Tag Archive: Pompeii


Today is the anniversary of the eruption of Vesuvius that buried Pompeii in 79 CE. It’s also my eldest nephew’s birthday, so doubly an important date for me. On this day, one of the most evocative places on earth was frozen in time for us to explore two millennia later — plus I first got to stick out my tongue at a newborn and see him mimic me (as I’d hoped). He has been a quick study ab ovo. 🙂

Vesuvius, from House of the Centenary, PompeiiVesuvius’s most famous eruption was a horrendous tragedy when it happened, but the trove of information it left us about daily life in a Roman town is invaluable — so much more fascinating than written history, which is mostly just about war. For example, the fresco here from a household shrine in ancient Pompeii apparently shows the volcano as it looked before the top blew. This is the only known depiction during the 500 dormant years that lulled the residents of the region into a false sense of safety. Some of those living on the slopes must have seen evidence of charring, steam vents and bubbling mud, but the last eruption had long passed from living memory.

The guy dressed in grapes next to the volcano is Bacchus (aka Dionysus), god of wine, present because the volcanic soil was (and is) excellent for vineyards.

If you’re curious about life in first-century Italy, please check out a fictional exploration in my time-travel romance, Templum. My contemporary mystery/romance The Five-Day-Dig also taps into the unparalleled mystique of this setting.

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Being pretty much obsessed with ancient Rome and especially Pompeii, of course I saw the new movie about the star-crossed city on its opening weekend. The action/adventure film follows Milo (Kit Harington), a gladiator enslaved in Pompeii, as he befriends his fiercest competitor in the arena (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), catches the eye of a rich but sympathetic beauty (Emily Browning), and then finds himself fighting for his life and theirs during the eruption that we all know buried the town in the year 79.

Kit Harington as Milo--the paintings on the arena walls are a nice, historically accurate detail.

Kit Harington as Milo–the paintings on the arena walls are a nice, historically accurate detail.

The director (Paul WS Anderson) is best known for sci-fi horror pics — not usually my thing — so I wasn’t sure the story would appeal to me, but I enjoyed this movie. All three protagonists have integrity and compassion, so you want to see them overcome both the bad guys and the wrath of nature. As a woman and a romance novelist, I would have preferred more emphasis on the realm of Venus than that of Mars, but the romance we get is satisfyingly, if quickly, developed, and so is the “buddy” relationship between the two main male characters.

Having visited the ruins of the real Pompeii, I also loved seeing the amazing town alive again on the big screen. The filmmakers made a good effort to depict the streets, amphitheater and villa interiors in a realistic way. While reading or watching fiction, I’m happy to suspend disbelief over details, but nitpickers will probably find most fault with the way the eruption plays out.

Compared to my new time-travel novel Templum, set in the same time and place, Pompeii has much more violence and much less sex. 🙂 Since Templum is primarily a romance, it follows that the love story in my book is more deeply explored. If you watched the Showtime cable TV series “Spartacus,” well, Pompeii has both less gore and less sex, but more likable characters and more romance. All in all, worth seeing — and best seen in the theater to do justice to the scenery and action sequences.

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Templum, my new time travel, is up on Kindle and Nook! (Print edition coming soon.) Check it out:

Cover for TemplumAfter losing her job, her boyfriend and her best friend, Brit Colladay thinks she’s hit rock bottom. Then while touring Roman ruins, she’s accidentally transported to the first century. Living as a slave near Pompeii, she fakes a gift of prophecy, but when she predicts Vesuvius will erupt, her owner doesn’t believe her.

Nicomachus, a Roman priest renowned for the “miracles” he engineers, knows a fraud when he sees one, but Brit’s brains and beauty intrigue him, and he’d rather join forces than expose her. In exchange for sharing her tricks, she wants help escaping the upcoming eruption, but helping a slave run away could get him executed.

As time runs out, they try to forge a plan. Is the answer fleeing, traveling through time, or even changing history? And can they stay together, or will survival mean living apart?

Links to Amazon and Barnes and Noble below the cover pic on left. (How do you like the cover? 🙂 )

To find on Amazon, go here.
For the Nookbook, click here.
For the UK Amazon page, use this link;
Amazon Australia, click here;
Amazon Canada, here.

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Do You Like Gladiator Movies?

Around the time my archaeology mystery The Five-Day-Dig came out, movies about ancient Rome looked like they were about to trend. I heard there was going to be a British miniseries based on Robert Harris’s bestselling novel Pompeii, that HBO planned to update the 1970s series I, Claudius, and that an Italian filmmaker had a Pompeii thriller in the works.

A year later, I haven’t seen any news on those projects, but this recent casting announcement in Variety mentions another film titled Pompeii, this one directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, the guy behind Resident Evil. The story follows Milo, a Pompeian slave, as he tries to save the woman he loves and his best friend during the fateful eruption of Vesuvius that buries the town. Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow on “Game of Thrones” is in talks to play the lead. According to moviefone.com, Christoph Waltz, Logan Lerman, Ray Stevenson, Milla Jovovich, and Luke Evans are also on tap.

Past Pompeii-centric flicks include at least half-a-dozen versions of the awful The Last Days of Pompeii, based on the novel by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, the same guy who penned the line “It was a dark and stormy night …” Another awful 1960s British series called Up Pompeii centered around a Benny Hill-esque ancient Roman.

To date, the best film ever set in the star-crossed town has to be the trippy, Spinal-Tap-like Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii from 1972. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it.

I’m still hoping that Pompeii movies do take off in the near future, because I wrote the first draft of The Five-Day-Dig as a screenplay — and if the right director comes along, I’d be happy to pull it back out and polish it up. 😉

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There’s a scene in my archaeological mystery/romance The Five-Day-Dig where the excavation team comes across nails, hinges, locks and braces scattered on a floor among the ruins. “That’s what’s left of furniture after the wood decomposes,” one of the characters explains. “These fittings were parts of chests, cabinets or shelves.” In Pompeii, most wooden items decomposed centuries ago, but there are some cases of 2,000-year-old wood surviving in the ancient town and in nearby Herculaneum, which was buried in the same eruption.

The bedside table you see here is not from Ikea (har!) — it’s from Herculaneum. Wandering through the small fraction of the town that has been excavated, you can see plenty of wooden beams, window and door frames, railings, bed frames and the large folding wooden screen that gave the House of the Wooden Partition its name. For more pics of ancient Roman wooden furniture, see this very cool blog post from Bensozia.

Pompeii doesn’t seem to have as much surviving wood as Herculaneum, but archaeologists have made plaster casts (like the plaster body casts you’ve probably seen) of some of the decomposed wooden items. When Hubby and I went, we saw casts of wooden doors and shutters, but we missed the casts of furniture in the House of Julius Polybius. Something to check out next time — because we totally need another trip to Pompeii. 😉

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