Good Morning Everyone and happy Friday
Welcome to Inside A Beautiful Mind.
Go grab your coffee, tea or beverage of choice and come sit with me as we take a moment to chat with wonderful Alison Morton.
Good Morning Alison., thank you for wanting to be a part of Inside A Beautiful Mind.and agreeing to hang out with me.
So let’s get right to it, can you tell me a little bit about yourself.
First of all, thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog!
My name’s Alison Morton – my real name – and I’m a British writer living in France. I’ve written six thrillers set in an alternative reality in the imaginary country of Roma Nova.
All my life I’ve been fascinated by Rome, the civilization, and have clambered over many of its remnants! So, of course, I wanted to write a novel with a strong Roman flavour. But in my mind the protagonist was always going to be a woman. This was a problem; women in Ancient Rome didn’t live a public, military or political life. The solution? Bring it up to the 21st century, where a tiny piece of the Roman Empire has survived and its people live with Roman values and culture – Roma Nova. Oh, it’s governed by women.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
RETALIO will be out in Spring 2017. It’s the sixth in the overall series and concludes the second trilogy in the series (AURELIA, INSURRECTIO and RETALIO). Aurelia has fought Caius all her life. Even as children he bullied and attacked her. Now Aurelia is a Praetorian officer and (later) senior councillor to the ruler of Roma Nova while Caius pursues a criminal life with twin aims: to gain power and defeat Aurelia personally. RETALIO is the endgame. But I’ve written each book as a standalone – I can’t bear stories that don’t finish properly!
What inspired you to write your first book?
A bad movie! Although the cinematography was excellent, the dialogue was all chopped up and the story lacked any continuity. I whispered to my husband that I could do better. He replied, “Then why don’t you?”
I’d had the Roma Nova idea bubbling around in the back of my mind for some time but it had stayed there, hiding, until that trip to the movies.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Ah, yes. I served six years in the UK land forces in a special communications regiment, so I have the experience of the military life that my Roma Nova heroines lead.
What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Such a difficult question, if I take all six books into account. I love writing dialogue, especially when the characters are arguing or deducing something. Dialogue reveals aspects of the character, their thought process and attitudes. What they say to each other should drive the story forward as well as reveal motivation. And dialogue makes characters like real, relatable people.
How did you come up with the title?
Like the other titles in the series, RETALIO which means “retaliation” is a single Latin word that reflects the main theme of the book but that resonates with readers today. It’s not easy condensing over 100,000 words into one! But this is the “brand” for the whole series. INCEPTIO means “the beginning”, PERFIDITAS “betrayal”, SUCCESSIO means both “what happened next” and “the next generation”, AURELIA is the heroine’s name, INSURRECTIO means “rebellion”. Some titles have emerged naturally, others have involved hours spent poring over Latin dictionaries. Much more here: http://alison-morton.com/…/how-i-developed-the-roma-nova-t…/
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
My first manuscript assessor gave me “brutal love”, but she was right. The core problem was that I couldn’t decide whether INCEPTIO was going to be a romance or a thriller. I had to rework the whole book and I veered towards thriller. That’s what I market the books as today, but I always mention the love story running through all of them.
The best? Of course, the lovely endorsements from people like Conn Iggulden, Elizabeth Chadwick, Douglas Jackson, Sue Cook, Simon Scarrow, Helen Hollick, Ruth Downie are fantastic, but it’s readers who say the loveliest things: “Carried away by possibly the most dazzling story-telling this author has unleashed to date.” (INSURRECTIO)
Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
Not that I’m aware of. Others may disagree… 😉
What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?
My research ranges from late fourth century transport to modern sniper weapons and old telephone systems to central European field crops like spelt. And then there’s how to mount a coup d’état and cause a run on the silver and metal markets. It’s all strange! Goodness knows what intelligence monitoring agencies would make of my online searches!
Give us an interesting fun fact about your book.
Well, for these books set in the past – AURELIA late 1960s, INSURRECTIO and RETALIO early 1980s – I had great fun learning about early technology like fax machines, video link (no Skype!) and early CCTV using tape, and of course, there were no cell phones!
