Fiction: EVERY character counts.

An exhibition of Breugel is showing at the Holburne, Bath, the first UK exhibition devoted to the dynasty. Not huge or cheap, but well displayed. The family tree shows the connections between the different artists. Breugel the elder, his two sons, one of Jan’s sons, two of his grandsons.

According to Johnson’s recent article in the Guardian, only Pieter, the elder is worthy of acclaim. The younger, he finds derivative, although his copies of Pieter snr’s work have served us well for centuries.

Things might have been different if the sons had received tuition from their father but sadly he died when they were infants. They were apparently taught by their grandmother. That’s a tale in itself.

Johnson doesn’t rate this, that the Holburne displays proudly:  

For the writer, however, the fascination lies in the characterisation shown in every tiny face appearing in the lively paintings. The Breugels studied and reproduced their local people and events rather than imagined religious ones. Avarice, shame, embarrassment, lust, enjoyment are only some of the emotions portrayed in the works. The faces, movement and expressions take us to a time we couldn’t have summoned up with that accuracy.

Writing a novel, have you made every character notable, memorable, as those in a Breugel painting? Even a walk-on part can illuminate the scene, his character impinging on the plot even if minimally.  It’s a wonderful recommendation if readers comment on the particular characters you have created, superb if they’re recalled some months later.

Breugel characters  are alive in the moment of seeing the paintings. This gives the writer a goal to strive for.

 

REVIEW of IMPACT from Discovering Diamonds

It was good to receive this review of IMPACT, which is Book 3 of my trilogy, A Relative Invasion. The review comes from the Discovering Diamonds website. This site reviews historical fiction exclusively and awards a ‘Diamond’ to successful books.

The reviewer said,

“Impact is the third book in a trilogy about a family torn apart by World War II.

The obvious first question is: should the reader have read the first two books in the trilogy (Intrusion and Infiltration) in order to fully appreciate Impact? My answer would have to be that it is not necessary, but advisable. My enjoyment of Impact was not significantly impaired by not having read the earlier volumes, but I did feel it would have helped to have had a better understanding of what lies behind the hostility between Bill and his cousin Kenneth which is the source of the central conflict in the novel, particularly as this is a good story.

At the start of Impact, Bill and his mother arrive back at their London home as Victory in Europe has been declared. The war in the Far East is still continuing. The women and children have been evacuated to the countryside in order to escape the bombing of England’s capital city (the period covered in the earlier books). The men are serving in the forces.

The book follows Bill’s adolescence in post-war London with its bomb sites and shortages of food and clothing, as he matures from a twelve-year-old boy helping his mother and grandparents, into a teenager about to embark on National Service. But it is his relationship with his older but weaker cousin, Kenneth, that gives unwanted shape to his life, a constant source of simmering resentment.

The style of writing changes subtly as the boys age, the early chapters using language appropriate for a twelve-year-old, such as might be found in one of Enid Blyton’s juvenile mysteries featuring the Famous Five or the Secret Seven. By the time we reach part two, with both boys now in their mid-teens, the language is more mature, though still using expressions in dialogue which, whilst commonplace in that time and place, seem archaic today.

In some ways the relationship between Bill and Kenneth is reminiscent of that between Tom Brown and Flashman in Thomas Hughes’s nineteenth century classic, Tom Brown’s Schooldays. Bill is the quiet, hard-working, kind and athletic, rather than intellectual, character, whilst Kenneth is the academically gifted bully. The characters are so well drawn that, as with Hughes’s novel, it is not impossible to feel some sympathy for both.

There are other parallels: Hughes’s novel is deeply revealing of Victorian attitudes to society and class; Ms Minett’s, similarly, exposes the snobbery and contempt for the labouring classes that existed among the suburban middle classes in 1940s Britain. The well drawn period details provide a believably realistic context for the development of both plot and character. Although I did spot one error regarding the radio show Round the Horn, which was in fact, first broadcast later than this novel depicts.

