I love being a Roman writer and being seen as one. Imagine how delighted I was to be included in a list that my writing friend Ben Kane gave to a reader seeking Roman fiction authors. Last year at the Historical Novel Society conference, I had the privilege of taking part in a workshop with Douglas Jackson and Harry Sidebottom and of drinking tea and discussing Falco with Lindsey Davis (swoon!). At the Harrogate History Festival Conn Iggulden told me over a glass of red wine all about Roman ball-bearings – which really was fascinating! I sympathised with Ben Kane about his foot injured on the ‘Romani’ walk from Capua to Rome that he, Anthony Riches and Russell Whitfield had undertaken for charity; their film of the walk in Roman army uniform was mesmerising.
You know by now I’ve been infected with the fascination for Rome since at least the age of eleven. I’ve clambered over a lot of Roman Europe ever since, dragging members of my family along ancient cobbled roads, up towers and aqueducts and into theatres and arenas. But sharing this thirst/lust/obsession with similarly-minded is a joy.
Writing is another obsession, an isolated act done in a secluded room. However, you need a team of colleagues and supporters to give feedback (both brutal and kind), advice and encouragement. Little inspires you more than receiving praise from those in the same field. Ruth Downie, who featured as my writing blog guest last October, writes about Ruso, a grumpy Roman army medic saddled with a debt-ridden family, impossible bosses, annoying Britons, an elusive and headstrong servant and a murder. And that’s just the first book! Ruth’s immaculate research, dry humour and plotting mind are stitched into the whole story. Highly recommended.
Russell Whitfield focuses on another neglected subject, but in the epic mode – a gladiatrix or female gladiator. His Spartan Lysandra is a tough cookie, but her world is fierce beyond any jungle you can imagine. Russell endorsed my first novel INCEPTIO, introduced me to Simon Scarrow (who endorsed PERFIDITAS) and has been a friend of Roma Nova ever since.
I want to publicly thank Ruth for providing me with a lovely comment to sit on the front cover of AURELIA – praise from her is silver indeed. And Russell, thank you for a splendid endorsement leading those inside.
Gratias maximas vobis ago contubernales!
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