth. Fans of The Mists of Avalon will find this romantic/alchemical/feminist/spiritual epic equally captivating.”—Tom Robbins, bestselling author of Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. and Villa Incognito

In the bloody clash between Christians and pagans in fifth-century Alexandria, a servant girl becomes the last hope for preserving peace in this evocative and thrilling tale—a blend of history, adventure, religion, romance, and mysticism reminiscent of The Mists of Avalon.

After she is abducted from her home in the mountains of Sinai, Hannah is enslaved and taken to Alexandria, where she becomes the property of Alizar, an alchemist and pagan secretly working to preserve his culture. Revered for her beautiful singing voice, the young slave is invited to perform at the city’s Great Library, where she becomes friends with the revered mathematician and philosopher, Hypatia, as well as other pagans who curate its magnificent collections. Determined to help them uphold pagan culture and traditions, Hannah embarks on a dangerous quest to unite the fractured pieces of the Emerald Tablet—the last hope to save the pagans and create peace.

On this odyssey that leads her to the lost oracles of Delfi and Amun-Ra and to rediscovered ancient cities and rituals, Hannah will experience forbidden loves, painful betrayals, and poignant reunions. But her efforts may be in vain. Returning to Alexandria, Hannah finds a city engulfed in violence, even as her own romantic entanglements come to a head. Now, it’s not only her future, but the fate of all Alexandria that is at stake.

Praise for Written In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt

“In her captivating debut novel, Written in the Ashes, K. Hollan Van Zandt brings to life a fascinating and forgotten woman of history: Hypatia of Alexandria, who may have been one of the greatest female minds of all time. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to walk the streets of long ago Egypt, then look no further. You will be enthralled!”– Michelle Moran, international bestselling author of Nefertiti and Cleopatra’s Daughter

“Van Zandt’s vivid description of the Great Library instantly transported me to a lush fifth century Alexandria. Her lyrical writing style and breakneck storytelling kept me riveted to the very last page.”– Robin Maxwell bestselling author of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn and Signora da Vinci.

“Going back so far in time leaves an author with little written record to rely on for fact. The burning of the Great Library at Alexandria was a monumental loss to humanity. The facts of the matter aside, this novel was truly arresting and I had a hard time putting it down to get anything done.
Ancient history fascinates me. Religion fascinates me. This book manages to tie both together in a story that resonates through time.
The book was fascinating. The characters were well developed and I really didn’t want to leave this world of ancient Alexandria. The imaginary, magical priests and the beautiful goddesses created by Ms. Van Zandt lent themselves to a mystical world that was quite believable within its context. As the story unfolded I was rooting for Hannah to fulfill her destiny and find peace with her past. I am looking forward to the next chapters in these characters lives.”-Patty Woodland, Broken Teepee

Interview With K. Hollan Van Zandt

TR: Please tell us something about the book that is not in the summary.  (About the book, character you particularly enjoyed writing etc.)

KHVZ: One of my lead male protagonists in Written in the Ashes is Gideon, a brash but kind ship captain. I wrote 13 drafts of this novel, and he was only in 2 of them. He was in the first draft, in only one scene, (the caravan to the Siwa Oasis). Then I wrote him out of the book in the next draft. But in the final draft, the one that made it to publication, he swept in and commandeered half the book. He’s quite a man. Even as his author, I was impressed with his audacity. I believe Hannah was, as well.

TR: What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?

KHVZ: All the sex scenes, really. Sex scenes are difficult to write well, because you don’t want to be (ahem) anatomical, and yet you also don’t want to write too sparely, as this irritates the reader. I’m rather proud of the way these came out. You’ll have to read it to see for yourself!

TR: My favorite scene in ‘Written In the Ashes’ was the burning of the library in Alexandria, can you tell us more about that?

KHVZ: Thank you. In that series of scenes, all the fragile elements of the characters’ personal lives coalesce in a mad furnace as the greatest library in antiquity burns to the ground. As I wrote the first draft of the novel and came around the corner to the fire, I feared the scenes might not feel as authentic as they needed to because it had been quite a few years since I’d endured a hardship. Well, be careful what you wish for. The man I was in love with at the time who was my partner ended our relationship by cheating on me, and I was devastated. But as a writer, I was inwardly slightly relieved I wouldn’t need to fake any emotion during the writing of those scenes. It’s not to say it’s all tragic, because some of our favorite characters do endure, but the loss for all of humanity as well as for the life of Hypatia was truly a historic tragedy on a scale of 9/11.

TR: Tell us about your cover. Did you design it yourself?

KHVZ: I did pen the drawing of the Egyptian goddess, Isis, that Harper Collins used for the cover. I’m thrilled with the artwork. I’d want to read this book if I saw it on the shelf!

TR: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character for ‘Written In the Ashes’ in a movie?

KHVZ: The good news here is we’re currently shopping this novel for a TV series, so of course, I hope it gets made because that would be incredible. I don’t know, really, as far as stars go, except that I hope the casting would be true to the characters’ ethnicities.

TR: Can you tell us about your challenges in getting ‘Written In the Ashes published?