The story progresses steadily towards the shocking climax of Part One which drives the reader to  continue reading into Part Two in order to discover the consequence for both boys.

(It would have provided spoilers if the reviewer had said more about Part Two and I appreciate that he avoided this).

He concludes: “Impact provides a reminder for my generation (I was born in 1941) of how different life was in those distant, mid-twentieth century, days. For younger readers it offers valuable insights into the hardships and sacrifices their grandparents made in order to create the many social and educational advantages they enjoy.”

(I do think that adolescents would be shocked by what ‘austerity’ felt like in the 1940s, particularly the restricted diet!)

Writers, do you beautify your main character?


Prince Albert – Winterhalter

The recent TV production, VICTORIA, enchanted viewers in the first three episodes thanks to the girlish, if skittish character of Jenna Coleman’s princess. The appearance of the awkward and distant Albert added drama, if not as much attraction, as riveting Rufus Sewell, Lord Melbourne.

I discovered that the ridiculous hair style of Albert was no TV concoction when I visited the Chateau de Compiégne, Picardy.  There the wonderful portraits of Franz Xavier Winterhalter (known for his true-to-life painting) formed a special exhibition.

Winterhalter became one of the royal pair’s  favourite painters. It seems that Victoria praised his truthful representations, so we must accept that her own portrait is as she was, with bulging pale blue eyes, plump arms and stocky little body even in her youth. Whereas Tom Hughes is near to a spitting image of Albert, Jenna Coleman’s Victoria is very much beautified.

It may be that the scriptwriters came closer to the couples’ personalities. After all, clashes between two strong spirits is the stuff of drama. If one were portrayed as wholly sweet and cooperative, the series would fall a long way short. In my own case, I preferred the image I had concocted from history books to Tom Hughes, but sadly his lisping portrayal of the penniless prince was probably near the truth.

Have you written a character close to truth of someone you’ve actually known, while another you’ve deliberately beautified? Readers are left unsatisfied when excuses are made for the protagonist with unblemished features and unstained character, whereas the antagonist’s redeeming elements are ignored. Such black/white characters are termed ‘cardboard’. It’s surely the shades of grey that grip a reader, so don’t beautify your characters.

History is far more interested in what Victoria really looked like, not how beautiful a painter could make her. The same is true of writing.

New book on the block: WWII trilogy

 New book in the Relative Invasion trilogy: IMPACT

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Post-war, the fall-out. Book 3 of the trilogy: IMPACT is now available on all e-book platforms.   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N759C1Q

https://books2read.com/r/B-A-IJPB-ZGSL 

and in paperback,  from Amazon and bookshops.

The new book is much longer than Book 1 and Book 2, bringing the two boys painfully to adulthood.

Bill’s trials with his cousin, the manipulative Kenneth, continue in adolescence. Kenneth seems determined to grasp every important possession and relationship in Bill’s life. Their rivalry reaches a climax that is bound to be explosive. 

This is the layout of the three books:

1937-1940. In Book One, INTRUSION, five-year-old Billy Wilson is introduced to his frail, artistic and manipulative cousin, Kenneth. Against the background of impending war, Kenneth begins his invasion into Billy’s life and the rivalry begins.

1940-1945. Book Two, INFILTRATION, finds the two boys evacuated to the country. Billy finds nurture in his foster home that has been missing with his own parents, and begins to develop strengths of his own. Then a family tragedy enables Kenneth to invade Billy’s life wherever he is. The event will bring changes for both boys that are permanent.

1945-1951. Book Three, IMPACT.  In July, with the VE Day celebrations fading in memory, Bill is torn from the foster home he loves to return home. Reluctantly he faces a dirty and destroyed London in company with Uncle Ted, who is home from the war safe, but so odd and uncommunicative. Bill must share his Wandsworth home with manipulative cousin, Kenneth. The adolescent boys’ rivalry intensifies as Kenneth intrudes further, insinuating himself into relationships, toying with his friendships and betraying his secrets. A drama is inevitable. Can Bill deal with the dreadful fall-out?

