Mar 012013

What have the Romans ever done for us… oh okay, not that old joke! But now it seems they have provided the inspiration for Alison Morton’s debut novel Inceptio.

Alison with her book Alison with copies of Inceptio.

Although I’m a prehistorian I have a soft spot for the Romano-British. They weren’t ‘real’ Romans but our own version of Romans, Britons with a Roman twist! So I was interested to find out about Alison’s alternate history version of ‘real’ Romans and I asked her to tell me about Inceptio.

“Alternate history is based on the idea of “what if”? What if King Harold had won the Battle of Hastings or if Julius Caesar hadn’t been murdered on the Ides of March? The rest of history from that point on takes a different course from the one we know. In my book, Roma Nova, originally a small colony somewhere north of Italy, has evolved into a high tech, financial mini-state which has retained and developed Roman Republican values, but with a twist.”

Sounds fascinating, now give us a taste of Inceptio…

Inceptio cover

“New York – present day, alternate reality. Karen Brown, angry and frightened after surviving a kidnap attempt, has a harsh choice – be eliminated by government enforcer Jeffery Renschman or flee to the mysterious Roma Nova in Europe. Founded sixteen centuries ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women Roma Nova gives Karen safety, a ready-made family and a new career. But Renschman reaches into her new home and nearly kills her. Recovering, she is desperate to find out why he is hunting her. Unable to rely on anyone else she undergoes intensive training, developing fighting skills and becoming an undercover cop. But crazy with bitterness at his past failures Renschman sets a trap for her – knowing she has no choice but to spring it…”

It sounds a gripping read Alison, I really hope the book launch is a success and your writing career takes off.

You can find INCEPTIO and read an excerpt on Amazon UK and on Amazon US

Read more about Alison, Inceptio, alternate history and writing on and of course chat with her on Twitter @alison_morton which is where we met.

 Posted by at 3:45 am
Jun 012012
Door poster of event

Waterstones advertise Liz's book signing

It was hotter than Dubai and I was surrounded by Cornish pasties, good wine and excellent company. So where exactly did I find myself last Thursday evening? It could only be the Waterstones London book launch of Liz Fenwick’s debut novel The Cornish House.

The assembled company had travelled from the four corners of the globe to be there and their journeys started me thinking. Journeys are the meat and drink of writing. Good writers compel their readers to keep travelling however challenging the journey and wherever the final destination may lead.

The writer’s own journey can be equally surprising and every bit as unanticipated as the reader’s. The road from the first spark of an idea to publication can throw up twists and turns that we simply never expected. Take Liz for instance: she was born and brought up in Massachusetts and lives in Dubai. But the place she fell in love with and that is the beating heart of her writing is Cornwall.

Place is not just a back-drop but every bit as much a central character in the Cornish House as is Maddie the book’s protagonist. At the launch Liz shared an extract of Maddie’s early morning encounter with her newly inherited house with us.

Liz reads from her book

Reading to us from her book

It contained a sentence that gets to the heart of what makes the Cornish House a compelling read, ‘She closed her eyes and searched her memory.’ It’s the ability to draw upon memory and to create a world that pulls the reader in to share the journey, that is central to both what I love reading and what I write. For me the springboard and inspiration for my writing is Wiltshire. Here whether you’re standing on the sweeping slopes of the Marlborough Downs, the great expanse of Salisbury Plain or exploring the magical ‘lost world’ of the Vale of Pewsey, the present butts up against the past wherever you turn. And so it is for Liz Fenwick with Cornwall. In the Cornish House place and the past intertwine to take both Maddie and the reader on an unforeseen journey.

So join me if you will in raising a glass, and a pasty, to congratulate Liz on the start of what looks set fair to be a long, successful and thoroughly satisfying writing journey.

Liz signing my book

Liz signing my copy of her book.

 Posted by at 5:17 pm

The Devil’s Feather

 Book review  Comments Off on The Devil’s Feather
Feb 082010

The Devil's Feather book cover

The Devil’s Feather by Minette Walters
Like virtually every other right-minded lover of crime fiction I’m a fan of Minette Walters, but until recently The Devil’s Feather had escaped my attention. In the Devil’s Feather Walters goes global in a tale that transports us from war ravaged Sierra Leone via post-Saddam Iraq to deepest Dorset.

Journalist Connie Burns is working in Sierra Leone when her suspicions are aroused that the perpetrators of a series of rapes and murders are not, as the authorities claim, three young rebel soldiers but the British bodyguard of a diamond trader. When she encounters the same man in Iraq two years later using another name and attempts to expose him he takes a brutal and harrowing revenge that leaves her terrified and psychologically crushed.

Retreating to the refuge of a dilapidated Dorset farmhouse she befriends the solitary and misunderstood Jess Derbyshire, a strong-minded young woman who, like Connie, has secrets she’s not willing to reveal. Taking her inspiration from her new friend she refuses to be cowed by her experience. But what starts as a long-distance pursuit of her tormentor ends terrifyingly close to home and draws the two women together to share one last secret.

So what makes Walters so good at what she does? Well no-one could accuse her of writing ‘cosy’ crime. This is a book that faces up to real issues while managing to avoid the trap of preaching to the reader. And one of the things I most admire about her is her ability to draw convincing characters in her depictions of modern rural Britain without resorting to stereotype: a skill that is very evident in this book. But I’m an old fashioned girl at heart and the thing I enjoy most in my crime fiction reading is the challenge of solving a well constructed mystery and that Walters’ plots never fail to deliver.

It’s difficult to become bored with Walters’ books. She famously doesn’t use series characters, writing each book as a stand-alone. I’ll certainly be adding her other titles that I haven’t read to my ‘To Read’ list And if you missed out on The Devil’s Feather when it was first published don’t leave it too long…

I’m currently reading an Ian Rankin Rebus omnibus…bit of a mistake really, no not the content but the weight of a three-novels-in-one book. Not easy bed-time reading – heavy weight! I’ll let you know what I think though.

 Posted by at 6:21 pm