Read an excerpt HERE.

Click on image to buy PERFIDITAS.BRAG

Read an excerpt HERE.

Click on image to buy INCEPTIO. Amazon bestseller

You don’t want to be alone!

writingSitting by yourself, in a spare bedroom, study, or even at the dining room table, and tapping away on a keyboard can be a lonely business. People wonder why you don’t go outdoors on a sunny day or wander into the village for a leisurely drink at the local bar or browse around the market. But you don’t want to see, let alone talk, to other people. You are absorbed in your writing world.

Of course, you need to get the word count or the hours in on your latest work in progress – that’s understood. But why do you need to interact with other people? Ninety-six percent of people aren’t interested in writing or in your latest work, you mutter to yourself. You’ve often watched their eyes glaze over when you reply honestly to the enquiry about how your writing is going. But four per cent are interested and you need to find them. Why?

  • Your mental health – you are a human being who needs contact with like-minded souls
  • Learning from others’ experiences – competitions, agents, the ever-increasing number of routes to publication, conferences, writing and book events
  • Getting critiques from other writers – not Auntie Maud who taught English or your mate at work
  • Learning new writing techniques and approaches to work – not just how to sling words together, but about characterisation, the senses, novel or poetry structure, research
  • Networking to make those vital contacts to get your book published
  • Not boring your nearest and dearest
Colleagues at the RNA Conference

Colleagues at the RNA Conference

So where are these fellow-writers? Starting locally, try and find a writing group. Look in the local press, the library and online. Ask anybody who has a faint connection with writing. Ask at your local book club – some of them may be writers. Have a chat to the organiser and go and try out such a group. The main requirements are a supportive open atmosphere, honesty and a lack of ego-tripping.

Next are writing associations, usually specific to a genre of writing, such as the Romantic Novelists’ Association or the Historical Novel Society. They have events, regional groups, newsletters, Facebook pages, websites, blogs – you name it! If you are thinking of self-publishing nothing beats the camaraderie of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). Even remotely, you can benefit enormously.

ALLI authors meet up at the London Book Fair April 2014

ALLI authors meet up at the London Book Fair April 2014

Online critique groups can be a little daunting at first, but as you grow a writer’s thick skin, you’re likely to find it helpful and inspiring as well as immensely valuable. But you’ll need to plunge in!

Going to conferences can be a real boost to your writing. There are hundreds of literary festivals each year in the UK, including more practical ones for writers such as the Writers’ Workshop events where you can meet fellow writers, agents and publishers. Moreover, you may hook up with another writer you can develop into a writing buddy, or more formally, critique partner. With Skype and email it’s no problem to discuss and work on writing together at distance. The writing buddy must be someone you trust, so it may take a little while to get to know them. Mine has kept me sane and grounded over the years so they’re worth their weight in gold!

Happy writing!


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, and PERFIDITAS. Third in series, SUCCESSIO, is now out.

Find out about Roma Nova news, writing tips and info by signing up for my free monthly email newsletter.

Writing people or writing stuff?

dumpingTalking online with some colleagues about historical and alternative historical writing, the conversation inevitably turned to research and how it was woven in or dripped into the story. We all declaimed against the dreaded info dump when the poor reader gets a JCB bucket size load of history book content poured on them. But how much period or descriptive detail is the right amount?

I’m the minimalist type like many thriller writers. I give the reader enough to form their own picture of where and what, and to see the bare winter trees or sniff the air. Writers must also include some elements of backstory and context or the reader doesn’t feel engaged. But it should relate to the narrative of the story and not be there because the writer has done some wonderful research.

So far, so normal.

Elizabeth I at Tilbury

Elizabeth I at Tilbury facing the Spanish Armada

But there’s another strong factor to consider: what type of tone and style is the story? Is it literary, a learned, almost non-fiction in its meticulous portrayal of a dramatised version of documented history or an adventure, action story where plot is the main driver or a romantic story or saga where the lives of the characters are the focus of the book?  Is the writer seeking to bring in every detail of events of the period  and their effect on history, to describe every hook, lace and braid, or to draw some universal truth, lesson or interpretation about people by playing their story out as it may have happened in a past era, or to engage them in a very personal and emotional story which happens to have a historical setting? Or to describe technological change in detail, or social revolution? Or a mixture of any of these?

P&PcoverWhilst I dislike deliberately ignored or changed important facts such as who won a battle or married a different prince, and am irritated by smaller ones that can be easily checked such as purple fabric dye or potatoes, I’m not a historical fiction snob. Historical-lite is as valuable as historical-serious as long as it’s well done. Stories about great events written in a high style prose appeal to some ‘histfic’ readers; others enjoy personal stories, military tales or Regency fluff.

Historical fiction embraces many types and tastes. Some write about people, some about stuff, some about a mixture of both. And it’s always the reader’s choice what they pick up and read.


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, and PERFIDITAS. Third in series, SUCCESSIO, is now out.