1936_austin_seven
Uncle Ted drives the family home in an Austin Eight.
demobhero
Bill’s father and uncle have no hero’s return like this.

IMPACT should appeal to all those who have made a fatal mistake and must live with the consequences.

PLEASE DO REVIEW ON AMAZON AND GOODREADS.    Thank you.

The detail in writing fiction

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Jonathan Wolstenholme “The Collector” 2005

It is often the tiny detail that remains in the reader’s mind and catapults him into the imaginary world the writer tries to create.

I’ve used Jonathan Wolstenholme‘s painting to portray a focus on detail. Minute detail is the interest in another post featuring cross-fertilization.

The collector uses detail to identify his butterfly, the artist and dancer attend to detail to create a new perception or meaning, and the writer can produce significance and emotion through tiny touches of detail.

It was while watching the DVD of Room on the Broom with little people that this post suggested itself. In the delightful children’s book, a dog, a cat, a bird, a frog in turn ask for a place on the witch’s broom in return for finding her lost items. But the DVD adds a layer to the original. After the cat is installed, it suffers jealousy when the witch takes on new passengers. All this is conveyed silently, by a raised eyebrow or a turned-down mouth, the invention of the animator. The book is satisfying enough to the child (theme: one good turn deserves another) but with the added detail of the cat’s facial expressions, the child’s own difficulty in sharing or accepting a new sibling, is illustrated safely. An added layer is given to the story.

In an expensive perfume, it may be one drop of a rare plant essence that makes it unforgettable (perhaps irresistable).

Shaun Tan’s The Arrival,  a flowing wordless narrative about emigration, is chockful of meaningful detail. One example: leaving his country, the emigrant says goodbye to his loved ones. Tan portrays this by a close-up of the hands clasped, the next when loosened, then the fingers leaving those of the others; a tremendously evocative set of images. This is detail that resonates with the reader. Another graphic artist might have left it to the hug or sad face.

pavlovaTurning to dance,  the delicacy of Pavlova’s left arm makes this pose arresting.

true blood

The drop of blood changes perceptions and significance in this book cover for True Blood.

In textual works, small detail can hit the heart-strings. I’ve tried to do this in Intrusion (Book 1 of A Relative Invasion). Seven-year-old Billy is on the station platform without his parents. As other evacuees are hugged goodbye, a wind from the oncoming train lifts Billy’s name tag against his face, and lets it fall again. (A moment of hope that the exodus won’t happen, thwarted.)

Kate Atkinson’s heroine in One Good Turn breaks an established routine of breakfast by eating the remains of a packet of chocolate digestives with her coffee, and on the peach sofa in the living room. This little detail implies rebellion against her absent house-proud husband.

When in Brick Lane, Nazneem, poor, in an East End flat, gives money for a charity that has touched her lover’s emotions, she gets it from a tupperware box under the sink, a telling detail.

I’ve been arbitrary in my choice of examples. Many writers boost the crises in their plot , but it’s these little details that can give satisfaction during and after the read. This often doesn’t happen with a wholly plot driven novel.

It’s like the difference between eating a large pizza, and a meat and two veg  meal. We may feel full initially but the protein makes the sense of satisfaction lasts so much longer.

Intrusion and Infiltration. Impact out in summer 2016.

ARItrio

Translated fiction. Peru: a little-known aspect.

Review of Malambo by Lucía Charún-Illescas,

published by Swan Isle Press

rinconPeru

The Rimac river, Peru.

It is always a pleasure to hold a book with an artistic dustcover, printed on quality paper. Further, there has been insufficient translation of Latin American works into English and I admire the initiative of non-profit presses such as Swan Isle Press.

