Today I’m excited to have Saga Hillbom on the blog, discussing the inspiration behind her new novel City of Bronze, City of Silver.
[The Inspiration for City of Bronze, City of Silver]
As with all my books, the most fundamental inspiration to write City of Bronze, City of Silver
sprung from my passion for history. I am a firm believer that history is one of the most rich
and thrilling of subjects, encompassing everything from blood-soaked battles to heart-
wrenching love stories and incredulous conspiracies. Moreover, it fascinates me to research
events and eras that have shaped our present day society, hence I am always on the quest to
learn something new. Quite frequently, I find myself immersed in the past without a proper
outlet for my thoughts on it—this is when I sit down to work on a novel.
City of Bronze, City of Silver is mainly set during the beginning of the Peloponnesian War
fought between Athens and Sparta 431–404 BC. The choice of writing a story that takes place
in Ancient Greece had long been simmering in my mind; I grew up surrounded by Greek
mythology since my father is a classical archeologist and we travelled to Greece often during
my childhood. Anyone who has seen the crystalline turquoise water and picturesque white-
chalked houses on a Greek island knows the delights of such a vacation.
Reading The Iliad and The Odyssey led me on to two more recent discoveries: The Song of
Achilles by Madeline Miller and The Silence of the Girls by Pat Parker. Both these works are
absolutely amazing and I recommend them to everyone, not just those already familiar with
the story of the Trojan War. While I wanted to write a novel in which the characters could
refer frequently to mythological figures, I also prefer as realistic a setting as possible. This is
why I ended up basing my book on real historical events and including real personages, just
as I have done in my previous writing. I believe research is pivotal in almost every genre, but
even more so in historical fiction, because if the reader is to believe the imagined parts of the
story, the factual part must be authentic. One slight issue I did have with this principle of
mine was time measuring: the ancient Greeks did not measure minutes, not to mention
seconds, nor did they count days in the shape of weeks or even use a single monthly calendar.
Themes in City of Bronze, City of Silver include a fair chunk of adventure and intrigue, with a
focus on vengeance. Without revealing too much, I can say that, when possible, I strive to
give my characters the satisfaction of revenge on their oppressors. Oppression versus liberty
and equality is in itself another theme I aspired to portray. I seek to include feminism as well
as LGBTQ+ characters in my work, and with the radical exception of Sparta, Ancient Greek
society was patriarchal in the extreme.
As for my main characters, Alethea and Eucleides each originate from the typical image of
Sparta and Athens respectively, their traits largely mirroring their place of birth and thereby
contrasting one another. The third main character, Efigenia, represents the suppressed girl
who eventually breaks loose from her chains, while her husband Cosimo embodies said
Lastly, I want to make a brief mention of my favourite writing tip: you can edit garbage, but
not an empty page. You might have heard this before, but it is a wonderful truth, and one that
I live by when I write. I have plenty of days when I am writing my first or second draft and
feel like I would rather burn the manuscript than show it to anyone, but then I remember that
I can polish the text as many times as I like.
A massive thank you to Laura for letting me share my thoughts and inspiration with you!
[About the author: Saga Hillbom]
Saga Hillbom is the self-published author of three historical novels, including A Generation of Poppies, Today Dauphine Tomorrow Nothing, and City of Bronze, City of Silver. She is currently studying history in Lund, Sweden, where she lives with her family. When not writing or reading, Saga enjoys painting, cooking, spending time outside, and watching old movies.