4 June 2021

Special Guest Post by Alison Morton, Author of the Roma Nova series


INSURRECTIO and RETALIO (ebooks) are currently on offer at between 33% and 50% off the normal price, so instead of £3.99/US$4.99, each one is priced at £1.99/ US$2.99 (Amazon). You can find similar reductions on Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Quick and easy links to your favourite bookshop here:

Is history fixed?

Small and large-scale things happen every day in our own time that could set our lives off on a different course. Each personal decision we make changes the course of our lives from what it might have been. And all of us probably sit down at some stage and wonder "what if I'd done X, or if Y had happened me?"

What if King Harold had won the Battle of Hastings in 1066? Or if Julius Caesar had taken notice of the warning that assassins wanted to murder him on the Ides of March? Or if Elizabeth I of England had married and had children? If Washington hadn’t crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night in 1776?

My Roma Nova thrillers are set in an alternative timeline where a fragment of the Roman Empire battled its way through to the present. Time diverged in the past. AD 395 to be precise, when a small group of Romans saw their empire crumbling and left Italy to seek shelter in the mountains. Their decision seemed small scale, but the effect was to change their world.

Some readers had told me they enjoy the Roma Nova stories purely as thrillers. Others have enjoyed the 'women running things' aspect or the way that Roman history has gone off in a different direction.

Alternative history fiction has three short rules, or conventions:

• the timeline split at a defined moment which is in the past – the point of divergence (PoD)

• the new timeline follows a different path forever – there is no going back.(This is not time travel!)

• stories should show the ramifications of the divergence and how the new reality functions.

But the story must be strong in itself and not just rely on the 'oo-ah factor' of the different timeline. And I believe the characters should be well-rounded, human and 'normal'. As readers, we must be able to cheer for them when things go well and commiserate with them when it all goes wrong as it often does for Carina and Aurelia in Roma Nova.

Aurelia’s stories in the series – AURELIA, NEXUS, INSURRECTIO and RETALIO – are set between the (alternative) 1960s to early 1980s and see the rivalry between Aurelia Mitela and Caius Tellus intensify and become lethal.

She comes from one of the Twelve Families which helped found Roma Nova at the end of the fourth century, so she has a lot of history supporting her. In her younger career, she was an effective successful Praetorian officer, diplomat and later intelligence agent – a spy. She becomes a senator, businesswoman and advisor to Imperatrix Silvia, Roma Nova’s ruler.

Caius, on the other hand, has tried to bully Aurelia all her life. Given every privilege by his mother and grandmother, Caius has never to struggle for anything. Strong willed and intelligent, he dominated his circle and charmed older adults with his good looks and broad smiles. He has no idea of anybody else’s interest but his own.

But the chief failing that gnaws away at him is that he could never break Aurelia’s shell, either with charm or by force. He resents that she can see through him. He takes it very personally…

Caius makes a power grab in INSURRECTIO and imposes a tyrannical regime – a traditionally Roman way of acceding to power. Not that it has happened that much in fifteen centuries in this new Rome’s existence! (I used the coming to power and the regime in 1930s Germany as inspiration for much of this.) RETALIO recounts the fierce determination of Aurelia and the loyal Roma Novans to resist and combat the tyranny. (You may see parallels with 1940s resistance in this story.)

Alison Morton

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About the Author

Alison writes award-winning thrillers series featuring tough, but compassionate heroines. She blends her deep love of France with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical, adventure and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history. Now Alison continues to write thrillers and drink wine in France with her husband. Find out more at Alison's website  https://alison-morton.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter @alison_morton

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