Limerick editions of Pericles Commission & Ionia Sanction

A very clever reader named Rebecca Gebhardt Brizi has written limerick editions of both The Pericles Commission and The Ionia Sanction. I discovered these by accident and wanted to share them. 

So here they are, on Rebecca's blog:

The Pericles Commission: a synopsis in limerick!

The Ionia Sanction: a synopsis in limerick!

I'm supposed to write a synopsis for each of my books, when I submit them to the publisher.  I might hire Rebecca to do my next one.


Giveaways of The Ionia Sanction and Sacred Games

So here's the other reason I mentioned BookLikes the other day.

If you wander over to their Giveaway Page, you will find 10 hardback copies of Ionia Sanction and 10 hardback copies of Sacred Games to be given away to the US and Canada, and 20 ebooks of Sacred Games for the entire world.

If anyone would care for a copy, this is your chance!  (You need to be a BookLikes member, needless to say.)

Proxenos: a job both ancient and modern

It's not every day you get email from a US Consul.  But such was the case a week ago when I received a lovely email from Mr Mark Mohr.  Mr Mohr's a retired US diplomat and a mystery reader.  And very glad I am that he emailed, because he mentioned something interesting to do with The Ionia Sanction.

In The Ionia Sanction there's a character named Thorion.  Thorion has a special job: he's a proxenos.

Proxenos was one of the most interesting official jobs a man could have in Classical Greece.  The pro means for, the xenos means foreigner.  Hence proxenos means someone who acted on behalf of foreigners.

The system worked like this:  cities didn't have a diplomatic service back then, so what they did was find men among the other cities who were well-disposed toward them, and then ask those foreign men to act on their behalf.

Thorion is a citizen of Athens, and always has been.  But he married a woman from Ephesus and he has intricate trade connections to Ephesus.  Thorion therefore acts as the proxenos for Ephesus in Athens.  He officially represents them.

If someone from Ephesus is in Athens and in trouble, he can go to Thorion for help.  If a merchant in Ephesus wants to trade in Athens, he could ask Thorion for advice and introductions to Athenian traders.  If Athens was considering passing some trade law that would disadvantage Ephesus, then Thorion -- even though he was a citizen of Athens -- might reasonably stand up to argue against it, and his fellow citizens would expect him to do just that.

The proxenoi appear to have been at least as effective as the consulates of modern times.  With the hundreds of Greek city-states, and their intricate political and trade alliances, the proxenoi must have formed a complex and fascinating network of men.

I thought the proxenoi were no more, replaced by modern consuls.  But to my delight, I was wrong.  Mark mentioned:
"Actually, there is such a system in modern diplomacy; they are known as honorary consuls. For example, when I was [US Consul] in Brisbane, a prominent Greek-Australian attorney was the honorary consul for Greece. At the time I was in Brisbane, only eight consuls were citizens of the sending country, whereas more than twenty honorary consuls, all Australian citizens, represented foreign interests. So apparently the Greek gift of the proxenoi system continues into present times."
Not only do the proxenoi still exist, but they're in my own country.  And one of them is proxenos for Greece!

Working titles

I guess this might interest a few of the writer-types among us.  When you sell a book, the title on the front of your ms isn't necessarily the title that will appear when it pops out as a real printed book.  That's why they call them working titles.

The original working title for The Pericles Commission was The Ephialtes Affair.  At the time, you see, I was thinking in terms of an Agatha Christie title scheme.  The Mysterious Affair At Styles... The Ephialtes Affair.

Then I sold the book.  Or rather, my brilliant agent sold the book.

After the editors had finished recoiling in horror, it was clear the title would have to change.  To start with, Ephialtes is an incredibly awkward name for a title.  Secondly, affair has another meaning.  Was this book about a love affair with a Greek shipping magnate?

This is the point where an author needs to be more in love with the idea of a successful book, than in love with his own words.  Luckily for me, I'm entirely devoid of sentimentality.  The only problem was to come up with a new naming scheme.

It was me who came up with The Pericles Commission, but it could have been any one of the five of us who were thinking about a new title.  Consensus came when we realized this wasn't a Christie-like series; it was more like Robert Ludlum.   So I moved from an Agatha Christie naming scheme to a Robert Ludlum naming scheme.

Having learned the lesson with book 1, you'd think I'd get the title for book 2 right, wouldn't you?  I did, sort of.  The working title was The Magnesia Sanction.

All was well until the editor pointed out that in America, the only use of the word magnesia was in milk of magnesia, which is used to treat bowel complaints.  Perhaps that was an association we would wish to avoid.  

The Magnesia Sanction became The Ionia Sanction.   The city of Magnesia was in the province of Ionia, so it was an easy fix.  If anything it sounds better.

Which brings us to Sacred Games.  It's the first time my working title has survived!