Through human existence, there have been stories passed on showing perseverance, dedication, kindness, cunning, and every other trait that we come across in our daily lives. Many of these are found within the stories of the Ancient Greek storyteller, Æsop. Famous for his fables where virtues are taught through woven tales of personified animals and their noble, and not so noble actions, Æsop’s life is a true mystery.
The story is a journey of the life of Æsop, born into slavery and his quest to one day be a free man. His mantra, anything is possible, introduced by his mother, is the premise of his entire life, and his memories of her encourage Æsop to strive to reach his goal. Like the fables he is so well known for, Æsop’s life is filled with unexpected twists and turns, that ultimately prove that anything is possible.
Anything is Possible, the debut novel by Thomas Bähler, was thirty years in the making. Literary and poetic license allowed Mr. Bähler the opportunity to share his version of Æsop’s life, combining the few and far between facts with historically accurate people, places and events in Ancient Greece during the time that Æsop was thought to live.
Having spent the past fourteen years teaching history, as well as personally having a strong Greek heritage, I was intrigued as to how Æsop’s life would be portrayed. With so little factual evidence, Mr. Bähler has created an entertaining, as well as historically fascinating tale that makes me wonder what Æsop’s life could truly have been like. The tragedies and triumphs he faces in the pages of Anything is Possible are most definitely romanticized, based on what’s known of the lives of slaves, but it’s Æsop, one of the greatest storytellers the world has ever known, and I will admit that I enjoyed the way his fables were woven into this novel. So, well done, Mr. Bähler, you captivated, and I’m not an easy sell!
Thomas Bähler an American singer, composer, songwriter, arranger, producer, and author. He was one of the background voices on The Partidge Family, and has worked with many incredible musicians including Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Barbra Streisand, and Quincy Jones, was an associate producer and arranger for We Are The World and has. His interest with the life of Æsop has spanned many decades and with the encouragement of family and friends, was finally put into print, proving that Anything is Possible!
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to ask Mr. Bähler a few questions based on his experiences, and how his ideas about Æsop began as a musical, and shifted into the novel Anything is Possible.
How has the title, Anything is Possible helped your journey in life lead you down the path to writing the novel?
Good question, Erin – the evolution of my journey with Æsop goes back quite a few years and it began as a musical…during which a song came to me one morning – lyrics and all (which happens with me most of the time:) and it was virtually singing in my ears: “Anything Is Possible – Possible” – this is a philosophy that I picked up from my father that he learned from his mother who was both brilliant and a Pollyanna.
When I first wrote the novel, I called it ÆSOP – and now the philosophy of “Anything Is Possible” had become the underlying theme. It was my editor, Sally Arteseros who suggested that we use AIP for the title of the book.
Do you think that someday you’ll return to the idea of a musical based on the life of Aesop?
Yes! Just as the novel presented the opportunity to get my story out in its entirety, at some point, I will move, once again, in the direction of a musical, that is my endgame.
Historically, Aesop is someone who you can find very little factual information on. Do you think historic fiction allows for poetic license, or that accuracies should remain within stories?
You are right about there being scant information about the life of ÆSOP. I have read virtually every written piece about Æsop since I began this quest in 1980. The only surviving writing about Æsop is by Herodotus and I placed that in the front of the book. There is a tome entitled, “The Life Of Æsop that was written approx 400BC and is regarded as the first novel by many scholars. I used some of the information in the book that resonated with the Æsop that ‘moved in with me’ so long ago.
There was great leeway for poetic license with this, because of the scant information available. Most of the writings about Æsop seem to contain a great deal of dogma based upon the writers’ religious and political views.
I wrote what came to me while I was doing research for six hours a day for six months…I write my music the same way…my father taught me at an early age that “Creativity is not doing. It is listening.”
That said, I was diligent in making certain that the information about the historical figures and places in which our story is set was accurate and had three separate Ancient Greek History scholars (who are Greeks themselves) go over the book and I made certain adjustments based upon their input.
I do believe that historic fiction should contain factual elements wherever possible. One of my favorites in this genre is “Pompeii” by Robert Harris. His book had a great influence on me. The difference was that my book is story driven and the surrounding events are not necessarily part of the knowledge base or memory of my reader where in Pompeii, it is the weaving in of a human story that makes the events, which are well researched, come to life for me.
I feel that this quote has a bearing here: “Myth is much more important and true than history. History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is.”
Do you have a particular fable that you feel speaks to you, and to your journey as an artist?
I would have to say “The Tortoise and The Hare” – for it is a story of persistence and enduring focus.
Æsop became a very important part of my life and has remained with me since 1979. I did not ask for this to happen, it just did and I am grateful for the experience of re-introducing Æsop to the modern world. Sometimes I feel as though this is my reason for being here.
Anything is Possible is available at http://www.amazon.com in paperback for $9.52 and can be downloaded to your Kindle for $0.99.
For more information on Thomas , you can visit his website: http://www.thomasbahler.com/.
– That’s IT So. Florida Mom, Erin
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