Alternate history stories - personal or grand scale?

607px-Jacques-Louis_David,_Le_Serment_des_HoracesRoman-themed stories and alternat(iv)e history stories could drive you to visualise a grand scale; empires lost and won, heroes and heroines fighting in their thousands, declaiming and sacrificing on battlefields and forum, unimagined tragedies and triumphs that turned the world’s, possibly the galaxy’s, history on its face. Epic events with epic challenges and epic poems to celebrate them down through the ages.

Not for me.

I rather like the small scale – individuals living ‘normal to them’ lives and who eat, sleep, make love and mistakes. The story of Karen Brown and her bid to escape Renschman, the government enforcer trying to destroy her in INCEPTIO, is the story of a mid-twenties something coming into her own rather than a big-scale national crisis. Of course, such individuals can make the vital difference to the bigger scale as Carina does in PERFIDITAS. But Carina has some very personal choices to make as she is caught between the love of two men who represent opposite existences for her future as well as for Roma Nova.

When we reach SUCCESSIO, the personal, professional and national crises are all mixed together! Readers have told me that although many of them would love to visit or even emigrate to the alternative country of Roma Nova, it’s the characters, their history and motivations, their strengths and flaws that pull them into that world.

The alternate history ‘what if’ framework is essential for stories set in an egalitarian-plus Roman society; sadly, the ancient empire collapsed before it could evolve to such an enlightened state of being. Its successor states haven’t got there either, but that’s another story! But through the stories of Carina and now Aurelia, we can get  a glimpse of what such an alternative timeline could have been like in reality…

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO,  PERFIDITAS and SUCCESSIO. The fourth book, AURELIA, is out on 5 May 2015.

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