Friday, December 7, 2018

Time-Tripping with YA Author, Tammy Lowe

This week, I'm turning my blog over to long-time friend and terrific YA writer, Tamara Lowe. She'll take you through time based on her travels through Rome which informs her fascinating new book, The Sleeping Giant
So instead of stinking up the joint (as I usually do) with tales of woe about my posterior, I now hand you over to a class act, Tammy...

As a young girl, I dreamed of being a time-traveller. I wanted to wear long dresses and bonnets and have daring adventures like the heroines in my favorite books. 

When I grew up, it became clear that my passport is the closest thing to a time-machine I’ll probably ever own. The historians and Egyptologists I meet are the far-way friends in distant lands, leading me through their ancient worlds.

Marissa was a gorgeous Roman archeologist, with long brown hair and a thick Italian accent. She looked like the real-life female lead in any Dan Brown novel. You know…the incredibly intelligent woman who ends up tangled in Robert Langdon’s latest feat. We’d just left the Coliseum’s “backstage” area beneath the floor of the arena—where gladiators awaited battles, often to the death. 
After a short walk along the cobblestone streets, Marissa stopped outside of a rather boring-looking building. I had no idea its faded yellow walls hid what could almost be considered a time machine.

What’s the rush? I wondered as she raced through a 12th century basilica and down a flight of stairs.

It was then I realized we were traveling back in time. 

Hidden beneath the medieval basilica was another church—this one built in the 4th century. Painted frescoes decorated the dark, underground space. I noticed the craftsmanship of the brick walls were more primitive, even to my untrained eye, than those of the church built above it.

“Follow me,” Marissa insisted, leading the way even further back in time.

After descending another flight of stairs, we stopped in the 2nd century AD.  Here, we stumbled upon a pagan temple dedicated to the god Mithra— its stone altar positioned in the middle of the room. My eyes widened, noticing that instead of being even more primitive, the ancient brick walls were skillfully built. I couldn’t help but wonder how much knowledge was truly lost during the Dark Ages.

In the distance, I heard water flowing. Curious, I asked where it was coming from.
With a grin, Marissa led me still further back in to the 1st century, where the main sewer of Ancient Rome still flows. 

In 64 AD, legend says that Emperor Nero played a fiddle while Rome burnt to the ground. Many of the destroyed buildings were filled in and used as foundations for the new construction. The one Marissa and I stood in is believed to have once been the Imperial Mint before it was destroyed by the Great Fire. A mansion and apartments were then built in that spot and later several churches, each one layered atop the last— like lasagna.

As I stared down at the dirt floor, I couldn’t help but imagine the sort of people who’d walked that very spot two thousand years ago; perhaps a young runaway slave being pursued by a ruthless slave trader or a wise old philosopher on his way to advise some long-forgotten senator.
Figure 1: Ancient Roman sewer grate at city sidewalk. 1st century AD.

If you travel south of Rome, toward the Bay of Naples, you’ll find an infamous town frozen in time: Pompeii.

In 79 AD, Mt. Vesuvius erupted with the force of over a thousand nuclear bombs. However, many people didn’t even try to flee the volcanic eruption because they didn’t understand what was happening. They thought the gods were angry. Within twenty-four hours, not a trace of Pompeii remained. The city—and its inhabitants—were buried beneath layers of volcanic ash and pumice.

Over the centuries it simply became a forgotten legend. 

But…in the 1700’s, men working on a new palace for the King of Naples rediscovered Pompeii hidden twenty feet below them.

The amazing part is that as the volcanic ash hardened over time, the bodies trapped within decomposed, leaving behind what was basically…a mold. When these molds were filled with plaster, the results were life-like statues of the people who died that day; their agonizing final moments preserved forever.
 Figure 2: Plaster casts of victims killed in Pompeii. 79 AD.

Despite being a Victorian and Regency loving-little-soul, it was intimidating Ancient Rome that somehow stole my heart. I knew I had to set my latest novel in this time period. I longed to play off the terrifying volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in the final scenes.

But…was I crazy enough to attempt to write a book set in Ancient Rome? The research alone would take forever.

Apparently, yes.

I am crazy enough.

After three more years of research, a second trip to both Rome and Pompeii, I’d completely fallen head-over-heels in love with that ancient world.

I hope you will too.

YA Historical Time Travel Adventure

Lured into time-traveling to Ancient Rome, weeks before a volcanic eruption will bury the city of Pompeii, a shy teenager finds herself falling for the adventurous runaway slave she is supposed to rescue.

*Print Copy Coming Soon*

About the Author:
An adventurer at heart, Tammy Lowe has explored ruins in Rome, Pompeii, and Istanbul (Constantinople) with historians and archaeologists.

She’s slept in the tower of a 15th century castle in Scotland, climbed down the cramped tunnels of Egyptian pyramids, scaled the Sydney Harbour Bridge, sailed on a tiny raft down the Yulong River in rural China, dined at a Bedouin camp in the Arabian Desert, and escaped from head-hunters in the South Pacific.

I suppose one could say her own childhood wish of time traveling adventures came true…in a roundabout way.


  1. Thanks so much for letting me host your blog today, Stuart!

    1. You're more than welcome, Tammy. Now, everyone, get out there and read Tammy's terrific work!