Characters in Motion with Alison Morton

AURELIA BRAGMeet Aurelia Mitela – woman and warrior

Aurelia Mitela, archetype Roma Novan, came to life when I was writing the first Roma Nova book, INCEPTIO. Then, she was the clever, experienced grandmother of Carina, the book’s heroine.

Let Carina tell you in her own words of her first impression of Aurelia:

“She’d been so concerned for me, but not in a soppy way. Direct and ‘no-nonsense’ fitted her perfectly, but her smile had been warm. I couldn’t help speculating how it would have been to grow up with her instead of the Browns.

I started tapping the keys, surfing for Roma Nova while I was drinking and thinking. I couldn’t leave it alone. My grandmother’s name shot out at me. Fascinated, I loaded the English translation. The screen displayed a list of her business interests. Sketchy on detail, it gave some personal stuff at the end: head of the influential Mitela family, senator and government advisor, cousin to the current imperatrix. She really was a big hitter.”

In PERFIDITAS, we see Aurelia, the cool ex-Praetorian, holding the family together after they’d been falsely arrested:

“[Aurelia to Carina] ‘I’ve been through a great deal worse. I’m not a little old lady out of some genteel novel.’

No, she truly wasn’t. She’d been PGSF [Praetorian Guard Special Forces] in her time, even led the attack to retake the city during the civil war. Although now in her mid-seventies, she definitely belonged to the “tough gals” league.

She gave me a close description of the arresting party. What a difference it made when the victim was a trained professional and could give you precise, detailed information. She’d printed off her statement and signed it already.”

 Throughout the first three books, INCEPTIO, PERFIDITAS and SUCCESSIO, we catch glimpses of Aurelia’s early life, but even more, a whole range of questions are thrown up. What did she do in the Great Rebellion nearly twenty-three years before the time of INCEPTIO? Why is she so anxious when she compares the villain in SUCCESSIO to Caius Tellus, the brutal ‘First Consul’ who instigated the rebellion all those years ago? Who was the great love of Aurelia’s life that Carina only learns about in SUCCESSIO?

In AURELIA, the fourth book which takes us back to the late 1960s, Aurelia is accused of murder while on a mission to Berlin, and while in remand undergoes a (hostile) psychological assessment. Here’s the report on her:

Subject is highly rational, quick-minded and a natural leader. She sees nothing is impossible given enough time and resources. Subject has the confident personality and willpower to pursue and implement her goals, easily bringing others with her. A dominant personality.

 Strategic thinker, curious, innovative, able to grasp and deal with problems with determination and precision. Energetic and excellent communication skills, happy to confront and negotiate with others. Intelligent enough to recognise other people’s talents, and work with them. Requires challenges and even failures, or her self-confidence could easily turn into arrogance and condescension.

 Personalities of this type cannot tolerate inefficiency or those whom they perceive as lazy or incompetent. They can be chillingly cold and ruthless when the situation arises, operating purely on logic and rationality.

 They interact very well with others, often charming them to their cause, and paying attention to other people’s feelings – or at least pretending that they do. Most mature and successful personalities of this type are genuine in this aspect to some extent, even though their sensitivity may hide a cold and calculating mind.

 This is a slant on the classic ENTJ personality profile from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a psychometric test system popular in business to indicate psychological preferences about how people perceive the world and make decisions. I needed to make the report negative for the story, but positive aspects of this type of personality are that they are conceptual and global thinkers, able to see connections where others don’t, and to think ahead. Couple this with the intuition and sense of fair play many ENTJs possess, it can make life frustrating for this personality when people around them don’t grasp things the way they do. Of course, this conflict is a gift for a writer…

In essence, Aurelia is a blood-and-bone Roma Novan whose values are based on traditional ancient Roman ones; tough, loyal with a strong sense of duty and fully aware of her responsibilities as head of a great family. But her desire to keep all the balls juggling in the air with precise timing leads to her being riven by guilt if she doesn’t perform a hundred per cent.

Aurelia has one vulnerability, her love for her frail daughter, Marina. This vulnerability, and willingness to sacrifice everything for Marina, is also her greatest strength, along with her determination to serve her country.

Is she sympathetic? Yes, because under all that resolution and toughness, she is still a human being who experiences fear, love, despair and grief. She bitterly misses the strong comradeship of her earlier military career, and is exhilarated when going back into action. And then, there is her devotion to her life-long love, elusive though he sometimes is…

AURELIA is the fourth book in the Roma Nova thriller series,  BRAG Medallion Honoree and currently a finalist in the 2016 Historical Novel Society Indie Award

Watch the AURELIA trailer

Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site

Facebook author page 

Twitter  @alison-morton

Amazon author page

About Alison

AURELIA BRAG MedallionEven before she pulled on her first set of military fatigues, Alison Morton was fascinated by the idea of women soldiers. Brought up by a feminist mother and an ex-military father, it never occurred to her that women couldn’t serve their country in the armed forces. Everybody in her family had done time in uniform and in theatre all over the globe.

