Carol Roberts and I met through Twitter. We follow many of the same authors and fellow writers. I’m always on the lookout for new authors and books in different genres. Carol is a freelance writer with particular interest in cultural myth. Originally from Vienna, she has spent all of her adult life in the Far North of New Zealand. Her work took her to several different countries, where she indulged her fascination with stories, particularly those dealing with the creation of man. Atlantis is her first full length novel. When I decided to review her book for this issue, I also asked her to do this Q&A for our readers.
1. You’ve travelled all over the world. What do you enjoy most about New Zealand where you currently live?
I live in the far north, which is a very remote part of NZ, and I am privileged to enjoy the most beautiful of beaches and quiet, rural living.
2. When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?
During my times of travel I took a lot of notes about places and people, and when I first settled in NZ, I submitted articles to a travel magazine. But my real interest lies with stories that survive the ages – be that in oral tradition or written word. To me, these types of stories often convey aspects of man’s nature, which is what I like to think and write about.
3. According to your bio, you write visionary/metaphysical genre cross fantasy what exactly is that and why does it appeal to you?
Visionary fiction generally has a meaningful element in it – be that spiritual, psychological or philosophical. It offers entertainment, but can also be thought-provoking. Metaphysical elements are generally present and could be dreams, visions or psychic abilities. If a plot depends on more than that, it crosses into fantasy.
4. Why did you select Atlantis as the setting for your first novel?
Atlantis is one of those enduring myths that caught my attention. Its name appears for the first time in a book written by Plato in 355 B.C. Plato was a philosopher who had planned to write a trilogy of books discussing the nature of man. Only the book of Atlantis was ever completed, so it remains a speculative question of how he had intended to expand on it in his trilogy. For me it was the perfect setting to write a thought-provoking story.
5. What influenced your vision for the physical representation of Atlantis and its people?
In terms of the physical appearance of Atlantis I made this easy for myself by following Plato’s’ descriptions. In terms of its people, however, I refrained from associating them with the culture of Ancient Greece. In Plato’s’ words, the Atlantean culture was highly developed, but then he places its existence 9000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age. That puts it into the timeframe of a civilisation pre-dating the ‘Great Flood’ in terms of Biblical accounts. The first culture to emerge after the floods was that of the ancient Sumerians in Mesopotamia. So in order to stay somewhat true to the time-frame, the gods and temple-rituals are those of ancient Sumeria.
6. In your vision of Atlantean society, women can be high priestesses, but in general, they are not treated as equals to men. Was this a plot device or do you believe the lost city of Atlantis would have had this sort of society?
This again mirrors ancient Sumeria, where women could hold powerful priestly positions, whereas politics was based on strength, and thus a man’s world.
7. You have strong male and female characters in Atlantis. What interests you more, their strengths or their imperfections?
I like to explore the psychology of both. How does a person deal with their lot? What makes them ultimately genuine or corrupt?
8. How do you develop and balance the various subplots within your work to keep them from overpowering the main plot?
Atlantis was challenging in that respect: Here are a people, living their daily lives, running their daily businesses; something terrible is brewing, and yet they are completely unaware of it. And what is it that is simmering just below the surface, creating tensions in the atmosphere, ultimately provoking a chain-reaction? So the story moves along in two dimensions. Think of it as a thread that weaves from the superficialities of the visible into the depths of the invisible and then out again; every ‘subplot’ being but a piece of the puzzle that gets solved in the end.
9. Do you believe in destiny? Is it the same as fate or are there subtle differences?
If destiny refers to a point where one is fully formed and starts to make one’s own decisions, yes. A more modern word for it is condition, which, the more difficult, the more challenging. Yes, condition has a likelihood of outcome; but that’s where awareness and choices come into it. Fate could be what one attracts on one’s path – good or bad – which enables experience and reflection. Awareness is formed in that process and choices are made for better or worse.
10. When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do?
I am trying to balance work with surfing, some mountain biking, reading and writing.
11. What’s your next project?
I am currently editing Tower of Babel. So I am moving forward in time, and this novel is set in ancient Babylon (Sumerian culture).
Atlantis is available on amazon.com and is featured this month on our Author’s Page. Follow her on Twitter: @authorRobertsC