Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Scott D. Prill

Scott Prill BRAGI’d like to welcome Scott Douglas Prill today to talk with me about his book, Into the Realm of Time. Scott was born in Iowa and received a M.S. degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Iowa in 1977.  His subsequent career choices have reflected a strong interest in natural resources.  Since graduating, Scott has held positions as a limnologist and environmental consultant.  He also has a M.B.A. and is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager.  For the previous twenty-six years, Scott has been an in-house environmental consultant for the law firm of Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Scott resides in Bayside, Wisconsin, with his wife, Marcie.  He enjoys spending time with their three adult children and writing.  Into the Realm of Time is Scott’s debut novel. 

Hello Scott! Thank you for chatting with me today. How did you discover indieBRAG?

Stephanie – thank you for the opportunity for me to be a part of the indieBRAG interview process.  I am pleased to answer your questions.

I discovered indieBRAG through a work colleague who recommended I submit Into the Realm of Time to indieBRAG for review.   I am pleased I listened to his recommendation.   This is the first book I have written and I am learning about new literary groups such as indieBRAG and Goodreads and the positive ideas such groups offer to independent writers like me.

Into the Realm of TimeTell me about your book, Into the Realm of Time.

The story takes place during 372-375 AD.  The Roman Empire is on the brink of its great decline.  The fierce Roman General Marcus Augustus Valerias contemplates his future.  Though at the peak of his success and power, through victories against both external and internal enemies of Rome, the General is weary of the brutality of continual war and yearns for a different life away from his legions and battlefields.  At the same time, Claire, the widowed queen of a kingdom in Britannia, risks everything to protect her children from a bloodthirsty usurper.  A priest, named Joseph, tries to hide his dark past as he pursues salvation in the Christian faith.  Flavius, a Roman officer who deserted his legion, seeks redemption for the cruel actions he has inflicted on behalf of a corrupt tyrant.

All the while, two Hun brothers, Uldric and Rao, are ruled by their ambitions to ruthlessly establish and expand a Hun empire.  The story of these intertwined destinies unfolds against the backdrop of love, power, greed, religion, valor and sacrifice in this turbulent period.  Fates are not foretold and events lead to a climactic epic battle.  Each character must make choices and it is these crucial decisions that decide their ultimate fates.

Into the Realm of Time is a fictional narrative of timeless personal struggles set against an unsettled Roman Empire.  Christianity had eclipsed paganism as the state religion and Britannia was an orphaned and wild Roman province.  The Huns were emerging and pushing the panicked barbarian Goths into the eastern edge of the Empire.  It is a tumultuous time as Rome tenuously clings to its status as a dominant power – the time of General Marcus Augustus Valerias.

What are the habits of your protagonist(s)?

I’m not sure if the book describes the habits of my characters as much as it does the character’s own qualities.  I consider Into the Realm of Time to have one protagonist and several sub-protagonists and antagonists.

Marcus Augustus Valerias, the main protagonist, is a highly successful military general.  He is the emperors’ enforcer and is counted on to defeat the emperors’ enemies both outside and inside the Empire.  Valerias is strong willed, a brilliant military strategist, and a leader of men.  He never lost a battle.  He demands much of his men, but he maintains a strong bond of loyalty with his legions.

Yet, the military is all he has known in his life.  Thus, even though he won’t admit it, he has doubts about the path he has taken in life and wonders if there is something more than serving in the army.  He yearns for a new life and whatever that life offers.  He retires from the army and searches for a new meaning. He finds that new life but also discovers he cannot leave his past behind him.

Self-image is important in characters, how is this important to your characters? 

Developing the characters within the storyline was my most important aspect in writing Into the Realm of Time.  I wanted to write a book where the characters were not super heroes and super villains; good versus evil.  The main characters have positive characteristics as well as flaws.  General Valerias, for example, is a complicated man.  He is a highly successful Roman General.  He is a brutal man in a brutal time.  Yet he has a strong inner turmoil.  He is searching for contentment and when he finds contentment, he learns it is only a fleeting feeling.  He has never had children and yet children are drawn to him.  Another character, Claire, puts aside her title as queen to save her children from a bloodthirsty usurper.   Joseph, the Christian priest, has much to learn about the meaning of Christianity.

Into the Realm of Time is a book of character development. The interactions of characters with others and events defined their self-images.

What fascinates you most about the Roman Empire?

I have enjoyed watching movies and reading about the Roman Empire since boyhood.    The Robe, Ben Hur, Spartacus and Gladiator and others have influenced my thinking of the Empire.  On the other hand, the information (facts) in books I have read tends to bring the magic of movies to reality.

I think the fact that the Empire lasted several centuries is remarkable.  Although the Western part of the Empire collapsed around 476 AD, the Eastern part lasted almost one thousand more years.  The Empire was a dichotomy: the Empire provided culture, order, law and security for its habitants.  Yet it could be very brutal to outsiders and even its own citizens.  It is interesting to note that Christianity emerged during the Empire.  Several times Christianity and Christians were persecuted by the Romans; however, eventually Christianity became the state religion.

Another item of note is that some historians have referred to the period after the fall of the Western Empire as the Dark Ages.  Thus, despite its shortcomings, the Roman Empire provided a well-defined civilization for hundreds of years.

Describe the Hun Empire.

During the period of 372-375 AD there was little knowledge of the Huns.  The Huns began to appear at this time from the steppes of central Asia. Their appearance westward caused a panic among the Goths who migrated into the eastern part of the Roman Empire. These events form the basis for the historical time frame for Into the Realm of Time.

The story in the book takes place well before the appearance of Attila the Hun by over half a century. In 372 AD the Huns were largely an emerging mystery force.

There were a lot of events happening during this period, did you face any challenges while writing about this?

When I prepared to write Into the Realm of Time, my first decision was to settle on a time frame on which to base the story.  This decision was critical to me.  I wanted to write a story that takes place towards the end of the Western Roman Empire, but not at its very end.   I also wanted the time to be a period of the Empire that was not as well-known as other periods.  I wanted to avoid having anything to do with Attila the Hun and King Arthur as there have been a multitude of books written about these men.  Finally, like most periods towards the end of the Empire, 372-375 AD was a time of turmoil.

What was some of the research you needed to do for the story and what was your process?

I read several books that were based on the fall of the Roman Empire.  Based on the information in these books, I settled on the time of 372 to 375 AD.  The Roman Empire was still formidable and had two emperors.  Christianity was the established religion of the empire.  I also read Gore Vidal’s novel, Julian, to get a feel of the time that was different from the other books I read which were more fact based.

I list my reference sources at the end of the book.

Where can readers buy your book? 

You can purchase the book on Amazon in either hard copy (paperback) or through Kindle.  It is also sold at several bookstores in southern Wisconsin. I sell an occasional book myself, which I sign.  I must also note that the book is at several libraries.  Please check my website for sales/library locations.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on the sequel to Into the Realm of Time.  When I finished Into the Realm of Time, I knew there was more to the story and I wanted to complete the saga.  This will be a two-book series.  The sequel will hopefully be finished within two years – no guarantees!

I enjoy discussing Into the Realm of Time with anyone as that has been part of the “fun” of writing the book.

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Scott Prill who is the author of, Into the Realm of Time, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, 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, Into the Realm of Time, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indiebrag team member

 

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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.