So busy in her day job, Alison joined the Territorial Army in a special communications regiment and left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting and exciting things no civilian would ever know or see. Or that she can talk about, even now…

But something else fuels her writing… Fascinated by the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain), at their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation, she started wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women.

Alison holds a bachelor’s degree in French, German and Economics, a masters’ in history. Her memberships include: International Thriller Writers, Historical Novel Society, Alliance of Independent Authors, Society of Authors, Romantic Novelists’ Association. Represented by Blake Friedman Literary Agency for overseas and ancillary rights, Alison lives in France with her husband and writes Roman-themed thrillers with tough heroines.

 

 

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Book Spotlight: Aurelia by Alison Morton

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Publication Date: May 5, 2015 SilverWood Books

Series: Roma Nova, Book Four Genre: Alternative Historical Fiction

Late 1960s Roma Nova, the last Roman colony that has survived into the 21st century. Aurelia Mitela is alone – her partner gone, her child sickly and her mother dead. Forced in her mid-twenties to give up her beloved career as a Praetorian officer, she is struggling to manage an extended family tribe, businesses and senatorial political life.

But her country needs her unique skills. Somebody is smuggling silver – Roma Nova’s lifeblood – on an industrial scale. Sent to Berlin to investigate, she encounters the mysterious and attractive Miklós, a suspected smuggler, and Caius Tellus, a Roma Novan she has despised, and feared, since childhood.

Aurelia suspects that the silver smuggling hides a deeper conspiracy and follows a lead into the Berlin criminal underworld. Barely escaping a trap set by a gang boss intent on terminating her, she realises that her old enemy is at the heart of all her troubles and pursues him back home to Roma Nova…

Available at

Amazon    Barnes & Noble

About the Author

03_Alison Morton_Author

Even before she pulled on her first set of combats, Alison Morton was fascinated by the idea of women soldiers. Brought up by a feminist mother and an ex-military father, it never occurred to her that women couldn’t serve their country in the armed forces. Everybody in her family had done time in uniform and in theatre – regular and reserve Army, RAF, WRNS, WRAF – all over the globe.

So busy in her day job, Alison joined the Territorial Army in a special communications regiment and left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting and exciting things no civilian would ever know or see. Or that she can talk about, even now…

But something else fuels her writing… Fascinated by the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain), at their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women…

Now, she lives in France and writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with tough heroines:

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series

– shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award – B.R.A.G. Medallion – finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year

PERFIDITAS, second in series

B.R.A.G. Medallion – finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year

SUCCESSIO, third in series

– Historical Novel Society’s indie Editor’s Choice for Autumn 2014 – B.R.A.G. Medallion – Editor’s choice, The Bookseller’s inaugural Indie Preview, December 2014

Fact file

Education: BA French, German & Economics, MA History Memberships: International Thriller Writers, Historical Novel Society, Alliance of Independent Authors, Society of Authors Represented by Annette Crossland of A for Authors Literary Agency for subsidiary and foreign rights.

Connect with Alison Morton

Website  Blog  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads  Amazon UK Author Page   Amazon US Author Page

Aurelia Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 11 Tour Kick Off & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, May 12 Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, May 13 Spotlight at Book Nerd

Saturday, May 16 Excerpt & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews

Sunday, May 17 Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Friday, May 22 Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary

Monday, May 25 Review at A Book Geek

Tuesday, May 26 Spotlight at The Lit Bitch

Friday, May 29 Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, June 3 Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Friday, June 5 Spotlight at Layered Pages

04_Aurelia_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

 

Interview Part II: Author Alison Morton

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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…

Perfiditas II

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 blogFacebook 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.

Interview with Author Alison Morton

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Stephanie: Hello Alison! Welcome back and thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on winning for the B.R.A.G Medallion twice! Today, I would like to talk to you about your book that won the first medallion, INCEPTIO. Please tell your audience a little about your story.

Alison: Hi Stephanie. Thank you so such for having me on Authors’ Chat. Yes, I’m delighted to have been twice honoured.

INCEPTIO is an alternate history thriller, the first in the Roma Nova series, which begins when New Yorker Karen Brown, terrified after a kidnap attempt and hunted by a killer, is forced to flee to her mother’s mysterious homeland in Europe – Roma Nova. Founded sixteen hundred years ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women, Roma Nova gives Karen safety – at a price. But the killer has followed her and sets a vicious trap knowing she’ll have no choice but to spring it…

Incepto

Stephanie: Please tell me a little about the mysterious Roma Nova and how you came up with that name.

