Beautiful People - Valerius and Claudia

image via Pinterest
It is hard to believe how time flies by so fast. It felt only like yesterday that it was April, and I was preparing this post... a Beautiful People interview for Valerius and Claudia; one about their relationship (see here), hosted by Sky and Georgie Penn. But this one has taken a lot longer than normal to write and share with you all for two reasons: for one thing, this relationship is quite an important one in The Crown of Life, and I wanted to present it in its rightful manner! Secondly, I've been really taken up with so many other activities and things lately, so that April slipped by before I knew it and with it, Sky and Georgie have already made a new Beautiful People Interview. So I hope they won't mind me skipping THIS month's interview, and backtracking to last month's, simply because the questions just were so right for the two characters that I love most, and are in effect the true heroes of The Crown of Life. So without further ado, I'd like to properly introduce you to 
Tribune Valerius Gallus 
Lady Claudia Albinus
Note: the questions with a *, without a number are questions from previous interviews. I know, I really don't seem to stick to the rules properly with Beautiful People, much as I'd like to!

1. Do they believe in anything that most people think is impossible? 
Throughout the first part of the story, Valerius and Claudia do not tend to believe in things that are thought impossible by their fellow Romans. However, Valerius does have a strong sense of Roman justice and integrity which is considered as quite an absurd and impossible ideal by most of his patrician family and friends. As for Claudia, she doesn't stop believing that she'd be reunited with Valerius, even when everything says that it can't happen. Most of all though Valerius and Claudia in time come to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, in His death and resurrection, in original sin and the depravity of man, in the judgment to come, and salvation through faith in Him, an action directly opposing what most people believe and think to be possible or wise. 

*If your characters could be played by any actor(s), who would they be? This is a very hard question! I've tried and tried to find an actor who would fit the mental picture I have for Valerius but none 'clicked'. The closest one I found was the actor Benjamin Sadler as seen in the picture above left (he looks like him only in SOME movies, not all!)... but still, he isn't really the same. I also think Gregory Peck might have acted him well, though he didn't have the look of a Roman. For Claudia there are a couple of actors that come close, and they would be a mesh of Keira Knightley, Liv Tyler (as seen in Lord of the Rings portraying Arwen), and Jean Simmons (as seen in The Robe portraying Diana). But until an actor actively takes on a specific role, I find it hard to imagine them as the characters themselves, be they my own creation or another's.

2. Are they strong, or the "damsel/knight in distress" sort?
It depends really. Valerius is physically strong, trained to be a highly skilled soldier and capable of enduring extremely harsh conditions. And Claudia is slender and tall resonating womanly strength. 
When it comes to inner strengths though, it really is hard to tell. I guess I'll know as I write more! But they are both determined, steadfast and valiant, even though they have their moments of "distress, weakness". They do definitely rely on each other. But they both realize in time that their strength is not in themselves but in God.

3. Do they have a special place? (e.g. a corner in his/her bedroom, under a tree...) Valerius' favourite place would be his father's library. Overlooking the elegant peristyle that blooms with ivy flowers along the marble fountains and the large pool, the library includes chests and shelves filled with an abundance of ancient and classic scrolls, making it a haven to read and think in alone (which he tends to do often). Another special place that Valerius enjoys is the enclosed garden of the Gallus villa which looks out towards the city of Rome, the Tiber River and the Palatine Hill. Claudia finds solace in the gardens looking out of her bedroom chamber, its ethereal serenity and archaic beauty always refreshing her. Her favourite spot in that garden is a rock outcropping among some trees by the pool. By that rock, she often plays the harp, composes songs, and reads/writes alone. 

*Do they have a specific theme song? The theme song I've chosen for Valerius, that speaks of his own internal journey the best, would probably be "Knowing You" by Graham Kendrick. It is also a personal favourite Christian song of mine:

For Claudia, this song suites her as well, but I think I'd have a song relevant to the last stage of their tale, and that would be "Into the West" by Annie Lennox(even though it is from LOTR, I found it to really suite her, if you change the words "into the west" and "grey ships" to represent Heaven):

4. What occupation do they have, or plan on having? Valerius is one of the top 6 tribunes in Legate Albinus' Legion.  [according to Wikipedia, this is the definition of a tribune: "each year the Tribal Assembly elected 24 young men in their late twenties with senatorial ambitions to serve as Tribune of the Soldiers (tribunes militium). These 24 were distributed six to each of the consuls' four legions as the legions' commanding officers.]  As a tribune, Valerius' role of occupation varies with the circumstances, and with his military commission. His parents and superiors have high hopes in him, one that he feels obliged to fulfill for their sake and for the sake of his late older brother who was killed years before. Besides that, he wishes to prove himself worthy of Claudia's devotion and love and give her honour and happiness in their life together. Claudia is the daughter of Legate Albinus, the General of the Roman Army. In many ways, she is treated like a Roman princess, and her duties are typical of a General's daughter (attending numerous official banquets hosted by her father, appearing at the Palace frequently, and being taught the arts and duties of a aristocratic Roman wife and matron, to name a few). Claudia dreams and hopes on being one day the wife of Valerius and a mother, and is doing everything to prepare for it. 

