The books shown on the left are by K.L. Coones. Click on the cover to order.
This interview was conducted by
Chris Phillips on
August 15, 2012.
Chris Phillips: Why did you choose Pontius? That era?
K.L. Coones: Pontius provided a unique opportunity when it comes to well known historical figures. After his exile to Gaul, documentation on him ends
almost completely except for a reference to a head stone found in Gaul
bearing his name. This leave room for a storyteller to do backflips! It provides a perfect opportunity for a good ‘what if’ story without having to rewriting history. To be honest, I am amazed no one has done it before now.
Rome, and the roman aristocracy are a great soap opera in themselves, so they lend nicely to drama, and both Judea and Rome provides a great
backdrop to a story. Caligula has long thought to have been insane at the time of his ascension to dictatorship in Rome, or was driven mad shortly thereafter. I thought it would be interesting to give history buff a reason, all be it a fictional one, for his insanity. What drove Caligula insane? Read Absolom Rex and find out!
Chris Phillips: Where was your inspiration about the mistakes Pontius made, history or creative license?
K.L. Coones: Many of the scenarios Pontius encounters in the first half of the book, as the governor of Judea are chronicled history, either by Suetonius,
Josephus, or Philo. For the purposes of the story his actions during those scenarios are fictionalized, and that is where the creative license comes into play. I found it challenging to fictionalize the historical accounts, and fill in the gaps with actions readers would find believable within the context of the historical account. This is where Pontius’ fear comes to the fore. Fear destroys people, both in the book and in real life, and that is something I think readers can relate too.
Chris Phillips: Was it a historical fact that Pontius was exiled to Gaul?
K.L. Coones: Yes. There is a lot of debate about what happened to him after his exiled. Some say he committed suicide because of his destitute situation, others make a claim that he actually became a christian after his exile. Eusebius of Caesarea, a Roman historian admittedly after the fact, contends that Pontius Pilate was exiled to Gaul and his ultimate demise.
Chris Phillips: Why did you not complete Pontius' search for Jesus?
K.L. Coones: By the time Pontius is recalled to Rome, the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ is four years old, a further length of time (historically in AD 38 to 41) passes when Pilate is exiled to Gaul. What happens to him in Gaul consumes him as a character and his motivations turn to other pursuits (spoiler if I go into more details!). To Pontius, Jesus was just a man, and he does not witness the growth of christianity.
Chris Phillips: Do you have a name for the series?
K.L. Coones: Though they are a part of a series, each book can stand on its own as a
single entity. Perhaps in the future if an anthology is created from the individual stories, a name for the series might be in order.
Chris Phillips: How many books are you planning for Pontius' life story?
K.L. Coones: Two, for the most part. Absolom Rex and a follow up anthology of short
stories titled, Absolom Rex: At Ages End as a way to fill in the large gap of time between Absolom Rex and the second novel, for which I have yet to decide on an adequate title.
At Ages End, chronicles Absolom’s journey through a crumbling Roman empire and the entry of the world into the era known as the Dark Ages. I think people will really enjoy these stories. A Preview of this anthology is already available on Smashwords.com and Goodreads.com. The completed work should be available by the end of 2012.
Chris Phillips: Are you familiar with the information about Darkness Embraced and their theory about Judas?
K.L. Coones: In a round about way. I’ll explain. The initial wellspring for this idea was a movie called Dracula 2000, a very B rated horror flick. In it, at the end of the movie, they reveal that Dracula is actually Judas Iscariot.
I thought that was at least an interesting little twist on the Dracula
myth. I was also heavily influenced by scenes from ‘The Passion of the
Christ’ with Jim Caviezel. There is very quick scene with Judas hiding
under a bridge. To his left you see a boogie man pop out of the shadows and frighten him. I started wondering if the same thing could happen to Pontius Pilate, and if it did, how did it happen?
Chris Phillips: Why did you leave Agrippina so shallow, not describe more about her
history or origins?
K.L. Coones: I vacillate between regret in not developing her more and the fact that she served a very specific purpose in the narrative. Agrippina is a warning of what Pontius could become. On the outside, charming and powerful, but inside only an empty husk full of petulance and self serving desire. Totally self centered. I don’t like slapping readers upside the head with things, so I only allude to this danger to Pontius through her character.
Additionally, a story like this can easily become epic in proportions, 500+ pages of turgid character interaction and ever evolving character
development. I didn’t want something like that as a debut novel.
Nonetheless, criticism toward Agrippina’s character is well founded and has prompted me to beginning thinking about a novel for her! I think she could be a fascinating character to write about and would allow me to explore another ancient culture for her origins.
Chris Phillips:Who is Ramstein? I am presuming it is a person not the heavy metal German Rock band.
K.L. Coones: The next baddie I will introduce readers too. I like me some heavy metal from time to time, so his name is partly inspired by the band. The name also alludes to his Germanic origins. Names are very important to me, they can speak volumes about a character before the reader ever encounters the first written word about them. Ramstein is as heavy and hard a character as band of the same name. There won't be much room for readers to stay opinionless about him.
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