Alison: ‘Roma Nova’ means ‘New Rome’ in Latin, and this is the language they speak, although it has evolved over the centuries. Roma Nova is a small semi-mountainous country, somewhere between Austria and Italy, high tech, and keeping the traditional Roman values. The founders who wanted to keep the old Roman gods and religion were being persecuted by the Christian Emperor Theodosius, so left Rome in AD 395 and trekked north.

Apulius, leader of the new colony, had married Julia Bacausa, the tough daughter of a Celtic princeling. She came from a society in which, although Romanised for several generations, women in her family made decisions, fought in battles and managed inheritance and property. Their four daughters were amongst the first Roma Nova pioneers so necessarily had to act more decisively than they would have in a traditional urban Roman setting.

Given the unstable, dangerous times in Roma Nova’s first few hundred years, and their fierce desire to survive, eventually the daughters as well as sons had to put on armour and carry weapons to defend their new homeland and way of life. Over the next sixteen centuries women developed leadership roles in all parts of Roma Novan life. You can get the full story here.

Stephanie: What was your inspiration for this book?

Alison: Three things! As an eleven year old 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, maybe it was just a precocious kid asking a smartass question or early onset of feminism. But clever man and senior ‘Roman nut’, my father replied, “What do you think it would be like?” I thought about it for several decades…

The second piece of the jigsaw was reading Robert Harris’ wonderful alternate history, Fatherland that came out in 1992. I hadn’t realized you could project history in a different line.

The third thing that triggered novel writing was a terrible film. The cinematography was good, but the plot dire and narration stop-start.

‘I could do better that that,’ I whispered in the darkened cinema.

‘So why don’t you?’ came my other half’s reply.

Ninety days later, I’d completed the first (very bad) draft of INCEPTIO.

Stephanie: What are Karen Brown’s weaknesses and strengths?

Alison: She’s not particularly happy or unhappy, but gets on with most people around her whether at her regular, boring office job or her weekend volunteer work as a park guide. Both her parents are dead and her cousins uncaring so she’s learned to be self-sufficient, but this makes her lonely, wary and prone to not believing in herself. She’s outdoorsy and enjoys jogging and squash and circuit training, so she’s fit. As terrifying things happen to her, she is surprised to find herself resilient. But Karen has a temper and when she thinks people are being unfair or unkind, that temper comes out for an airing.

Stephanie: What genre does this book fall under and what do you like most about writing in it?

Alison: Primarily, INCEPTIO is a thriller, but there are no dripping body parts or detailed, gratuitous violence. The tension, or suspense, comes more from threats and Karen’s reactions to them. There is an emotional relationship and that weaves in and out the action, but it’s not a romance as such. As the story is set in an alternate timeline, I use “alternate history thriller” which sums up the combination of elements quite neatly.

I enjoy alternate history as it is a sub-genre of history that allows me to expand beyond the normal framework of historical writing. However, I’m firmly convinced you have to know your history before you can alternate it.

Stephanie: How long did it take to write your story and were there any challenges? What research was involved?

Alison: The first (very rough) draft took 90 days and then I started to learn my trade as a novelist! It was only three years later after courses, conferences, writing group, beta readers, full editing, etc. that I felt confident enough to publish INCEPTIO. I have a history and cross-cultural background and have been immersed in the Roman world since childhood, but was never too proud to check and/or research any tiny detail I was worried about. And the military scenes? Well, I spent six years in uniform as a reserve officer…

Stephanie: Writers develop their own writing practice or habit-if you will-that tailors to their own needs. Stephen King writes 2000 words a day and Jack London wrote 1000 to 1500 words each day from what I hear. What is yours? And what helps you get started?

Alison: I aim for 1,000 words a day, with an absolute minimum of 500. I have a back problem, and write in spurts of an hour mixed in with checking the little things that come along when writing. Walking and thinking time and rehearsal-in-the-head time are absolutely necessary before sitting down and writing; it makes your writing time more efficient. I’m often heard muttering characters’ dialogue as I’m gardening or cooking lunch.

Stephanie: Where in your home do you like to write?

Alison: I can show you this! [see photo] We converted part of the basement under our house into an office. A writer must have a properly equipped and comfortable workplace, a dedicated personalised space so that their muse feels inspired to come out to play. More about where I write

Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?

Alison: I discovered it via Layered Pages(!) and shortly after that saw my writing friend Paula Lofting had been awarded the Medallion. Indie/self-publishing needs a high-level quality mark and I’ve been very impressed (and mildly terrified) by the rigourous selection procedure.

Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?

Alison: In many ways! Paperbacks can be ordered through your local bookshop or online and the ebook is available though most online retailers. I’ve compiled a list here of the most popular ones so that readers have a good choice.

Read more about Alison here

Stephanie: Part two of our interview with be held here on March 20th and will include a giveaway.

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Alison Morton, who is the author of, INCEPTIO, 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, INCEPTIO merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.