I was eager to read ‘Malambo’ because of the unusual setting of Peru in the late sixteenth/early seventeenth century. The author, an historian,  has written her first novel about a little-known theme, the way of life of those affected by the slavery, rife at that time.

Peru was central to the Spanish Inquisition. Slaves from Africa, the mainland and indigenous minority groups suffered horrific treatment. Those who survived the brutality of their treatment were priced according to their health and strength. Those ‘freed’ often found themselves in a worse position. This novel shows how slaves might save up earnings or win favours from owners to buy their freedom or that of their kin, creating families with both enslaved and free, skilled and unskilled, rural and urban folk.

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  Within the social hierarchy of the slave stratum, the black artisans had the highest rank due to their skills. They worked as carpenters, tailors, blacksmiths, swordsmiths and silversmiths. This group enjoyed more freedom than their fellows who worked at large haciendas or in private households. Spanish small-business keepers would dispatch servant-artisans to carry out a job independently and then return to their owner.  Skilled black artisans sometimes took a role of a low-ranking employee for their trades were a major avenue of social progress.

Illescas’ novel is populated with characters from different walks of life, but the main focus is upon those of African descent. An atmospheric opening reveals the significance of the river Rimac, both as a character in its own right, and in the way it divided rich from poor residences in the area. The opening introduces the best drawn character, Tomason, an ancient painter of high repute who has escaped his master yet is still bound to him at a distance. Initially he is found jut finising a work with inadequate tools to keep the master satisfied.

Thereupon, the first half of the novel’s number of characters and frequent changes of tense make for a taxing read. It is as though the people and events wash up against each other in waves, like flotsam in the river when it rises.  Early on, a missing father is found dead in it. He has briefly left his daughter, Pancha, with Tomason but when he is lost, Tomason uncomplainingly rears the girl like an honorary grandfather.

As a reference to magical thinking and the whispering myths from the culture of origin, the river gives gossip, it is listened to for information.

The many characters are used to display the fusion of races and cultures in Lima: Jews,  Christians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Creoles, negroes, mestizos and mulattoes. If a character has need there is the possibility of  ‘disappearing’ amongst negroes in Lima, who were equal in number to Peruvians. We are shown those individuals who prosper, often illegitimately, as well as those who suffer. The interchanges between individuals reflect the daily experience of servitude, abuse, diligence and deviance.

The elderly painter lives in squalor and hardship, yet retains his power and dignity.  A religious painting is awaited from him. He makes his master wait. More eagerly, he decorates the walls of his cave-like home in coal, a medium he knows will fade with time, like himself. We see that his illustrations record events, experiences, beliefs, truths. As time goes on, the painter becomes increasingly focussed on the dust in the air, how it lies around him, how the sun shines through it.

In the novel’s second half, there is more flow and pace.  The events show the difficulties, brutalities and social spirit that mark the characters’ lives.  A four poster bed is one character’s heritage, her only possession. Its removal by officers is on the basis that it is forbidden for a negro to sleep on a bed. The bed travels around town its resting place dependent upon the fortunes of its owner, its ‘acceptance’.

The reader is shown the branding sheds and methods of torture, the horrendous way in which slaves are transported and kept. A skilled negro silversmith is mistakenly believed to be a thief and is murdered in the most brutal manner.  The perpetrator is subsequently told, calmly,  that he did a bad thing.  He recognises this without apparent upset. An innocent traveller, seeking only to record the places and peoples he finds, is drugged and branded on the face. He refuses to blame the perpetrators, victims of slavery and the awful branding sheds. The female married slave forced to regularly sleep with her master is beaten into disability to appease the master’s wife, but continues to work and sleep as required. Illescu relates all such very violent events unemotionally. It is as though such acts were so commonplace that they are passively accepted if not condoned. And so the negroes submitted to their fate.

When the innocent traveller is lost, he is told the land lies between the river on one side and the mountain on the other.  Malambo is that place, between two potential powers, conveniently near to Lima but far enough for secrets to be held there. Power lies on one side of the Rincon, hardship on the other.

