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The Barbary Pirates Q&A

William Dietrich authorQ: Is Ethan Gage ever going to get back together with Astiza?

A: Not only does The Barbary Pirates bring the two lovers back together, but Ethan also once more finds himself entangled with Napoleon and Aurora Somerset, the temptress from The Dakota Cipher. Throw in three real-life savants – zoologist Georges Cuvier, geologist William Smith, and inventor Robert Fulton – and the surprise of a young son, and there’s tumult aplenty. Even French voyageur Pierre Radisson will once more play a role.

Q: What is Ethan doing back in Paris after his adventure in America?

A: Ethan persuades Thomas Jefferson to let him try to get Napoleon to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States. But before you can say “purchase” he embroils himself in misadventure in a Palais Royal brothel, finds himself under arrest by the French secret police, and is soon on the way with his new scientist friends to the Mediterranean on a mystic mission for Bonaparte.

Q: Does electricity play a role again?

A: This time the quest involves two inventions, one ancient and one new. Legend has it that in 212 B.C., the Greek mathematician Archimedes used a gigantic mirror as a death ray to set Roman ships on fire during the siege of Syracuse. The Barbary pirates think the mirror still exists, and want to force Ethan to help them find it. The novel also employs Robert Fulton’s real-life submarine, the Nautilus, in the rousing climax of the book.

Q: Did you visit the locales of the book?

A: A trip to Greece to teach writing on the isle of Ithaca gave me the opportunity to visit Santorini, or Thira, and get an idea of using the shattered volcano in a novel. Geologists believe the eruption of this island may have destroyed Minoan civilization and led to the legend of Atlantis. I also visited Syracuse, on the island of Sicily, and used real-life locations, including a fort that dates from the 212 B.C. siege, in the action of the novel. And it’s always necessary to do research in Paris, of course…

Q: What daunts Ethan the most?

A: Responsibility for a son and family. He has to find a different kind of courage in this book.

Q: This is the fourth book in a series. Will there be more?

A: I hope so, but my next book is very different, a thriller set in the 1930s and the present-day. Writing that one is keeping me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see how it all comes out!

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