Join us as we peek behind the scenes of our upcoming anthology, ON TIME. Learn more about KA Masters in her featured interview.
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
“Per Aquas Ad Astra” is a historical fantasy concerning the life of the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s lover Antinous. I was inspired by this piece from a visit to Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli, Italy, where the emperor created a shrine (Serapeum) in honor of his dead lover.
Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?
Antinous was a middle-class youth from a small town in Bithynia (north eastern Turkey). Historically, he met the Roman Emperor Hadrian by chance, and the Emperor fell desperately in love with him. Antinous became part of the emperor’s retinue, and travelled the world with Hadrian until his mysterious death a few short years later. I envision Antinous as overwhelmed and terrified by the new world he is thrown into, and how little his middle-class lifestyle in a small town prepared him for the intrigues of the Roman imperial court.
What is the most interesting thing about the world you’ve created?
I tried to be true to the mysticism of the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s life; he spent his entire reign in search of himself. He joined numerous religious festivals, installed shrines and temples in every place he visited during his travels across the empire, and kept astrologers and various priests at hand as advisors. After Antinous’ death, I feel that he was searching for his lover’s ghost, too.
What genre or mix of genres does your story fit into?
Although my story is set in the historical Roman empire, there are elements of mysticism and high fantasy as well. I began the story well grounded in reality, beginning in a fullery [a Roman laundromat that traditionally uses human urine for its detergent], but the tale ends with disembodied spirits finding their homes among the stars.
How have your personal experiences influenced this story?
I was able to visit Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli as part of a study abroad program when I was in college nearly twenty years ago. At the time, I was obsessed with the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the author of the philosophical book The Meditations. But as I visited the Serapeum, I was overcome with a profound sadness as I imagined the emperor building temples and shrines to keep the memory of his lover alive.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
I would like for my readers to understand the utter tragedy that was Antinous’ life. That he was a normal teenager thrust into a lifestyle that he could not comprehend, expected to perform and function in a society he knew nothing about, with little to no support from friends, family, or peers. His death was tragic but unavoidable.
What was your favorite part of the story to write and why?
I love the deliberately ambiguous ending. Does Antinous live “happily ever after” with Hadrian in the afterlife, welcoming his one true soulmate in the bliss of eternity? Does Antinous’ embrace of Hadrian merely a symbolic gesture that represents his acceptance of his own fate? Or does Antinous use himself as a lure to drown the emperor and avenge his own demise? I purposefully made Antinous’ motives human and murky.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When did you write your first story, how old were you, and what was it about?
I wrote my first short story during my Sophomore year of high school. Inspired by my summer reading assignment on Thoreau’s Walden, I wrote “Callista, Loon of the North Woods,” an animal fable about love, loss, and acceptance.
What is your writing survival checklist? (Aka, what helps your write the best: music, snacks, coffee, complete silence, a stress ball, a cat, or an outline, etc.)
Most of my writing occurs inside of my head during my commute to work, office hours, grocery shopping, and showers. Once I have a scene fleshed out in my mind, I will find an hour to type it. After a week has passed, I will look at the story with new eyes and tweak edits, formats, and the rest.
What has influenced you most as a writer?
Reading! I grew up with a chronic illness, so I needed fantasy in my life to give me hope. I loved visiting new worlds far away from the body I was stuck in.
What font do you prefer to write in?
I hate that Times New Roman size 12 is the acceptable font size for most industries, but that Microsoft Word sets its default font to Calibri 11. I always type in the default Calibri, then switch it over to the proper font when I’m finished writing.
Do you have any writing blogs/vlogs/podcasts, etc. that you would recommend?
I love the Calls for Submissions (Poetry, Fiction, Art) Group on Facebook; it’s where I get hints for where to send my works!
What is your favorite and least favorite word, and why?
My favorite word is “Camelopardalis” [camel + leopard], the Latin word for “giraffe.” This word will never not be funny.
My least favorite word is “receive,” since I can never remember how to spell it without Auto-correct!
KA Masters is a fantasy writer who specializes in twisted fairy tales and zombie-infested historic fiction. She attributes her passion for Greco-Roman mythology and Germanic folklore to her alma mater, Dickinson College. Her debut novel, The Morning Tree, was recently published by Indie Gypsy.
ON TIME is coming in Summer 2020. Be sure to follow us on Amazon.