Along the river’s path, Pancha seeks the truth of her father’s death.  Her first foray from Malambo is described like a coming of age. Tomason wonders if the travelling bed will find acceptance. Pancha’s ‘finding her path home’ after her search is also used symbolically, and will end in marriage.

There are passages that have beauty and spark associations in the reader’s mind, such as the intrusion of myth, mostly Yorumba, the main character’s homeland.

As for criticism, I found the dialogue jerky and no guide to characterisation. One character spoke much like another, giving background and essential information in an artificial manner. The dialogue did not convince or lift the narrative. The manner of changing tense within the same paragraph did disconcert me and I was conscious of a struggle between my reading of the author’s intent and the translation of it. The reader needs to know if s/he is ‘in the moment’ or looking back upon it.

It is always important to hold separate the skill of the writer from that of the translator. I believe that when a novel is translated, it should represent the strength of the description such that the reader’s ignorance of the original language is not a problem. I was not sure that the translator managed this task. There were several instances of inelegance: a discrete/discreet confusion, ‘wind’ as a verb and as a noun in the same sentence obliterating the meaning, and occasional sentence construction that did not reflect naturalistic English.

In conclusion, I would recommend this novel because of its insight into a world little-known and the importance of recognising the African heritage within Peru. However, Illescas is more a historian than a novelist. If this story had been told from the point of view of Tomason, or even alternating between him and Altagracia, the injured woman, the reader would have had more emotional investment in the tale. As it stands, the work is of more historical than literary importance, but an interesting read for all that.

In December 2013 the Huffington Post presented an article about the inequalities in obtaining clean water in Peru. It seems that your fate and fortune is determined by the side of the river you come from.

s-PERU-RIMAC-RIVER-large

Local residents of the shantytown (characterised as Malambo in the novel) pay 3.22 dollars per cubic metre of water, compared to just 45 cents paid by those a few blocks away in Rinconada del Lago, one of Lima’s most exclusive neighborhoods.

Historical trilogy


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If you like to read historical fiction, especially set in WWII:-

INFILTRATION is the second in the trilogy, A Relative Invasion. It begins in the blitz, September 1940 where Billy, my sturdy, well-meaning main character, is arriving at his new billet in the country, delivered by horse and cart.

When Book One ended, Billy, had just been evacuated for the second time – but this time sinister Cousin Kenneth, is evacuated too. To Billy’s dismay, he finds that Kenneth will be billeted with Aunty right near to Billy’s mother and baby sister, while Billy will be some miles off. As Book Two starts, Billy is mustering all his bravery to enter another unknown home, but this time, not to poverty.

Adaptations, anxieties and adventures lie ahead. Infiltration is a story of boy rivals evacuated to the country. More than that, it explores the resilience of children sent away for a large proportion of their childhood, often five full years. Some of them were miserable the whole time, others bonded more with their foster parents than with their own . . .

entrainedEvac

 

My two boy characters must grow towards their teens developing their different talents, and, crucially, their fateful rivalry in an environment very different to the one they were born into, while their mothers also struggle to adapt to unfamiliar circumstances where they are distinctly not at home.

I’m happy to report that Book One,  INTRUSION, has just been awarded a B.R.A.G medallionbrag-med-gold

INFILTRATION is 5* on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

IMPACT – post-war London, and the fall-out of war and rivalry

Both books available in paperback and on ebook platforms

Intrusion:     ebooks  Kindle

Infiltration: ebooks   Kindle

Impact:         ebooks    Kindle

Review of Intrusion

41v76HCQIAL._AA160_0.99 promotion for 3 days.

Isn’t it reinforcing when you get a positive and thorough review?

Praise on its own doesn’t inform what was liked and why. I think readers or potential readers prefer a review that gives a sense of how they might feel when reading the book in question. Which character will they sympathise with, which will make their hackles rise?

Here’s one for Intrusion from last July that I quote because of the reviewer’s reaction to Billy’s manipulative cousin, Kenneth. I’m afraid I’m just writing some more examples of his irritating behaviour for Book 3. In many ways we should sympathise with him, but there comes a point when he just goes a bit too far. . .

patience

 

Meantime, Intrusion, is on offer for 3 days at 0.99

Charmaine
Jun 17, 2015  5*

Charmaine rated it really liked it · review of another edition
Shelves: historical-fiction, kindle
“Rosalind Minett does an excellent job portraying the early stages of World War II through the eyes of a child. I liked seeing events through Billy’s viewpoint. We never quite get the full picture of the events of the war because Billy’s understanding is limited, but at the start of each chapter Minett lists the date and an important WWII event that is associated with that date, which keeps the reader grounded. Billy’s experiences with the air raid and the evacuation gave a sense of realism to the story.

Besides the historical accuracy, I liked how the author made me feel certain emotions about the characters. I really disliked Kenneth. I also felt annoyance with most of the adults who did not understand Billy, including his own parents. I sympathized with Billy and cheered for him all the way. Billy underwent some character development and I look forward to seeing his growth throughout the series.

(The author gave me a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)”

Alternative history. Is it fiction?

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The Roman Empire active, 2016? Alternative history in fiction

Today’s post features a very successful independent author of historical fiction in an imagined scenario. ALISON MORTON, is the author of INCEPTIO, PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO and AURELIA, B.R.A.G. Medallion® honorees. Her premise for her ROMA NOVA series is: Suppose the Roman Empire never died? This idea has fascinated her readers,leading them into this world of alternative history.

Alison has had a recent fillip to her success. As an independent author and member of ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) she has become an inspiring forerunner of what is to become; that is, the possibility for real commercial success, not through any gimmick or useful network of associates, but by sheer hard work, talent, thorough knowledge of her subject and an inspired theme.

I wanted to interview her so that other authors could gain some sense of her literary path.

ROSALIND
Alison, the warmest of welcomes. Please tell us about this latest, exciting success.

ALISON
Thank you for the welcome, Rosalind. Yes, it’s all very exciting. I’ve signed with Blake Friedmann Literary Agency who will be representing me for translation, audio and other ancillary rights. With all the other things I have to do, like writing books(!), I don’t have the time (or energy) to pursue these areas. Carole Blake and her team have exactly the experience, expertise and contacts to exploit these rights properly for me. Carole read INCEPTIO and was bitten by the whole Roma Nova idea.

Alison Morton with Carole Blake_opt

ROSALIND
To have Carole Blake representing you is the acme of success in itself. How exciting to know that your books will be enjoyed in different countries and in different forms. Can you predict the outcome of this widening of your reading audience? Perhaps your agents have suggested one?

ALISON
I can’t predict really, but from meeting my new agents(!), there are numerous possibilities. I’m hoping for audio and some translation deals this year, but I’m leaving that to the experts. Once readers discover the Roma Nova books, they seem to love them, so my aim is to widen the audience. I’m confident that the Romans are on the march to conquer the known world in the 21st century.

ROSALIND
That’s a wonderful 2016 ahead of you. What will it mean to you in practical terms?

ALISON
Lots more book sales! Being serious for a moment, Book 5 in the series has gone to my copy editor and I’ve drafted about 36,000 words of Book 6. I hope therefore to be able to offer new readers two more books this year which will then give them two Roma Nova trilogies. As a reader, I like series, so when I discover a new author who has written one, I’m in heaven.

If translation deals appear, that may mean more travel to give talks which I LOVE doing, and an increase in my profile. Of course, I’m waiting for Hollywood to knock at my door…

ROSALIND
Enviable! However, this success was not won overnight and it’s important for readers of this interview how much really came before. I know, for instance, that you have a military background. Do you think this training enabled you to plan an effective strategy?

ALISON
I’m not sure I had a strong strategic plan. As you learn your way around any profession, you discover the ins and outs and the players and influencers, you make friendships, you collaborate on promotion, you secure speaking and blogging spots. You monitor your own progress and amend your wishes, aims and goals accordingly.

Serving in the military does give you the purpose and the self-discipline to carry out plans. But I’d been in a government policy unit before then and also read an awful lot of crime and thriller novels, so I’m a plotter by habit. Also, to be truthful, by nature. It ties in with the whole ‘what if’ idea behind the Roma Nova books; you have to think everything through to see the possible consequences.

ROSALIND
Can you outline for readers the steps upon the way to your success? I note that Book 1 is a precursor of the following books in the series. Did you intend it to be a stand-alone originally, the further books emerging as you got immersed in the alternate world of Roma Nova?

ALISON
Well, the first one, INCEPTIO, burst out of my head after seeing a rubbishy film in 2009. I thought I must be able to do better. I’d had my strong character (Karen who became Carina) rampaging around in my head for years, so I plonked myself down in front of my computer and poured her story out.

ROSALIND
This strong female character did interest me, this blog being developed around character-driven fiction. Even though you are a plotter, Carina has been a factor in your success. And what about the professional steps toward publication?

ALISON
I’d written much of my life: translation, government policy papers and reports, academic papers, marketing and PR materials, but hadn’t written fiction since I was at school. I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association which had a new writers’ scheme, read books, went on an Arvon Foundation commercial fiction course, attended conferences, talks and classes. IRoma Nova books_sm_opt put INCEPTIO through critique partner, beta readers, professional editors – you name it – in my drive for perfection.

As I wrote INCEPTIO, I realised I was going to have to write a trilogy; there was just too much story to contain in one book! More seriously, I wanted to find out what had happened to Carina a few years on. Book 2, PERFIDITAS, was half written by the time I (eventually) published INCEPTIO in March 2013, and I had the character development for Book 3, SUCCESSIO, in my head. Thus, although each book is a complete standalone, readers will a gain a richer experience if read one after another.

So that was the trilogy done and dusted, but I had become fascinated by Aurelia, who was a main secondary character in Carina’s story. She was Carina’s grandmother, but as a young woman had lived through a dangerous time in Roma Nova’s history, the Great Rebellion. Aurelia was still haunted by the charismatic rebellion leader, Caius Tellus, thirty years later. So of course, I had to write her story and this has developed into a second trilogy.

ROSALIND
You’ve certainly undertaken the whole process in a manner that writing and publishing professionals would admire. You have been so thorough and well organised in your approach. Finally, coming to the last stage – publication itself. I have seen several books published by SilverWood Books. They always have such good presentation: good quality paper, attractive lay-out, and a sense that the concept is geared to the particular book rather than pushed out in a set format aimed at speed of turnover. How did you come to SilverWood and what difference has it made?

ALISON
I was determined to publish my novels and to publish them with the highest possible production values. Once I decided I needed help, I researched the whole thing to death, asking other indies, reading articles and posts, searching and searching. Mick Rooney of The Independent Publishing Magazine was especially helpful.

A publishing services company has to make money – they’re in business – but I wanted one with a book-oriented approach, rather than a services one, and an organisation run by caring human beings. In the end, I compiled a huge spreadsheet of questions about prices, services, rights, timings, and processes then narrowed the ‘finalists’ down to three. After a long telephone call to each, I chose SilverWood Books.

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AURELIA shortlisted for the 2016 Historical Novel Society Indie Award

ROSALIND

Thank you so much, Alison. I think there will be many writers wanting to follow your path. However, the concept, knowledge and research your books entail, as well as the whole marketing process, will perhaps daunt them. Do you have any final words of encouragement?

ALISON
Persist! 
- Write stories you are passionate about 

‘Good enough’ is not good enough – Listen to advice and don’t be precious.

Be nice.