The story behind The Olympian: A Tale of Ancient Hellas has been floating around my head since I was a kid and saw Rudolph Mate’s 1962 film “The 300 Spartans.” Thirty-six years later, a friend tossed Steven Pressfield’s book Gates of Fire on my desk and said, I think you would enjoy this.” My friend was correct. A few years later, I was getting serious about writing a book. I wanted to write about the real worth of a human being … what gives a person’s life value. The Spartan stand at Thermopylae was how I envisioned telling the story. Then I read an article about an ancient Olympic boxer, Theagenes of Thasos who won the boxing competition at the 75th Olympiad in 480 B.C. By pulling the two events together — the Olympic Games and the Battle of Thermopylae — I developed the story I wanted to tell to present my core concept: the worth of a man is determined not by what he does for himself, rather by what he does for others.
In 2002, my son Brad and I had dinner with Steven Pressfield at a small Italian restaurant in Malibu. I ran the idea by him. He liked it and encouraged me to go for it. Six years later, the book was in print and the film rights optioned.