5. Describe their current place of residence. Well, Valerius right now is living (or I should say "settling"?) in the grim military barracks of a Roman Garrison (fortress) in the region of.... well, you'll know sometime so why should I spoil it for you? *smiles*. It isn't a very cheering residence, with cold grey walls of stone, and tall archways leading to numerous, but sever, looking barracks. And there is the great drilling court with flagstones and tall gates of metal spikes. Valerius' chambers are less austere then the rest of the barracks, being the commander of the fort, but it is still nothing like his father's family villa back in Rome. All the same, Valerius doesn't complain and sees his current residence as yet another chance to act upon the Roman and Stoic ideals of his father which he had formally found hard to accept. Claudia lives on her father's large estate in Rome, in a white-stoned villa of great beauty and luxury. But her heart isn't in it at all.

*What’s their worst childhood memory? Besides the death of his infant sister, Valerius' childhood was without too much incident, and was rather peaceful and happy. However, the worst memory of his past, was when at the age of 14, his brother was killed while serving as Commander of a military detachment in Britannia. This shook Valerius strongly, having been very close to his older brother. 
Claudia's worst childhood memory was when her mother died in childbirth, giving birth to her younger brother, Antony. She was only five, but she still remembers it clearly.

6. Explain their last crisis. How had they changed when they came out of it? To explain would be to give away a vital plot-line, so it will have to suffice to say that it was sad and tragic, one that gravely alerted their lives, and threatened their future together. Though it tore them away from each other, yet it also strengthened their love and faithfulness for each other the more.

7. If they could ride any horse they wanted, what would it be? Valerius would definitely choose to ride his own favourite horse, Gnaea, above any other. She was given to him many years before as a gift by Flavius and he treasures it, not only as a gift, but because it is a prized mare, beautiful, graceful, light-of-foot and sturdy for fighting. Claudia would ride on any one of the horses in her father's stables as they are all very good.

8. How do they deal with change? Change comes hard for both of them, but I am afraid to say it happens so often (perhaps a little too often?) that they gradually grow used to it.  Any change jars  Valerius but he quickly adapts and tries to deal with it as rationally and logically as possible. Emotional and thought change is something he finds a lot harder to deal with. He can outwardly adapt quicker then he would on the inside. Claudia deals with change in a more emotional and sentimental way then does Valerius, but she is quick to adjust as well.

*What is a cause they would die for? At this time, ideally, Valerius would die for Rome and the Empire, and for the honour of his family. But above all that, he would die for his loved ones. Valerius is not yet a Christian, but when he does the greatest cause and reason he'd willingly die for would be for his faith in Christ. It is much the same with Claudia except I don't know if she'd care to die for the sake of Rome or the Empire very much...

*Would they rather die fighting valiantly, or quietly at home? Wouldn't the answer generally be fighting valiantly? It sounds so heroic! Taking it from the perspective that they aren't Christians yet, Valerius, trained as a soldier, would prefer dying fighting valiantly, rather than die as a doddering old man taken to his bed. But he loves life, and in his heart of hearts he does not relish fighting. And yet it is what he knows to be the most honourable and glorious act any Roman can do, and therefore that's what he'd prefer. Claudia would rather die quietly at home, having lived a fruitful life, but she is willing to die fighting valiantly for the ones she loves if she must.

*Are they Christian or will they eventually find Jesus?
No, as of this time, they are not Christians and barely have any knowledge of the Faith. But yes, they will eventually find the Lord Jesus as their Saviour... that's basically what the novel is about, in a broader sense :).

9. How did they meet? It was actually a very traditional "meeting". As history, the Gallus and Albinus families had been household friends since the time when the Senator Gallus and Legate Albinus had been young bachelors starting out their careers. Not long after Claudia was born both Cassia Gallus and Helena Albinus secretly conspired together that when Valerius and Claudia were of age, they should be wed. But no official betrothal or engagement was performed, due to Albinus, who being so proud after the birth of his only daughter, didn't want to even consider the possibility of his daughter being brought into a betrothal in infancy when he had hardly been her father for a few months. Valerius' sister, Anthea, was Claudia's closest friend as they grew up and Valerius often had fleeting glimpses of Claudia playing with his sister when she visited their home, or when Valerius met with the Legate in his villa. Though they rarely ever met personally or talked to each other, they had a mutual liking and respect for one another, unspoken though it wasBut when Claudia turned sixteen, Valerius finally got the courage to approach her father, Legate Albinus, for her hand in marriage. And by then, Albinus had become quite fond of the lad :). So the first time they officially met and really talked with each other was at their betrothal. 

10. How do these two deal with conflict? They deal with conflict with a great deal of dignified pride and obstinacy on both sides. But usually their love and steadfastness for each other quickly overcomes whatever conflicts they might ever have between themselves. As a side note, I've yet to see them argue or have a real conflict, even though I can see it coming... eventually. We'll see!

