Thank you very much for welcoming me to your blog, Freda. Today 1st March, my debut novel, INCEPTIO, is published. Hooray! Three years of slog – researching, writing, and polishing – have led to this exciting moment. Like you, Freda, I love my history. I even went ‘back to school’ after a thirty year break to study for a history MA. So it was natural that I wanted to weave a historical theme into my writing. But for me, it was the Romans.
So what sparked off this interest?
As an eleven year old I was fascinated by the mosaics in Ampurias (a huge Roman site in Spain). I asked my father, “What would it be like if Roman women were in charge, instead of the men?” Maybe it was the fierce sun boiling my brain that day, maybe it was just a precocious kid asking a smartarse question. But clever man and senior ‘Roman nut’, my father replied, “What do you think it would be like?” Real life intervened (school, uni, career, military, marriage, motherhood, business ownership, move to France), but the idea bubbled away in my mind and INCEPTIO slowly took shape.
|Alison aged eleven exploring the Roman Mosaic|
How did you get published?
Of course, I made the classic mistake of submitting too soon, but had some encouraging replies. Several rewrites later and I’d made some full submissions, even to a US agent! I had replies like ‘If it was a straight thriller, I’d take it on’ and ‘Your writing is excellent, but it wouldn’t fit our list.’ Maybe one day I’ll write a straight thriller or historical fiction, but I was (am!) passionate about my stories so I decided to self publish with bought-in publishing services.
The publishing industry is shifting under our feet. Some commentators see 2013 as the year when self-publishing splits into personal projects, DIY but serious, pick ‘n’ mix (buying in services as required) and full partnership publishing. We do, as the Chinese say live in ‘interesting times’. I chose a high quality publishing services provider who did everything (editing, advice, registrations, typesetting, design, book jacket, proofing, etc.). I’ve found it a fantastic way for a new writer to enter the market.
Alison, you describe your novel as an “alternate history thriller”. Tell us what this means.
Alternate history is based on the idea of “what if”? What if King Harold had won the Battle of Hastings in 1066? Or if Julius Caesar had taken notice of the warning that assassins wanted to murder him on the Ides of March? Or even if Mrs Jordan’s marriage to the Duke of Clarence had been legal and their eldest son George had become king instead of Victoria becoming queen?
The rest of the story or history of a country, from that point on develops differently from the one we know. In my book, Roma Nova survived from a small colony in the late fourth century somewhere north of Italy into a high tech, financial mini-state which kept and developed Roman Republican values, but with a twist. It’s really fun working this out! The thriller story then takes place against this background.
Stories with Romans are usually about famous emperors, epic battles, depravity, intrigue, wicked empresses and a lot of sandals, tunics and swords. But imagine the Roman theme projected sixteen hundred years further forward into the 21st century. How different would that world be?
What a fascinating approach, and a joy for a writer’s imagination. Having written about Mrs Jordan I can tell you that her son George never got over being illegitimate and not being King, and committed suicide, poor man. An alternative to that outcome would be wonderful. So tell me more about INCEPTIO.
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 available as both paperback and ebook.
You can’t stop now Alison, what do you plan to write next? I’m working on PERFIDITAS, the second book in the Roma Nova series.
Thank you Alison, that was fascinating. You can read more about Alison, Romans, alternate history and writing on her blog:
and follow her on Twitter @alison_morton