Elizabeth Sammons at the Lion and Pirate

Elizabeth Sammons at the Lion and Pirate

(Photos courtesy of Malvern Books)

Earlier this month we were happy to feature author Elizabeth Sammons at our Lion and Pirate Open Mic at Malvern Books. It was an afternoon of many firsts including the first historical novel reading we have featured at the open mic as well as the first live playing of a lyra, a stringed instrument like a small harp that was popular in Ancient Greece. She also brought relics culled from her travels to Greece that helped us imagine the world of her novel. Elizabeth was kind enough to tell us a little more about her book and her experience at the open mic in her own words (be sure to check out the full version of her reading in the video at the end of this post!):

As an Ohioan far from home, I sure enjoyed a Texas welcome Sunday, March 3rd when I had the privilege of speaking at Art Spark Texas’ monthly Open Mic held at Malvern Books in Austin. This event was long in the planning. As I retired from both my job, and also many years as a VSA Ohio board member last year, I planned a trip with my husband in our new RV. Along the way, I hoped to share the joy of being a writing artist by giving a few book talks. Eric from Art Spark Texas was quick to pick up my offer, posted by our VSA Ohio director, and our dialogue went from there.

Elizabeth Sammons reads an excerpt from her novel in Braille

I enjoyed listening to poets, musicians and other thinkers who shared their works before I spoke; one even gave me a line I’ll use in future talks. This was my first time talking with fellow artists from a disability perspective about my book, which is set in the early Roman Empire and involves, among other issues, portrayal of a young man struggling for social acceptance among peers who usually heard his heavy tongue and laughed at his way of walking. For those interested, I based some of the historical comments touching his development on the masterpiece by Robert Graves “I, Claudius,” available as a novel and also as a 1976 Masterpiece Theatre series.

Here’s a little about my own book, “The Lyra and the Cross,” available in hard copy and as an E-book, and soon to come out in audio:

copies of The Lyra and the Cross novel among Greek relics

Three friends, two cultures and one faith. Thus begins the life-changing journey to Jerusalem for Saul of Tarsus, his best friend Stephanos and Stephanos’ little sister, Irini. Young Saul finds the meaning of his life when he meets a great teacher in the temple. But that same day shatters the world of Stephanos and Irini with the sudden death of their father.

After years when Saul studies scripture at Jerusalem’s great Temple while Stephanos and Irini struggle to survive in Tarsus, the three friends reunite but under far different circumstances. The rule of Rome and the rise of rabbis like John the Baptist have transformed Palestine into a cauldron boiling over with political and religious anger. The death of Jesus a few years later throws the Jewish world into discord. This novel looks deeply into two distinct world views, the Hellenic and the Jewish. Along the way, stories of slaves becoming freedmen, people seeking their roots and souls questioning their beliefs intersect with the start of a new faith later called Christianity.

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