Find out about Roma Nova news, writing tips and info by signing up for my free monthly email newsletter.

Licensed to thrill!

ITW logoI am absolutely delighted to have become an author member of the International Thriller Writers.
*Happy dance around the office*

The presidents are M J Rose and Lee Child and their membership list includes James Patterson, Clive Cussler, Karin Slaughter, Peter James, Kathy Reichs, Ken Follett and many many other wonderful adrenaline-bursters like Adrian Magson and Mari Hannah.

In their own words…

“ITW represents professional thriller authors from around the world.

The International Thriller Writers is an honorary society of authors, both fiction and nonfiction, who write books broadly classified as “thrillers.” This would include (but isn’t limited to) such subjects as murder mystery, detective, suspense, horror, supernatural, action, espionage, true crime, war, adventure, and myriad similar subject areas.

ITW’s mission is “To bestow recognition and promote the thriller genre at an innovative and superior level for and through our Active members; to provide opportunities for mentoring, education and collegiality among thriller authors and industry professionals; and to grant awards for excellence in the thriller genre.” ITW By-laws: Article II, Purposes, Section 2.

One of the main purposes of the organization is to provide a way for successful, bestselling authors to help debut and midlist authors advance their careers. To that end, ITW has designed numerous, effective programs and events which promote debut and midlist writers and their work, sometimes in partnership with bestselling authors.

In addition, ITW promotes literacy, gives money to worthy organizations, supports libraries, and advances the genre. Finally, it brings together almost a thousand writers, readers, publishers,  editors and agents at its annual conference, ThrillerFest, as well as at CraftFest, a writing workshop program, and AgentFest, where aspiring authors can meet and pitch top literary agents.

Today, ITW counts over fifteen hundred members from around the world whose cumulative book sales total almost three billion copies. “Our members come from a diverse range of the thriller genre, fiction and nonfiction, including suspense, mystery, horror, detective, espionage, legal, medical, science, true crime, adventure, supernatural, romantic suspense, historical, and young adult—and the list keeps growing.”

I think I’ve just introduced a new part of the genre with the Roma Nova thrillers!


You can subscribe to the online magazine The Big Thrill packed with news, author interviews (e.g. Val McDermid interviewed by JF Penn), book spotlights and round table discussions (e.g. “Do readers prefer and ageless protagonist?” or “Do writers strive too hard for unusual methods of murder and what are some of the most memorable?”).

If all goes to plan, I’ll be in the US next summer, so I may well be going to Thrillerfest in New York in July!


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, and PERFIDITAS. Third in series, SUCCESSIO, is now out.

Find out about Roma Nova news, writing tips and info by signing up for my free monthly email newsletter.

Win Jessica Bell’s thriller, White Lady!

perf5.250x8.000.inddTo celebrate the release of her latest novel, WHITE LADY, my writing friend Jessica Bell is giving away an ebook (mobi, ePub, or PDF) to the first person to correctly guess the one in the three statements below. Two statements are false and one is true:

Jessica Bell’s first ever job in Australia was as a …

  1. waitress
  2. pharmacist’s assistant
  3. sales assistant in a bead shop

So which one do you think could be true? Write your guess in the comments, along with your email address. Comments will close in 48 hours. If no-one guesses correctly within the 48 hours, comments will stay open until someone does. (We thriller writers are relentless!)

Give it a go – you have a one in three chance!

Want more chances to win? You have until 31 October to visit all the blogs where Jessica will share a different set of true and false statements on each one. Remember, each blog is open to comments for 48 hours only from the time of posting.

If you win, we’ll notify you by email with instructions on how to download the book.

Jessica’s fluent, realistic style doesn’t hold back, so you should be aware the novel contains coarse language, violence, and sexual themes.

​Sonia yearns for sharp objects and blood. But now that she’s rehabilitating herself as a “normal” mother and mathematics teacher, it’s time to stop dreaming about slicing people’s throats.

While being the wife of Melbourne’s leading drug lord and simultaneously dating his best mate is not ideal, she’s determined to make it work.

It does work. Until Mia, her lover’s daughter, starts exchanging saliva with her son, Mick. They plan to commit a crime behind Sonia’s back. It isn’t long before she finds out and gets involved to protect them.

But is protecting the kids really Sonia’s motive?

Watch the book trailer (I recommend it!)

If you can’t wait, here’s where you can buy White Lady.

Jessica BellJessica Bell, a thirty-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, is the Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. She makes a living as a writer/editor for English Language Teaching Publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, MacMillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

Connect with Jessica online:
Website | Blog | Vine Leaves Literary Journal | Retreat & workshop
Facebook | Twitter


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, and PERFIDITAS. Third in series, SUCCESSIO, is now out.

Find out about Roma Nova news, writing tips and info by signing up for my free monthly email newsletter.

Meet Lorna Fergusson - winner and tutor!

