Skip to content

Ancient Wonders: An Interview with Karin Ciholas, author of The Lighthouse

Ciholas 1

I was born in Virginia and grew up in Switzerland. I started Latin at the age of twelve. That is when I fell in love with history more than Latin. I was intrigued by the organization of the Roman Empire and horrified by the absolute power of their emperors. Growing up in a family of theologians I have always been fascinated by the first century where Judaism and Christianity collide with each other and with the Empire.

You can buy The Lighthouse here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The Lighthouse was the title of the first book in the trilogy from the very beginning because the lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt, is arguably the most famous. It is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It stood as a masterpiece of engineering at the entrance to Alexandria, Egypt, to guide ships safely to harbor for almost two thousand years before an earthquake toppled it in the 14th century. It can symbolize many things. Every reader can find their own interpretations of its meaning and symbolic connections.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

Excited. At the moment of birth, you feel awe and accomplishment. You also feel some anxiety as you launch your baby into the world and hope it will have a successful journey.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I wrote short stories when I was nine years old. Fortunately, none of them still exist. I read children’s books and sometimes rewrote the endings when I didn’t like them. I was a voracious reader and wanted to read grown-up books early on. My mother had grand collections—Sir Walter Scott, The Harvard Classics, Shakespeare, Shaw, and Sir Conan Doyle. It was a moveable feast. I started writing short stories for publishing in literary journals later and discovered that I love to write. My mother always encouraged my writing and is probably the only person I know who has read all of Proust (albeit in English).

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I taught college courses in languages and humanities at Campbell University, UNC Chapel Hill, and Centre College. My favorite course to teach: an interdisciplinary course on the ancient world. I have a Ph.D. in comparative literature.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

First, the amazing design of the artists who designed the cover. Second, the editing process itself. It was an interesting and meaningful dialogue about the use of Roman and Jewish terms that needed to be explained clearly without breaking the flow of the sentences.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

The call of the shofar to introduce the Sabbath. Trumpets calling Roman legions to battle. The songs from the Psalms. The Shema.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I want to encourage my readers to experience Rome and Egypt and Jerusalem in the first century; to learn more about the amazing history and the evolution of medicine in Alexandria, the most enlightened city of the Empire. I want to inspire others to cherish the heritage and legacy of Judaism and the struggle and valor of Jews like my hero, Simon, whose passion for healing and justice is motivating and uplifting and often puts him in danger.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I am working on the next two books in the Cyrenian Trilogy. See

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

I learned a lot from the team at Atmosphere Press. The publishing business is changing every day, and they are on top of those changes. They are also very responsive, helpful, kind, and professional.

You can buy The Lighthouse here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

atmosphere press

Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below.