Stephanie: I would like to welcome and introduce Author Alison Morton. Two time winner of the B.R.A.G. Medallion for her books, INCEPTIO and PERFIDITAS.
Hello, Alison. It is a pleasure to have you back and congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion for your book, PERFIDITAS. Please tell your audience about your story.
Alison: First of all, thank you so much, Stephanie, for inviting me here – I’m delighted to be able to share my particular vision of history and talk about PERFIDITAS, the latest in my series of alternate history thrillers.
We’re in present day Europe, in Roma Nova, the last remnant of the Roman Empire that has survived into the 21st century. It’s been seven years since Karen Brown fled New York (see INCEPTIO) to become Carina and take up her inheritance as the heir of a leading family and pursue a career as an officer in the Praetorian Guard Special Forces.
But she’s in trouble – one colleague has tried to kill her and another has set a trap to incriminate her in a conspiracy to topple the government of Roma Nova. Founded sixteen hundred years ago by Roman dissidents and ruled by women, Roma Nova barely survived a devastating rebellion thirty years ago. Carina swears to prevent a repeat and not merely for love of country.
Seeking help from a not quite legal old friend could wreck her marriage to the enigmatic Conrad. Once she’s proscribed and operating illegally, she risks being terminated by both security services and conspirators. As she struggles to overcome the desperate odds and save her beloved Roma Nova and her own life, she faces the ultimate betrayal…
Stephanie: Did you learn anything new about writing INCEPTIO and did you carry it over to PERFIDITAS?
Alison: I learnt my craft writing while INCEPTIO; not purely technical things like voice and structure but about not being precious about my work; listening to other, more experienced authors; balancing up all the advice and then making my own decision. Research figured very heavily as I wanted to bring more of the Roman feel to PERFIDITAS. INCEPTIO was the gentle way into the series; in PERFIDITAS, our heroine is truly part of the Roma Nova society. My respect for beta readers and professional editors increased and I appreciated even more the huge benefit of having professional publishing services working for me.
Stephanie: How long did it take to write your story?
Alison: I started drafting it in 2010, but as I was concentrating on having INCEPTIO published, I had to leave it and come back to it in 2011. It took around six months in all, including the research. After finishing the first draft, I left it for a few weeks to mature, then went back to revise it. You see all kinds of mistakes when you come back to a manuscript after a break.
Stephanie: Will there be a third book?
Alison: Indeed! The third is called SUCCESSIO which in Latin has the double meaning of ‘what happened next’ and ‘the next generation’. Carina and Conrad are faced with a nemesis from the past that throws the most difficult challenge they have even met straight at them. SUCCESSIO will be out late May/early June.
Stephanie: Please tell me about Conrad. What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Alison: “He didn’t need to move his lips to smile; it was in his eyes. Hazel with unfairly generous lashes, set in an angular, sculpted face. Sure, he looked good: tall, dark blond hair, the fit build of a professional soldier, but that wasn’t it. Fortuna had blessed him with the gift of charm. When he smiled, every man wanted to be his friend, to have his respect and companionship; every woman wanted him in her bed.
But when he was angry, his face shrank back onto its bones, the tilting eyes tilted more, and his lips almost disappeared. When I saw that expression, I was sure there had to be a Norseman or Hun in his gene pool.”
Conrad has had a terrible childhood that has made him uptight and a little cynical. He internalises hurt and doesn’t let his defences down easily. He’s overwhelmed and driven crazy by Carina, and in a way she is his weakness. He heads an elite military force, so he’s tough, but also fair with his troops. Sometimes his loyalty to Roma Nova makes him appear inflexible, but he is just as loyal and protective of his children. Like any man, whether in a standard society or an egalitarian one like Roma Nova, he reacts when somebody steps into his territory, especially when it concerns Carina…
Stephanie: Will you stick with writing within the Alternate History genre?
Alison: For at least the next four books! Roma Nova is a complete alternate world with a historical timeline of its own, so I think there is a great deal more to share with readers. I’m planning three more around another Roma Nova character whom we’ve already met but whose full story is crying out to be told.
Stephanie: Who are your influences when it comes to writing?
Alison: That is such a difficult question to answer! Whenever you pick up a new book, you face the pleasure and danger that it might be the book that drives the rest of your (writing) life. But recent strong influences have been Robert Harris’ Fatherland, Lindsey Davies Roman detective Falco series and J D Robb’s Eve Dallas ‘Death’ series.
Life influences have included an enduring fascination with Rome over its 1,229 years from its military ruthlessness, its fantastic engineering and high culture to its framework of law and values and the drive for knowledge that it left to the world. The other main influence for the Roma Nova books have been my own time in uniform which I loved; the sense of achievement, common purpose and comradeship were unequalled. And that’s how I met my husband!
Stephanie: When you are not writing, are there any hobbies you have? Like gardening, walking, crafting?
Alison: Haha! Well, I enjoy eating, breathing and sleeping. 😉 Writers are terrible obsessives and I’m no different, but we both enjoy walking and eating out. I run the local English book club here in France, write a monthly column for the English language magazine and I’m standing for the local council. So I think my calendar is quite full.
Stephanie: Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?
Alison: Firstly, thank you for buying my books; I’ve loved showing you around Roma Nova and introducing you to Carina. I really appreciate being part of the indieBRAG family. As readers you know that these self-published works are worth your confidence, time and hard-earned money! The support of loyal readers cannot be valued too highly. Many of you also post reviews on Amazon/Goodreads/iBooks/B&N/Kobo, feedback which is crucial for any writer to improve. I love talking about Roma Nova, so do make contact with me via my blog, Facebook Author Page or on Twitter. If you’d like to keep up to date on Roma Nova, find out quirky facts and interact, do sign up for my newsletter
Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?
Alison: Readers can download an extract and buy PERFIDITAS on a variety of online sites – links list here – as well as order the paperback through their local bookshop.
A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Alison, who is the author of, PERFIDITAS, one of our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, PERFIDITAS merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.