Lorna FergussonToday, I’m delighted to welcome acclaimed author and HNS Conference Short Story winner Lorna Fergusson to Roma Nova.
Born and brought up in Scotland, Lorna studied English at Aberdeen and Oxford Universities. She now runs Fictionfire Literary Consultancy. In addition to her own workshops, she teaches at the Winchester Writers’ Festival and for Oxford University. Her novel The Chase, originally published by Bloomsbury, is now published under her own imprint, Fictionfire Press. Her stories have won an Ian St James Award, been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and longlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize. Her unpublished children’s novel Hinterland reached the shortlist of four for Pan Macmillan’s Write Now prize.  Her story ‘Reputation’, longlisted in the Historical Novel Society’s short story award 2012, appears in the e-anthology The Beggar at the Gate. She is working on a collection of historical short stories and a novel and she has just won the Historical Novel Society’s London 2014 Short Story Award with her story ‘Salt’.

Welcome, Lorna!
Your book The Chase has a beautiful but mysterious cover. Tell us, what attracted you to the idea of setting it in France, and especially in the Dordogne?

View of Dordogne river from ramparts at Domme_smFor several years my husband and I had a half-share in a house near Bergerac. We’d always had a lot of love for French culture. I completely fell in love with the Dordogne landscape and the powerful sense of the layers of history all around. The region has strong associations with England – whether back in medieval times or currently, where some villages still have a sizeable English population.

In The Chase, the central characters Netty and Gerald Feldwick move to the Dordogne in the 1980s, buying an old hunting lodge in the heart of the woods where they think they can escape memories of a terrible loss. As their intense emotional drama plays out, we learn that the mysterious house is haunted by the spirit of the past. I decided to give special resonance to the location by interpolating short chapters to show the reader what has really been going on in that place.

Lascaux_painting (courtesy of Prof saxx, via Wikipedia)These episodes move through pre-history (the novel opens with cave-paintings like those of Lascaux and Font de Gaume), the Gallo-Roman period, the Hundred Years’ War, the French Revolution, the early nineteenth century and the Second World War. I had great fun researching and writing each of these vignettes and using them to heighten the atmosphere and mirror the central story. I also loved capturing the sensory appeal of the countryside, the food, the architecture, the joie de vivre of the Périgord. In everything I write, history and location matter. I’m fascinated by our relationship with the people of the past – in what ways they were like us and in what ways they differed. And I can never read about historical events without thinking ‘That would make a good story’!

You run courses for writers through Fictionfire. What do you think is the most important thing new writers need to learn to equip them for a successful career?
Well, there are lots of possible answers to this one, but if you’re planning to make a career out of writing, I think the key attribute you need is resilience. Resilience means being able to come back to the page or screen, day after day, year after year, whether the writing is going well or badly, because you’re committed to pursuing your art to the best of your ability. If you’re resilient you can take criticism on the chin and you can learn from it. You can cope with rejection – and rejection will come, believe me! Resilience gives you the strength to shed tears and shout a bit when you’ve been misunderstood, when the story you loved writing can’t seem to find a home, when the market seems to have closed its doors to you. After the tears and the shouting and the vows you’ll give up on the whole damn thing, what do you do? You keep writing.

Lorna HNS winner

Lorna (centre) winner of the 2014 HNS Conference Short Story Competition (Photo courtesy of Johnny Yates for the HNS)

Resilience is adventurousness – you may decide you’ll publish your own work, create your own niche, do your own marketing. You need faith in yourself as a writer. What resilience is not, however, is arrogance: you’re willing to listen to advice and you’re open to change. If you’re resilient, you bend – you don’t break. Your reward may not be the mega book-deal you dreamed of – it may be even better, even more lasting. It may be that someone eagerly tells you they sat up half the night to read your book – what could be more satisfying than to know you affected a reader’s emotions through the power of your words? Essentially, the reward lies in knowing you stuck to the task, you believed you could do it – and you saw it through.


St Ives

And when’s your next course for writers?
‘Fictionfire by the Sea Writers’ Workshop and Retreat’, St Ives, Cornwall 17-19 October:

Some nice things others have said about The Chase
The Chase_Paperback
Lorna Fergusson weaves a vivid but dark tale set in the beautiful Dordogne, where past and present fuse in a page-turning mystery. I could go back to this again and again.’ Alison Weir, novelist and historian

Steeped in the atmosphere, history and excitement of France … It is definitely the sort of book that is difficult to put down.’ Living France magazine

Where can we buy your book?
The Chase
is available as a paperback (including from the author’s online shop at ) and as an ebook: and also on Kobo:

Thank you for taking time out of your schedule and good luck with your writing and teaching.

Find out more about Lorna:
Lorna’s blog, Literascribe:
Fictionfire Literary Consultancy:
Facebook: and
Twitter: @LornaFergusson


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, and PERFIDITAS. Third in series, SUCCESSIO, is now out.

Find out about Roma Nova news, writing tips and info by signing up for my free monthly email newsletter.