In editorial development
Publication date: TBC
100% funded
149 backers

A melancholy Dionysus is re-born in 20th century Rome and creates a new cult – three teenage girls who will do anything to prove their devotion.

“No one in this city has believed in me for two thousand years. I’m unknown and unloved. And I’m very, very ill.” He sighed, and the sound chilled her blood. “Give me your hand.”

Dionysus is re-born in a city which is never named, but which can only be Rome. He doesn’t understand how or why he’s there again – a pagan god in a city where he has no believers.

Weak and disorientated, he’s sleeping rough when he meets fifteen year old Grace; a chance encounter in the streets of the Jewish Ghetto leads to the beginnings of an unconventional relationship. It seems that the god needs Grace more than she needs him, but along with her best friends, Caroline and Sara, she overcomes scepticism and fear to become his worshipper.

This is the beginning of their secret lives – prayers, shrines and “sleepovers” that are actually bacchanals. Their families are suspicious and their schoolwork begins to suffer, but after the first bloodshed, they know that there’s no turning back.

As Dionysus feeds off the energy of his vulnerable new followers, revelling in the chaos and violence of the bacchanals, it becomes clear that he is using the girls as a means to an end. His memories of past incarnations inspire the eventual climax on the Aventine Hill – the night to end his exile.

A cross between The Bacchae and The Secret History, In Exile is a teenage Greek tragedy set in 20th century Rome. The novel explores the themes of identity, sexuality, friendship and belief, and is an original study of a powerless, melancholy god living in exile in the Eternal City. It’s also a book for anyone who has ever been enchanted by Rome, a city which, like Dionysus, belongs to the past, waiting uneasily on the threshold of the modern era.

Alexandra Turney grew up in London and studied English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford. She lives in Rome, where she works as an English teacher and freelance writer. Her specialities include helping Italians to understand the present perfect and writing about alternative tourist attractions in Rome. Almost all of her writing, both fictional and non-fictional, is related to Italy in some way, and has appeared in the Huffington Post, Go Nomad, L’Italo-Americano, Panoram Italia and Urban Travel Blog.

In Exile is her second novel, dreamt up on the metro – “What would happen if Dionysus were re-born in a 20th century Rome where no one believed in him?” Inspired by Euripides’ The Bacchae, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, and an obscure 19th century sub-genre of “Greek gods in exile” stories, In Exile tells the story of a melancholy Dionysus and his three teenage followers in Rome.

Alexandra has always been interested in the theme of exile, and the feeling of living in the wrong place or time. Passions for 19th century literature and post-punk/new wave music of the 1980s mean that she was born at least a couple of decades (if not centuries) too late.

She is currently halfway through writing her third novel, The Living Cult, set in a Purgatory based on Naples.

Alexandra writes about life in Rome and Italian culture on her blog, Go Thou to Rome. You can also follow her on Instagram.

The latter by no means declared the ancient gods to be myths, inventions of falsehood and error, as did the philosophers, but held them to be evil spirits, who, through the victory of Christ, had been hurled from the summit of their power, and now dragged along their miserable existences in the obscurity of dismantled temples or in enchanted groves, and by their diabolic arts, through lust and beauty, particularly through dancing and singing, lured to apostasy unsteadfast Christians who had lost their way in the forest.... – Heinrich Heine

 

I

A white pyramid. When he opened his eyes he could see nothing but bright stone, splitting the sky in two. For a while he lay in the grass, watching it through half-closed lids. The world was too bright, too real.

If he closed his eyes, he could almost pretend that he wasn’t there, but his breaths betrayed him. He was alive. There was no smoke this time, no hand coming to grab him from the flames, but he was alive.

When the pain of his headache had softened a little, he tried to sit up so he could look around. Behind him, the grass was scattered with white tombstones. If he crawled towards them, he could reach the shade of the umbrella pines. Despite the early hour it was already hot. His naked skin was a deep gold, and he was in no danger of burning, yet the intensity of the sunlight was too much for him. He dragged himself into the shade, flinching at the sensation of the rough grass on his skin. He couldn’t bear to touch anything. He had been away too long.

Later it would dawn on him how unfair it was, how desperately unfair that he should be awake again for no reason. The others were long dead, yet here he was again. Why him? Why now? Why here? Wherever here was…

As his eyes adjusted to the light, he was still too dazed to think clearly. He drew his knees up to his chest and tried to remember, but everything was blank. No, not blank – just dim and distant, as if glimpsed through a dark cloud. The past could not help or release him, so it was better not to dwell on it. The first thing was to find out where he was. In a sense it didn’t really matter, but it would help him decide what to do next.

