About the Author

Dr. Reames
                          holding a sarissaSee Dr. Reames in The History Channel's Alexander episode

Interviews with the Author:

Born and raised in Florida, Jeanne Reames counts Lakeland as her hometown. She attended the University of Florida (Go Gators!) where she majored in English with a focus on creative writing. She still harbors a certain affection for the state because she knows it intimately, having been to virtually every county except a few in the panhandle, but doesn't miss the unremitting humidity or crazy-big bugs. Besides Lakeland, she's called Lake Wales, Tampa, and Gainesville home at some point.

She went on to acquire two more degrees in different subjects, albeit all in the humanities. And it was while pursuing a Master's at Emory that she first heard about this dude called "Alexander the Great" and realized she knew virtually nothing about him, but, given his apparent importance, perhaps she should learn something. This resulted in a trip to the Emory library, where she randomly selected two biographies. Fatefully, they were N.G.L. Hammond's Alexander the Great: King, Commander, and Statesman (his older, more measured bio) and Peter Green's Alexander of Macedon (the original Thames-and-Hudson version with images). Two more different views on the conqueror couldn't have been selected had she tried, and she grew fascinated by this complex figure who inspired such various opinion. Never one to do things by halves (and in that, maybe a bit too much like the subject of her new absorption), she checked out book after book, not only about Alexander, but also about ancient Macedon, then began chasing down various articles cited in the books. In between, she was still trying to get a degree in a different subject.

Fascination had turned to obsession.

How did she wind up a college professor? Sometime during her second semester at UF, while walking across the quad in what passed for a cool Florida February (meaning the temps were under 60 degrees), she decided that this college gig suited her. She could spend the rest of her life on a college campus. At the time, her ambition was to become an English professor. Certainly not a history professor, as she'd hated history in high school and assiduously avoided it in college. By her Master's, she'd changed her intended subject, but not her desire to become a professor. And then....

Well, Alexander always was a conqueror.

Yet it wasn't just Alexander who enthralled her; it was the entire country that gave birth to him. As a child, she hadn't had much interest in Greek and Roman myths, and like a lot of other geeky kids growing up in the 1970s and '80s, she fell in love with J.R.R. Tolkien and his world, then was sucked into Science Fiction and Fantasy (of which she remains a staunch fan as well as author). That led to a pursuit of All Things Celtic and Scandinavian. Greeks and Romans were So Last Year. Ergo, she knew little about Greece when she found herself dumped into Alexander's world. And like Alexander, she entered Greek history from the north. Thus, her view has always been a Macedonian one.

Her applications to PhD programs were all to schools and programs that would expand on her already existing Master's, except ... except ....  A conversation with Judy Tarr goaded her into picking up the phone to call Gene Borza at Penn State, asking if she was insane for considering a phud in history even though she had no useful language nor any prior history degree? He asked what she'd read, so she started listing off everything, only to have him stop her, laughing, and say, "You've already read more than most of my current students!"

It was still a long shot, not only to be accepted, but to be accepted with funding (a graduate assistantship). Nonetheless, one application went out to Penn State. She decided to let Tyche (Lady Fortune) decide her fate.

Jeanne and
                          Manolis Andronikos, ThessalonikiAgainst all odds, Penn State offered the funding. So in the summer of 1992, she and her then-husband left sunny Tampa for State College in Happy Valley, Pennsylvania, and learned to drive in snow. 5½ years later, after giving birth twice in 12 months (1 baby boy + 1 dissertation), she walked across a stage to be hooded as a doctor of philosophy in, of all disciplines, history! Somewhere, the ghost of her history-loving mother was laughing. That was December of 1998.

While at Penn State, she taught for both Religion as well as Classics/emerging CAMS. In 2000, she was hired by the University of Nebraska-Omaha for a tenure track position, where she's been ever since. She's less a husband, although they remain friends--which is why you'll find her published work as both Reames-Zimmerman and Reames. And her baby boy is now a bearded young man almost six feet tall, who makes fun of his little mother while changing light-bulbs she can't reach.

Aside from teaching Greek history, she's served as the History Department's Graduate Program Chair, and with several of her colleagues in various departments, started the Ancient Mediterranean Studies Program, which she's directed since its inception in 2014. Her professional CV lists various publications, conference papers, grants, classes taught, and offices served, but that likely isn't of great interest to readers of Dancing with the Lion, except as proof she might know something about Alexander and Macedonia. Her most immediate next academic project is a court study of Hephaistion and Krateros, tentatively titled, Playing for Keeps: Hephaistion and Krateros at the Court of Alexander the Great. If she wrote on Hephaistion for her dissertation, the 20+ years since graduating has given her useful distance to mull over prior conclusions, keeping some and changing her mind about others. The ability to change one's mind is necessary to intellectual maturity. Her primary research interest remains Argead Macedonia: e.g., the kingdom up through the reign of Alexander. The wealth of recent archaeological finds for early Macedon gives new perspectives independent of our limited textual evidence. Some even challenges what we thought we knew, especially about the sophistication of pre-Philip Macedon.

Reames signing at The BookwormWill she continue to write fiction? Yes, of course. She's working on an epic fantasy series called Master of Battles which borrows liberally from ancient history but mixes up all the pieces (Greece and Carthage never fell, Rome never rose, nor did Macedon...until now, and oh yeah,
there are two branches of humanity, one of which has a handy prehensile tail). She's also completed half of an SFF trilogy about Dionysos and Ariadne, and hopes to return to Alexander's story too. She's published short fiction, "Indeterminate Creatres," Native American Literatures: Generations, 2010, republished in Voices from the Plains, 2018 ed., and "I Choose to Fall Later," Red Ink, 2013.

She lives in midtown Omaha in a neo-Tudor built in 1936. With her son grown and on his own, she shares her little house with a black cat (Licorice), a tuxie (Cecilia Iphigeneia), a Siamese (Kleopatra--after Alex's sister), a beta her son named Herbie, and a feisty fox squirrel who argues with her over who has rights to the garden at what time of the day. In warm weather, her front porch will be occupied by a key lime bush named Cyrus the Great, because she's still a Florida Girl at heart.

Images: Dr. Reames holding a sarissa, photo by Dr. Graham Wrightson (whose project at South Dakota State University created the sarissa in question), and Dr. Reames in Thessaloniki by the statue in honor of Manolis Andronikos, who found ancient Aigai, photo by Ann Haverkost. Dr. Reames at a reading at The Bookworm, Omaha, by Angela Kroeger.