Welcome to Alison Morton and a celebration of the 10th Anniversary Harback release of Inceptio, Book 1 in the Roma Nova series.
Published: 28 March 2023 (original ebook and paperback 1 March 2013) / 390 pages
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INCEPTIO 10th Anniversary special edition hardback:
International Buy Link: https://mybook.to/INCEPTIOHardback / Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BTXR81DZ / Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BTXR81DZ / Amazon AUS: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0BTXR81DZ / Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0BTXR81DZ / Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/inceptio-alison-morton/1143030797 / Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Inceptio/9791097310363 / Your local bookshop or library
“It’s about Roman blood, survival and money. Mostly yours.”
In an alternative New York, Karen Brown is running for her life. She makes a snap decision to flee to Roma Nova – her dead mother’s homeland, the last remnant of the Roman Empire in the 21st century. But can Karen tough it out in such an alien culture? And with a crazy killer determined to terminate her for a very personal reason?
Stifled by the protective cocoon of her Roma Novan family, deceived by her new lover, she propels herself into a dangerous mission. But then the killer sets a trap – she must sacrifice herself for another – and she sees no escape.
A thriller laced with romance and coming of age, this first in series is Roman fiction brought into the 21st century through the lens of alternative history and driven by a female protagonist with heart and courage.
This 10thAnniversary hardback edition includes bonus content: Three character ‘conversations’, two short stories and the story behind INCEPTIO.
Alison Morton writes award-winning thrillers featuring tough but compassionate heroines. Her ten-book Roma Nova series is set in an imaginary European country where a remnant of the ancient Roman Empire has survived into the 21st century and is ruled by women who face conspiracy, revolution and heartache but with a sharp line in dialogue. INCEPTIO starts the adventure…
She blends her fascination for Ancient Rome with six years’ military service and a life of reading historical, crime and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history.
Six full-length Roma Nova novels, including INCEPTIO, have won the BRAG Medallion, the prestigious award for indie fiction. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices. AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. The Bookseller selected SUCCESSIO as Editor’s Choice in its inaugural indie review. The Historical Novel Society recently selected JULIA PRIMA, the first Foundation story set in the 4th century, the accolade of Editors’ Choice.
Alison lives in Poitou in France, the home of Mélisende, the heroine of her two contemporary thrillers, Double Identity and Double Pursuit. Oh, and she’s writing the next Roma Nova story.
Here’s my interview with Alison:
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions.
Thank you for inviting me to visit your blog again, Paul.
How did you become an author?
By accident! Although I’d written all my life – dissertation, PR materials, government papers, translations – and have been an avid reader since I was four years old, I had no thought of writing fiction. But one evening in the local cinema, a trigger was pulled in my brain. I was appalled by the lack of continuity and the dreadful dialogue in a popular film and whispered to my husband. ‘I could to better than that!’ He replied ‘Well, why don’t you?’ Ninety days later, I had a 90,000-word manuscript on my computer with no idea what to do with it. The story poured out of me as I was glued (not literally!) to the computer. Strong Roman themes were essential – I’d been a ‘Roman nut’ since age eleven – as was a military element – Rome was a military society. However, I wanted a woman leading the action, not merely playing a victim, assistant, consultant, girlfriend/partner/wife or token female, so I brought it up to the 21st century, alternating history in the way Robert Harris did in Fatherland. As soon as the first story was finished, the next jumped into my head and I was typing again.
Tell us about your writing process.
I go through a period of having too much fun going down research rabbit holes, then pull myself together and bash out the first draft. If I’m drawing in characters from other books in the series, I go back and re-read those books so that I don’t trip myself up on their appearance and to re-familiarise myself with, for instance, they way they speak. I don’t often write character sketches, but I do keep a spreadsheet with ages at critical points in the series. Then the real work begins as I read through and analyse every single word I wrote. There is copious use of the red pen. Writers must grit their teeth and not be shy of criticising their own work. After I’m completely sick of the now pared and honed script, it’s my critique partner’s turn and she gives it her dose of brutal love. When I’ve completed all of these revisions, it goes to the professional copy editor.
