Writing the Gladiatrix
By Michelle Miles
I’m excited to be here today talking about my latest release with DCL Publications, Phoenix Fire. It’s the story about a gladiatrix and her assassin lover.
Here’s the blurb:
Kill, or be killed.
Elena Gaius is Hixyl’s most heralded gladiatrix, catching the Emperor’s eye with her unspoiled beauty and fiery temper. Determined to let no man have her, he forces her into a life of unwanted accolades—for slaughter in the Games. With independence out of reach, Elena knows each day could be her last.
Cassius Antonius is a former general hired by an underground secret order to assassinate the Emperor. When he refuses, they take away the only thing precious to him—his freedom. Forced into servitude, he meets Elena and manipulates her into helping him, forming a shaky alliance and a searing romance.
The two become unwitting pawns in the struggle to save Hixyl from the Emperor’s tyranny. But plans spin out of control with the discovery of their secret tryst, and for their ultimate act of betrayal, the Emperor demands one last entertainment—to be pitted against each other in the Games in a fight to the death.
|Kill or be killed ...|
I dreamed the story. Specifically, the heroine, Elena. I distinctly remember when I woke up what the story would be about. Elena was tough and strong. She was forced to fight in the arena against men, earning her right to live another day. I had specific imagines in my mind about what would happen and how it would happen. And the worst part of it all was she would have to fight her lover in the arena in a fight to the death. These things I knew for certain. I just didn’t know exactly why she was forced to fight or how she had become a gladiatrix.
That morning, I thought about it the entire time I got ready for work. I chanted the story over and over in my head while I drove through rush hour. As soon as I got to my computer, I started typing out the synopsis. I had it completed in about twenty minutes and I knew I had to write it. I knew I had to tell Elena’s story.
As I started writing, I began to discover things about Elena. I wrong a long, intend prologue about her early life in an orphanage. I based my world on Ancient Rome. In the early draft, I did call it Rome just to give myself a place holder for when I could figure out what to call my world. My world had centaurs and nymphs and other mystical creatures. There’s a chariot race and numerous fights in the arena. There’s an evil Emperor, a Senator who wants to control the government himself, and an assassin determined to gain his freedom.
That was over two years ago when I first conceived and wrote it. It will be published sometime this year (hopefully in the near future!) with DCL Publications. But it took a while to sell it. I lost track of how many rejections I received for it but I was determined. It was only after I took Margie Lawson’s Deep Edits class that I realized what the opening line of the story should be:
Elena lived to kill and killed to live.
It set the tone for the entire story. That short eight word sentence, to me, speaks volumes about who Elena is and why she kills.
It would be a long hard journey for her as she fought for her freedom, knowing she would never have a chance at it. That she would have to fight in the arena until the day she died. Until she met Cassius. He changed everything for her. He offered her hope and gave her a taste of what it could be like to be free. He convinced her to help him assassinate the Emperor and she agreed, knowing with his death, she could walk away from her days as a gladiatrix forever. But her freedom wouldn’t come without a price—her life or Cassius’s.
It was one of the most difficult stories I’ve ever written. I loved every minute of it. :) Difficult because I wanted Elena’s story to be real. I wanted to show her fighting in the arena against the other gladiators. I wanted the reader to experience watching a chariot race through her eyes. Hopefully, I’ve accomplished that.
Michelle Miles writes contemporary, fantasy and paranormal romance and is published with Samhain Publishing, Cobblestone Press, Ellora’s Cave and DCL Publications. For more information about her books, visit her website at http://www.michellemiles.net.