11. Do they have a special song, phrase, item, or place? I haven't considered much about giving them as a couple a special song, phrase or place. Valerius did gave Claudia a ring on her third finger on their betrothal (as is typical of the times of course). I'll have to think about the other tokens though!

12. What kind of things do they like to do together? Well, I am sure everything.

*Are they married? If not, do they someday wish to be? At this precise moment they are not married. Do they wish to be? Yes, they do. Very much. But some things are just not in their hands, and marriage right now is one of them. 

13. Describe their relationship as a whole in 3 words or less. Faithful. Loving. Enduring. 


  1. This was very interesting, Joy! Thanks for sharing; and by the way, your novel sounds interesting as well(:

  2. Hey Joy!
    You'll be pleased to know that I read this. :) As of what I already know, this did help me with the characters heaps. I found the bits about Valerious' history most interesting, and Claudia doesn't sound at all like the "Damsel in distress" kind.
    That photo of Claudia, is it actually Kira Knightly? It's a very beautiful photo, and helps me to imagine her better.
    Keep up the writing, I also plan to get into some writing one weekend soon. :)

  3. Thanks so much, Emily! I am glad you found it interesting to read. Your novel does too :).


  4. Hey Jess!!!!

    I almost squealed with delight when I saw your comment. Seriously though, I was so glad to know you read and found this post helpful! Because it's just so, so lovely to have my dear friend's thoughts on my blogposts, especially when its about writing :).

    Amazingly, I find those "Beautiful People" interviews to help me personally a lot in illuminating my characters and just getting to know them better.

    Claudia isn't a "damsel in distress" type, is she; but she is very womanly I think. I just realized that you've never read any scene that Claudia is in yet! Something which shall soon be mended, I promise you. And yes, I am still discovering a lot about Valerius' history still...

    I'm pretty sure that picture is of Kira Knightly but I wouldn't know for sure. It really is a lovely picture, isn't it, and very close to how I imagined her.

    Thanks, you keep up the good writing too!

  5. That's a very interesting post, Joy, thank you for sharing.
    Your characters sound very interesting, and Valerius (Sp?) sounds like a deep man. He's in his mid-twenties then? I had thought that, but then was somehow thinking he was younger. Interesting!

    I liked the question about their worst childhood memory best.

    I like probing into Sullivan's (my main character) past. He has very poignant memories. I'm just beginning to probe into them in the story now, and am looking more and more to seeing how it opens up as he relives things.

    I'm not sure what his worst childhood memory would be, though. Maybe the death of his Papa, but he was already sixteen or seventeen when that happened, so I don't think it would be eligible! :)
    Hmmm....maybe his sister? maybe something happened with his sister when he was really young that he never forgot....

    Thanks for sharing!

    In Him;

  6. Hi April,

    I am glad you enjoyed reading this Beautiful People, and liked Valerius' character (the main protagonist). I know that customarily the position of tribune was given to men in their late twenties but there were exceptions especially among the patrician aristocrats. So, Valerius is actually 21 when you first meet him in The Crown of Life, but being a story set over at least 5 years he is like 26 by the end. Claudia is 16 at the start of the tale :).

    It was a intriguing question wasn't it! Well, I found it definitely harder to probe Valerius' past (unlike my other character Flavius who has a really dark and tragic history), but when I went searching I found good substance to go by :). I don't think that every character's childhood must be riddled with tragic deaths and all, but sometimes it just cradles a character like your character, Sullivan or my character Flavius. With Valerius, his brother's death is the guide that leads him to search for meaning in life and the truth. Valerius isn't filled with hatred and anger very much, but with sadness and inner conflict.

    It would be interesting to know what Sullivan's worst childhood memory was! Thank you for commenting, April, and I'll so try hard to get to commenting to your posts as well because they all look great!

  7. Oh, wow! Historical fiction set in ancient Rome?! I cheer you on! I don't think I could personally handle anything like that. When it comes to writing, fantasy is my realm. :)
    Your book really kinda reminds me of Quo Vadis. If you ever get a chance to publish it, I'd really love to purchase it! It sounds really interesting!

    eve @ essence of eve

    p.s. The quotes on your sidebar!? They're some of my favourite ones ever! Totally made my day!

  8. Thank you so very much, Eve, for your sweet encouragement and for commenting/following my blog! You made me smile :).

    It is challenging to write historical fiction set in Ancient Rome :), but it is equally fun! Fantasy is great, and very challenging too :). So what are you writing now?

    I am not surprised that my book reminds you of Quo Vadis; The Crown of Life is set in the same time period (A.D. 64) as Quo Vadis and deals with the early Church and the first persecution of the Christians under the Emperor Nero. I have only watched snippets of the movie Quo Vadis though and not the book, so I hope it isn't too similar :).

    Thank you again. These quotes on my sidebar are some of favourite too.

    In Christ,


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