How would you persuade readers to buy your book(s)?
By offering them an escape into a better world, sympathetic characters, and a chance to feed their imagination with one of the most asked historical ‘what ifs’. Who doesn’t wonder what the Romans would have done with paper, electricity and the Internet?
What is your all-time favourite book? What makes it special?
A difficult question, but Restless by William Boyd would be near the front of the queue. Like all Boyd books, the prose is clever, witty and near perfect. A quintessential espionage thriller, it features women with agency, as intelligent beings who are aware, wary and determined. Restless also won the 2006 Costa Prize for fiction.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve been reading advance copies for several authors, so I can’t give those titles away, but I did enjoy Rebecca Stott’s Dark Earth, set in AD 500 in what had been Roman London. In essence, it’s about two very different sisters trying to find relatives to protect them in a world ruled by blood ties, feuds and men desperate to forge permanent holdings for their people. It deals with not only with the sisters’ relationship and about being outsiders, but also their struggle to find safety and security in a world where they was very little of either.
Which author(s) (past or present) would you invite to dinner?
William Boyd would be there, Lindsey Davis who writes the Falco and Flavia Albia Roman detective series and Pliny the Younger who not only knew a great deal about his world, but also liked a good gossip!
What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or passions?
Reading is an obsession, plus, if you’re a writer, reading is part of developing your professional skills, so I’m not counting that! I enjoy swimming, gardening and drinking our local wine here in France.
How important is it to have your historical facts right and are there any instances when you would bend history to fit your story?
I mostly write alternative history, such as INCEPTIO which I’m celebrating here, so I’m outside the standard historical timeline before I type a word! However, in Roma Nova, I’ve striven to build a historically logic and consistent world. As reader, I dislike historical inaccuracy and always search for the author’s historical note after the story. A few days, even even months’ change here and there can sometimes help the narrative, but if they’ve played around with accuracy, e.g. tomatoes at a 14th century picnic, a Regency novel character saying ‘Yeah, right’ or they haven’t explained an obvious anomaly, it diminishes my enjoyment of the story and I probably wouldn’t read another one of theirs.
Last year when I wrote JULIA PRIMA, a standard historical novel set in 370 AD (which gained an HNS Editors’ Choice mention), I applied my MA History tutor’s often repeated injunction to find three sources for any ‘fact’. With huge gaps in sources and those sources written by a select group (educated, usually upper class, men), I can’t guarantee there are no historical errors in JULIA PRIMA. I follow writing friend Conn Iggulden’s advice that if we can’t find the facts after our best research, then we must fill in the gaps as intelligently as possible. Historical fiction should entertain the reader and possibly prompt them to find out more, but it shouldn’t betray their trust.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Persist! And be prepared to take constructive criticism. Producing a book is a team effort, and picking a good cover designer and editor is essential.
What are your future plans as an author?
I’m a third of the way through a sequel to JULIA PRIMA, hopefully getting to the pivotal date of 395 AD this time. When I set out to write the historical foundation story of Roma Nova in the late fourth century, I thought it would all be in one book. Like many good intentions, that didn’t happen. Next year, I may tackle the third in my contemporary French espionage series. Plenty of work lies ahead!
Social media links:
Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site: https://alison-morton.com – Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AlisonMortonAuthor – Twitter: https://twitter.com/alison_morton – Alison’s writing blog: https://alisonmortonauthor.com – Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alisonmortonauthor/ – Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5783095.Alison_Morton
Alison’s Amazon page: https://Author.to/AlisonMortonAmazon – Newsletter sign-up: https://www.alison-morton.com/newsletter/
Thank you for a fascinating interview, Alison and congratulations on the 10th Anniversary release of INCEPTIO