On his hands and knees among the tombstones – the columns, angels and mysterious doorways – he searched until he found a clue. At last, here were words he could read. Above the wildflowers, between the death and the date, there was the name of a city.

He remained crouched in front of the tombstone, whispering the name to himself. So he was here again. It had been a long time – four or five hundred years – but a century and a second were more or less the same to him.

The birdsong was joined by another sound, a distant roar that gradually grew louder. He saw the motorbike emerge from behind the pyramid, and then disappear when it reached the cemetery wall. The world was so old, he thought, and yet so new. As am I.

He stood up, using one of the columns for support. He didn’t know where to go, but he couldn’t stay here, naked among the dead. Wherever he went, there was always someone who would try to lock him up, often for the most irrational reasons. If he got caught this time, he wasn’t sure he had the energy to escape.

With the sun in his eyes, he took his first steps in the city that had once loved him.

Read more...

100% funded!

Friday, 1 June 2018

Bacchanal

(A Bacchanal by Jan Brueghel the Elder)

In Exile is 100% funded! You made this happen!

I reached 100% last night. Then I dreamt that someone was telling me that I actually had to reach 200%, and I woke up in a panic. But it's okay, 100% is enough, thank god...

Thank you all so much for your support, whether it was financial or emotional or both. When I started the process six months…

Gods in Exile - a collection of very short stories

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Gods aphrodite

(Bacchus by Simeon Solomon)

"The latter by no means declared the ancient gods to be myths, inventions of falsehood and error, as did the philosophers, but held them to be evil spirits, who, through the victory of Christ, had been hurled from the summit of their power, and now dragged along their miserable existences in the obscurity of dismantled temples or in enchanted groves, and by their…

Dionysus: an introduction

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Dionysus 2

(Dionysus in a Neo-Attic relief, Museum of Naples)

Dionysus - the Greek god of wine, fertility, theatre, religious ecstasy and ritual madness - is one of the protagonists of In Exile.

I discovered Dionysus when I was a teenager, doing an A-Level in Classical Civilisation. One of the set texts was Euripides' The Bacchae, a Greek tragedy about Dionysus taking revenge in spectacularly bloody…

60% funded!

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Bacchus

(from Titian's Bacchus and Ariadne)

Bacchus isn't quite back yet, but we're getting there..

There's something very satisfying about reaching 60%. 50% was nice - halfway. But 60% is the standard exam pass mark (at least for the English language tests I mark on a daily basis), so 60% feels real, substantial. It's a pass!

111 people have pledged to buy In Exile so far. When I try to…

These people are helping to fund In Exile.

Avatar
Carlo Navato
Avatar
Fiona Finch
Avatar
Robert Powell
Avatar
Alys Earl
Avatar
Steve Fenton
Avatar
Sue Clark
Avatar
Nataliya Kazantseva
Avatar
Evander von Weygand
Avatar
Alice Driver
Avatar
Donna Oudanonh
Avatar
Steph McPaul
Avatar
Rebecca Hindle
Avatar
Angela Rayson
Avatar
Khalid Kurji
Avatar
Jack Peters
Avatar
Alaric Stephen
Avatar
Ilaria Nardi
Avatar
Vanessa Ianni
Avatar
Viona Deconinck
Avatar
Eleonora Capretti
Avatar
Cat Flynn
Avatar
Lindsay Gillies
Avatar
Gregory Mahdesian
Avatar
Terri Murdick
Avatar
Grace Gillies
Avatar
Yenni Fabres
Avatar
Jayne Richmond
Avatar
Beatrice Blythe
Avatar
Michael Switzer
Avatar
Kate Newton
Avatar
Emma Kendall
Avatar
Jennifer Walker
Avatar
Emily Corbett
Avatar
Eli Allison
Avatar
Ian Turney
Avatar
Simon Lewis
Avatar
Ruhee Padhiar
Avatar
Belinda Stephenson
Avatar
Will Burgess
Avatar
Patrick Kincaid
Avatar
Alberto BG
Avatar
Gail Thibert
Avatar
Clare Peters
Avatar
Robert Ferri
Avatar
Julia Peters
Avatar
Heeyeon Park
Avatar
Catie Costa
Avatar
Tash Payne
Avatar
Rosie Hans
Avatar
Adam Tinworth
Avatar
Simone Taghavi
Avatar
Charlotte Goff
Avatar
Tara Burton
Avatar
Jill Smith
Avatar
Roland Lasius
Avatar
Nathalie Boisard-Beudin
Avatar
Alessandra Mattei
Avatar
Rachael Tannisse Sell
Avatar
sophia cauteruccio
Avatar
PAMELA PAMELA CRESCI
View all supporters

Join in the conversation

Sign in to ask a question