I once asked one of my high school English teachers what it took to be a writer. She told me “life experience.” I had no idea what that was. Now I know. It means I don’t have to do a lot of research.
My first novel is The Key of Theseus, an archaeological adventure. Set on Crete, it is the story of Benny, a middle-aged failed archaeologist who has come to the island in an attempt to salvage his career. The backdrop of the novel is the ancient Minoan civilization, one I find to be fascinating, and very different from any other Mediterranean culture. The island of Crete is a beautiful location that has an air of the exotic about it. Consisting of mainly mountains interspersed with plains in the center, it is crisscrossed by numerous unmarked roads. A common feature when traveling in Greece. It requires a good sense of direction, and several maps, all of which are different, and wrong, and a great deal of courage to traverse the island. The locations in the book are set in real archaeological sites, including both Knossos and Phaistos.
My second novel is Of Sand and Blood. It is historical fiction set in 1st century AD Italy. The work is a realistic look into the world of the gladiator, one of the best known features of the ancient Romans. It would be difficult to find anyone who has not heard of gladiators, but, much of what has been portrayed about them is incorrect. The fact is, very little is known about gladiators or the life they lived. There are only a few references in ancient texts concerning gladiators, plus some mosaics depicting scenes from the arena. Depictions in films and books are mostly a glamorized version of what was a form of human sacrifice.
Men, and a few women, were pitted against one another in a battle to the death. But not all contests ended in death; if the loser entertained the audience, he might be spared. And winning did not guarantee life. A poor showing could lead to the death of both men. Although it is referred to as a sport, make no mistake, it was no game.
At present I am polishing up another work. It is a comedy adventure and very different from the previous works. The main characters are an ex-con Wall Street broker who served time for securities fraud, and is now accused of murdering her former boss. And a washed-up children’s author who children are burning in effigy outside bookstores. A match made in heaven!
Michael Royea received a Bachelor’s degree in Classical Studies and Fine Art in 1991 from Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec and a Master’s Degree in Classical Archaeology in 1994 from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. In 1991 he attended an archaeological field school at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, then returned in subsequent years as a field assistant. He began teaching part-time at Bishop’s in September 1995 and continues to the present. He created a minors course in archaeology, developed several new courses. Michael also introduced travel courses, first to the American Southwest and then to Greece. He is currently putting the finishing touches on another novel, a work of historical fiction concerning the world of gladiators in the 1st century AD, as well as a companion travel guide to other ancient cultures in the American southwest.
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