‘The second fall of Rome?’
Aurelia Mitela, ex-Praetorian and imperial councillor in early 1980s Roma Nova, scoffs at her intelligence chief when he throws a red file on her desk. But it may already be too late to save Roma Nova from meltdown and herself from entrapment and destruction by her lifelong enemy.…
“INSURRECTIO - a taut, fast-paced thriller and I enjoyed it enormously. Rome, guns and rebellion. Darkly gripping stuff.” – Conn Iggulden
Why are we so fascinated by Rome?
It can’t just be that we loved Ben Hur, I Claudius or Gladiator at the cinema or that we can’t keep away from Lindsey Davis’s Falco, Simon Scarrow’s Macro and Cato or Conn Iggulden’s Empire series. Do we find manly Roman handshakes or calls to defend the eagle stirring or just a bit too Hollywood? Viewing figures for Up Pompeii and Plebs were consistent and HBO’s Rome kept us glued to our screens.
I confess, I am not immune to the draw of this militarised, complex and aspirational society that lasted 1,229 years, conquered much of the known world and reached cultural, legal and engineering heights not seen again until the Renaissance and a trading flair that didn’t see the same expression for most Europeans until Victorian times.
Of course, we would wish to see a modern Roman society without slavery, unchecked endemic corruption and human blood sports. We’d want to see social protection, opportunity for all and women in a far more prominent role. Yet we’d keep all those things we admire from ancient Rome like the rule of law, civic-mindedness, literature, core values and citizen responsibility, not to mention exploitation of native genius in engineering and technology.
Being a hardcore ‘Roman nut’, I decided to create such a world in my Roma Nova books. You’ll find a lot of familiar Roman elements there but with a switch – women have the prominent role. Yes, the tough Praetorian Guard has female officers and other ranks; the ruler is female as are the heads of leading families.
So how did this happen? The quick answer is survival. In AD 395, three months after Christian emperor Theodosius’s last decree banning all pagan religions, four hundred Romans loyal to the old gods, and so in danger of execution, trekked north out of Italy to a semi-mountainous area similar to modern Slovenia. Led by Senator Apulius, they established a colony based initially on land owned by Apulius’ Celtic father-in-law. By purchase, alliance and conquest, this grew into Roma Nova. The fledging state survived by changing its social structure; as men constantly fought to defend the new colony, women took over the social, political and economic roles.
Ancient Roman attitudes to women were repressive, but towards the later Imperial period women had gained much more freedom to act, trade and own property and to run businesses of all types. Divorce was easy and step and adopted families were commonplace.
Apulius, the new leader of Roma Nova, had married the tough daughter of a Celtic princeling whom he’d met when posted to Noricum as a young officer. She came from a society in which, although Romanised for several generations, women made decisions, fought in battles and managed inheritance and property. Their four daughters were amongst the first pioneers of Roma Nova so necessarily had to act more decisively than they would have in a traditional urban Roman setting.
Given the unstable, dangerous times, eventually daughters as well as sons had to put on armour and carry weapons to defend their new homeland and their way of life. Fighting danger side-by-side with brothers and fathers reinforced women’s status and roles. And they never allowed the incursion of monotheistic paternalistic religions. So I don’t think that it’s too far a stretch for women to have developed leadership roles in all parts of Roma Novan life over the next sixteen centuries. You can read the full story here: http://alison-morton.com/roma-nova/roma-nova-history/
Writing each Roma Nova adventure, I was determined to make the thriller plot stand by itself. The trick is to develop the plot while keeping the essential Roman attitudes and values to the front of the mind, i.e. looking through Roman eyes. But as with any novel, the stories are about people who experience the same concerns as other people whenever and wherever they live.
The first three – INCEPTIO, PERFIDITAS and SUCCESSIO – are set in the present. AURELIA takes us back to the late 1960s where the young Aurelia Mitela, ex-Praetorian and intelligence officer, pursues her nemesis Caius Tellus for silver smuggling and murder. INSURRECTIO continues their antagonistic story, but on a larger political scale that threatens to push Roma Nova into cataclysm.
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About the 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 all over the globe. 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 lives in France and writes Roman-themed thrillers with tough heroines.
Education: BA French, German & Economics, MA History
Memberships: 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
Social media links
Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site: http://alison-morton.com
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AlisonMortonAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alison_morton @alison_morton