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I draft an outline of 30 points with the inciting incident, the main turning points, usually three, the “black moment” when everything’s falling apart, the climax, then the resolution. Then I write! More here: http://alisonmortonauthor.com/…/how-to-write-a-novel-in-30…/
Can you tell us about your experiences in getting your first book published?
It took three years of learning; ¬going to conferences, courses, study weeks and classes to learn the ‘trade’ of writing novels and all the time I was writing.
I had many rejections and a good number of full reads. They all praised my writing, but couldn’t place my work in the market, they thought. In the end, I took the assisted publishing route using one of the best, most ethical services, SilverWood Books in the UK.
Now I have a top London agency representing my foreign and ancillary rights who have already sold my first four books to Audible UK (released December 2016). So I’m an independent author with an agent.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
Although I’ve written and translated all my life, I started novel writing in September 2009 and finished the first draft of my first book 90 days later. It was 90,000 words and I didn’t have a clue what to do next!
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I wrote my first story because it was the story I wanted to write; I didn’t know what genre it was. It had a similar structure to Robert Harris’s Fatherland – a thriller set in an alternate reality – but I only discovered later there was a whole genre of it. Now we know all about such alternatives with The Man in the High Castle! However, Roma Nova stories are not dystopian. I place my books first as thrillers (I love action adventure stories, historical thrillers and spy stories), then as alternate history, but with a dash of romance.
Where do you get your ideas?
I wish I knew! I think about my characters and their personalities, then drop them in dreadful situations and watch how they struggle to get out of it. Then I throw them into something worse.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I read so much as a child. Rosemary Sutcliffe’s The Eagle of the Ninth was the first Roman novel I read. I grew up on Jean Plaidy for historicals and Georgette Heyer for romance. Leslie Charteris and Rebecca West for crime and mysteries. Later, John Grisham and Tom Clancy fascinated me. But I veered more and more towards epic authors such as Robert Graves, Frank Yerby and Robert Mitchum.
Currently, I read anything Roman and still enjoy a good spy story.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Bash out your first draft and don’t stop – you can do all the editing later.
What is your favourite quote or saying?
“There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
Tea or coffee?
8r% tea (good and strong), 15% coffee (Colombian or arabica)
Sweet or salty?
85% salty and 15 % sweet as long as it’s chocolate.
Would you like to share with us a passage that will give us a glimpse into the world you built?
Thank you! This is from INCEPTIO, the first book, when our heroine first sees her new home in Roma Nova:
“Travelling from the airport to the house, I was fascinated by the buildings – cream stone with terracotta roof tiles mixed in with tall, much grander blocks. Modern stood alongside older, but somehow it all fit together. I couldn’t tell what most roads signs meant; how could they be so different? Cars looked more stylish and compact than in New York, and surrounded by clouds of bicycles. Shops with wide sidewalks in front, colourful awnings stretching over chairs and tables outside restaurants. People strolled along; some stood in groups talking animatedly; some were buying papers and small stuff from kiosks. They looked pretty much like people anywhere, but darker, neater, more self-contained.
In the centre of the city, we drove past one side of a huge open square, surrounded on the other three sides by a forest of stone columns and grand buildings. My grandmother told me this was the forum, the buildings containing various public offices, including the Senate. The smaller ones were mostly temples. My sense of unreality grew – it was like a movie set from Gladiator with extras going up and down the steps, but in normal twenty- first century clothes.
I shut my eyes for a few moments to attempt processing this.”
Would you mind sharing with us the best way to stay in touch with you and where to learn more about your books?
Roma Nova blogsite: http://alison-morton.com
Alison’s writing blog: http://alisonmortonauthor.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AlisonMortonAuthor/
Twitter: @alison_morton https://twitter.com/alison_morton
Buying link for Alison’s books: (multiple retailers/formats): http://alison-morton.com/books-2/buying-links/
INCEPTIO (Roma Nova 1) book trailer : https://youtu.be/CxOZzf_DA7g
Alright folks, it is that time again but I would like to say a heart felt thank you to Alison Morton for letting us spend some time with her today and see inside her creative process. And a big thank you to all you readers out there for taking a moment to support your Authors.
If you or any of you know of someone who would like a few minutes of limelight on Inside A Beautiful Mind with me, please send me a message.
Enjoy your Friday folks, you are awesome and please remember to be kind to your Authors, leave a review. See you in a couple of weeks, Peace!!