KHVZ: Ugh, it was brutal, honestly. My first literary agent failed to sell the book to over 100 publishers on 3 continents. Then he quit. The next literary agent I acquired I left because I didn’t feel she really cared about me or my book, and I didn’t want to partner her even if she was one of the top agents in Manhattan. I went on to self-publish. At a conference in 2011 I was on a panel (while 8 months pregnant with my son) with Claudia Boutote, who was then the Senior VP of Harper One. I gave her a copy of my novel, and she read it in 24hrs, and emailed me immediately the most enthusiastic letter. It made me cry. And it still took her determined efforts another 4 years to place the book in Harper Collins, with Harper Legend. The whole mad process has given me every grey hair on my head. But I’ve kept writing. I’ve completed 2 more novels, and plan to carry on, if only because writing is like my third lung, without it, I’m only partially alive, and actually, a bit insane because my creative brain is like a dog that needs to chew on a bone and if I don’t give it writing it goes to gnawing on my actual life, which can be a tad debilitating for me and the people I love.

TR: How completely do you develop your characters before beginning to write?

KHVZ: Zero. They all leap like Athena fully clad out of my head onto the page. I do give them birthdays and Zodiac signs, though, and occasionally I’ll write interviews out with them about one another so I know how they’re feeling about their relationships and circumstances.

TR: How does being a mother impact your writing?

KHVZ: You might expect I’d say it’s time consuming, but it doesn’t impact my writing at all. When I want to write, nothing stops me. I get up at 5 a.m., make tea, and set my jaw. I write after he falls asleep. I write notes on my phone in the car once I’ve parked to get him at school. We make time in life for what matters to us, I suppose, and I’ve found writing matters quite a lot to me.

TR: What writers have you drawn inspiration from?

KHVZ: Early on it was Tom Robbins (Still Life with Woodpecker), Ernest Hemingway (A Moveable Feast), J.M. Coetzee (Waiting for the Barbarians), Ben Okri (The Famished Road), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Love in a Time of Cholera), everything by Pablo Neruda. Now I read mostly memoirs—the lives of real people are so much richer and more stunning than most fiction. I highly recommend Sidney Poitier’s memoir, The Measure of a Man, and Helen McDonald’s H is for Hawk, as well as Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club.

TR: What do you do when you are not writing?

KHVZ:  I surf, watch the clouds, play with my son. Oh, and I have a day job. You know, a woman at a lecture the other night after hearing I’m a novelist promptly asked, “Is that your real job?” Everyone always asks that, because you’re instantly invalidated as an artist if you answer “No”, because the patriarchy measures your worth only by how you earn a living. My response was, “No, but Emily Dickenson never earned a dime for a single poem while she was alive, did you know that? Would you say it made her work less important?” That line usually sends the questioner off to search for a libation.

TR: What book/s are you reading at present?

KHVZ: I’m reading The Warrior Woman, by Maxine Hong Kingston. When I was 20 years old my best friend died in a tragic accident. She had lent me this book, and I had put it in storage. I opened it a few weeks ago to discover she’d written loads of notes in the margins. Now I feel like I’m reading this book and walking in the park with my friend at the same time. I will forever write in the margins of all my books from now on. She even wrote notes like, “I can hear an owl outside my window right now.” I LOVE that.

TR: Imagine you have entered the ‘Twilight Zone’, write on how a writer of fiction gets discovered to have really written about her own life.

KHVZ: This one, only because it’s very true of the book I wrote last year, which was a story unlike any I’ve written before in that it was pure poetic justice and dramatic personal catharsis. (Though I suppose it was me who did the discovering.) I intentionally wrote about several people from my past in a need to set their memory down so it would stop haunting me. It’s entirely possible those people will read this book (though I doubt they will) and recognize themselves, but then, it would be hard to ever beat Martin Amis at this game with his book, The Information.

About K. Hollan Van ZandtWritten In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt

Kaia Van Zandt is a celebrated author and teacher whose novel, Written in the Ashes, chronicles the events that led up to the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria, Egypt. Kaia’s spiritual journey began at age 14 when she founded the youth division of the Humane Society of the United States. Then as a junior in high school, she traveled to the Earth Summit in Brazil, where she taught meditation, and was given the opportunity to work with world leaders on the challenges facing humanity and the planet today, an experience that profoundly influenced her work.

She’s a graduate of Antioch University, where she focused on the intersection between the ancient Goddess traditions and modern culture. Her fascination with healing-both personally and collectively – led her to yoga. During her career she’s worked with thought leaders like Marci Shimoff and Deepak Chopra, actors like Ashley Judd, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Garry Shandling, as well as Sony ImageWorks, UCLA Medical, and the San Francisco 49ers. Her beloved writing mentor is bestselling novelist/humorist, Tom Robbins.

Website: www.kaiavanzandt.com

Facebook: https://business.facebook.com/Kaia-H-Van-Zandt-62326196268/?business_id=1527166044253916
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaiaVanZandt
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kaiavanzandt/?hl=en
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbpNRBX9k7z1bJndQ2a4Rgg

Buy Written In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt (ebook only $0.99 May 29-July 3)


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Written In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt