15 September 2021

Author Interview with Heather Robinson, Author of Wall of Stone

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

In AD121 the Twentieth Legion of Rome stands at the northern frontier of Britannia. Forgotten, neglected and dour in spirit, they must still do their duty for an Empire whose meaning is becoming lost to them.

 I'm pleased to welcome author Heather Robinson to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book.

Wall of Stone is set in AD121 on the northern frontier of Britannia and not only covers events that lead to the building of Hadrian's Wall, but also explores some of the different relationships and emotions we experience in life: comradeship, kinship, friendship, love, hate, fear, despair. It's all in there as we follow the fate and fortunes of a few Roman soldiers from the Twentieth Legion as their lives unavoidably intertwine with a local Brigante family. 

What is your preferred writing routine?

Different to my actual writing routine! I prefer to write every day as it is easier to pick up the thread and I can get in to my writing stride quickly. A walk in the morning, writing in the afternoon, and again after dinner in the evening if it's going well. I managed to achieve this during the Covid-19 lockdowns, but apart from that life mostly has other ideas. 

I work part-time on a farm as well as being an author and a certain flexibility of hours is required with this job, meaning I don't open my laptop at all on some days. I have found it helps if I stop my session of writing in mid-sentence. Is that strange? It feels strange when I do it, but helps me latch back in to my thoughts more easily if I miss a couple of days. 

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Loads! And none of it's original, it's all been stolen from successful authors. Bernard Cornwell's website is full of good advice, as is Stephen King's book “On Writing”.

Here are my top five that I keep in mind when I'm writing:

  • Read, read and read, then write what you like to read.
  • The job of an historical fiction author is to entertain, not to give a history lecture.
  • The first draft doesn't have to be perfect, but it does have to be written.
  • Editing is your friend.
  • Finish what you start.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

I'm still learning and improving my skills of marketing. It's my weakest aspect of being an Indie author. So far social media has raised most awareness: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The writing community out there is vast and generous with its support and I've made some great friends as well as raising awareness of my books. We help each other by sharing our strengths. I'm hopeful this Blog Tour will raise awareness further.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research.

Well, I was surprised to learn that intensive crop farming was underway on Salisbury Plain in Roman Britain. Farming in general was still pretty primitive in Britannia at this time. Unusual Romano-British settlements have been found there too, with speculation that the natives may have been used as slaves. 

I wasn't able to find enough information to use this in Wall of Stone but hope to research further in time for the sequel. Finding the Roman name of the area would help, but so far I've drawn a blank on this. Salisbury Plain is the largest remaining area of calcareous grassland in northwest Europe and intrigues me, especially as it's on my doorstep.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

The fighting scenes took some work. I hope I've done them justice. 

What are you planning to write next?

A sequel to Wall of Stone. I'm ready for that now. I tinkered with it last year but a slave girl who escaped the disaster at Pompeii in AD79 was insisting her story be told first. She got her way and Juno's Peacock is published and available to buy on Amazon, so I'm ready to return to the Twentieth Legion in Britannia and see what they're up to. It's like visiting old friends and I'm excited at the plot that is forming. I have a whim to use the characters of Wall of Stone and Juno's Peacock in the sequel...I just need to iron out some difficulties!

Heather Robinson

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About the Author

Heather Robinson is a novelist and short story award winner from Wiltshire, UK. Her academic background includes a Bachelor of Science degree with most of her working life spent as an Administration Manager locally. She is also a qualified and experienced radio presenter, hosting a weekly show for Warminster Community Radio. Proud parents of two boys, Heather and her husband Graham share a passion for live music, hiking and motorcycling. Find out more from her website and follow Heather on Facebook and Twitter @HevRob1

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