Friends, Roma Novans and colleagues lent me their hours. The bubbly flowed in the glorious library at the University Women’s Club in Mayfair as we gathered to celebrate the publication of the third thriller in the Roma Nova series.
I’d asked long term Roma Nova fan Sue Cook to sit in conversation with me and ask a few questions. We talked about mosaics, aqueducts and Roman values, how alternate history differed from standard history and whether the Roma Nova books were feminist. (Light, but definitely yes.)
Then she asked me about how my own past had influenced my writing of heroine Carina and I admitted to abseiling out of helicopters and doing NATO training and a lot of crawling around in mud with a gun in my hand during my time in uniform. ‘Ah,’ she said, ‘now I understand better where Carina comes from.’ I just grinned.
We talked about the dynamic of Carina’s tangled relationship with the hero, Conrad, and his troubled past. No book is complete, I said, without leading characters being in deep trouble and having some serious flaws which aren’t always as straightforward as they seem…
‘And why was Carina from (a rather different) America?’, Sue pressed. I explained that I wanted as much contrast as possible between the New World where Carina was brought up and the very old European Roma Nova.
And what was the future for Roma Nova? I smiled and confessed I was already halfway through book 4 which started the story of her grandmother when she was a young woman in the 1960s.
Deceptively lighthearted, Sue probed so gently and pleasantly I almost forgot I was being interviewed by one of the nation’s expert presenters.
Questions from the audience followed, mostly about writing and research. When writing alternate history, you have to research thoroughly at the point in history when you decide to split from the real timeline so that you have a good basis. I explained I had a good enough general grounding of the period and culture, so tended to concentrate on getting the story out – ‘bashing it out’. Historical detail, the intricacies of sub-plots and editing can came at a later stage.
I managed to talk to most people during the book signing afterwards, but what I loved was seeing my guests all talking together.
If you missed the launch and would like to buy a copy of SUCCESSIO, here’s where.
Watch the video of the launch – well, three minutes of chit-chat!
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