Thank you for welcoming me to your blog, Mandy.
Tomorrow, my debut novel, INCEPTIO, is published. Hooray! Three years of slog – researching, writing, and polishing – have led to this exciting moment.
That's fantastic! Tell me, how did you become a writer?
I’ve played with words most of my life - storyteller, playwright (aged 7), article writer, local magazine editor and professional translator. Something clicked in my brain one evening in the darkened auditorium of our local multiplex on half-price Wednesday. We were watching a particularly dire film. The photography was gorgeous, the story total rubbish.
‘I could do better than this,’ I whispered in the dark to my other half.
‘So why don’t you?’
Three months later, I had completed the first draft of INCEPTIO, the first of my Roma Nova alternate history thrillers.
I knew I needed to learn novel-crafting skills so joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme in 2010. Participation in two RNA conferences, an Arvon Foundation course in commercial fiction and the Festival of Writing at York all helped me develop my writing. And I met some knowledgeable, generous and fun people along the way. My history MA had taught me how to research and my six years in the Territorial Army trained me to do ‘guns and mud’. Perfect preparation for INCEPTIO.
My husband took early retirement, I sold my translation business and we decamped to France in May 2010. Surrounded by peace, fresh air and sunshine, I have written two further books in the series. I write most mornings after a short spurt on social media, and do domestic stuff in the afternoons. In the evening, I’ll write a few more lines or research but more likely
er, ‘interact with professional colleagues’ on Facebook and Twitter.
Ah yes...I tend to interact with professional colleagues quite a bit too . So, what advice do you have for other writers?
Bash the story out and tell the story; it’s the most important thing. Put it away for at least six weeks, then do the first self-edit, checking the plot structure, deleting the dreadful parts and working on the sloppy bits. Then back into the drawer and start the next project. A few weeks later, take it out of the drawer and scrutinise each sentence, word by word, forcing each one to justify its existence. Then you have something to work with.
So Roma Nova – that’s about Romans?
Stories with Romans are usually about famous emperors, epic battles, depravity, intrigue, wicked empresses and a lot of shouty men with sandals, tunics and swords. But project the Roman theme sixteen hundred years forward into the 21st century, and with a feminist twist - how unlike ours would that world be?
Inventing a different development in history is not for the faint-hearted. I firmly believe you have to know your history reasonably well before sending it in a different direction. I’ve been a ‘Roman nut’ since I was eleven, fascinated by my first mosaic. More importantly, I know what I don’t know and am prepared to track it down.
Can you tell us a little of what INCEPTIO is about?
It starts in New York – present day, alternate reality. Karen Brown, angry and frightened after surviving a kidnap attempt, has a harsh choice – being eliminated by government enforcer Jeffery Renschman or fleeing to the mysterious Roma Nova, her dead mother’s homeland in Europe. Founded sixteen centuries ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women, Roma Nova gives Karen safety, a ready-made family and a new career. But a shocking discovery about her new lover, the fascinating but arrogant special forces officer Conrad Tellus who rescued her in America, isolates her.
Renschman reaches into her new home and nearly kills her. Recovering, she is desperate to find out why he is hunting her so viciously. Unable to rely on anybody else, she undergoes intensive training, develops fighting skills and becomes an undercover cop. But crazy with bitterness at his past failures, Renschman sets a trap for her, knowing she has no choice but to spring it...
INCEPTIO is released tomorrow as both paperback and eBook, in the UK
Wow that sounds so unusual! I like the idea of a place ruled by women! Do you have other irons in your productive fire?
Yes. I’m working on PERFIDITAS, the second book in the Roma Nova series.
Thanks for being my guest today, Alison. Can't wait for tomorrow!
You can read more about Alison, Romans, alternate history and writing at:www.alison-morton.com, www.facebook.com/AlisonMortonAuthor and follow her on Twitter @alison_morton