Monday, August 15, 2022

Q&A with Megan Edwards




Megan Edwards is the author of the new novel A Coin for the Ferryman. Her other books include Strings: A Love Story. She lives in Las Vegas.


Q: What inspired you to write A Coin for the Ferryman?


A: Way back when I was a classics major at Scripps College, I visited the Getty Villa in Malibu, California, for the first time. The Getty Villa is a reconstructed copy of a Roman villa that was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius back in 79 C.E.


As I walked around the buildings and grounds, I wondered what a real ancient Roman might think of it all. So much would be familiar, and yet so much would also be weird: the elevators, the parking garage, electric lights, air conditioning, bright blue chlorinated pools, and so on.


This thought stuck in my head and expanded as time went by. What would a Roman think about our world in general? In time, the ancient Roman became Julius Caesar, and a novel was born.


Q: You note in your acknowledgments that it took 20 years for the book to be written--how did you arrive at this version of the novel?


A: I wrote the novel—my first—and signed with my first agent. When the manuscript failed to sell, I went back to work and wrote several other novels. I still liked my Caesar story, though, so I decided to throw out the first version and write the whole thing over from scratch.


In the end, I was glad the first version of the book wasn’t published. I think the time I spent thinking about the story combined with more writing experience made it a better book. Another unexpected benefit of extended time was that I met people who gave me insights over the years, including a Scottish astrophysicist who gave me ideas for how a time machine might work.

Q: How did you research the book, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I read everything I could find about Julius Caesar and the era in which he lived. It’s truly surprising how much is known about that period even though two millennia have passed. I found all this daunting until I reminded myself that there is still much that is unknown.


I found I was able to use the historical record as a springboard and allow my imagination to fill in the gaps with what I hope is plausible fiction. It was a challenging thought experiment to imagine, for example, the details of Caesar’s relationship with Cleopatra.


Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: The title was chosen because coins play important roles in the story, particularly one coin that is an OOPArt—an out-of-place artifact.


A “coin for the ferryman” refers to the fare required by the mythical Charon, who piloted the recently demised across the River Styx to the underworld. Because Julius Caesar is transported to our world moments before his assassination on the Ides of March and will return to that same moment, the title is appropriately ominous.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: My current work in progress is the third installment in my Copper Black mystery series, a whodunit titled Graveyard Bowling. I’m also involved in a nonfiction project that’s in its earliest stages and still under the radar. So many ideas! So little time!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: A beautiful gold coin was minted to celebrate the launch of A Coin for the Ferryman. I still have a few left, and I’d be happy to send one to anyone who’d like one. All I need is a mailing address sent to me at (I promise not to use it for any other purpose!)


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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