The Next Big Thing...

Last Wednesday I was tagged by the marvellous writer Victoria Lamb for The Next Big Thing. This week, it’s my turn to answer the following questions and tag a few other writers in my turn.

What is the title of your next book?

Where did the idea for the book come from?
INCEPTIO is the first of the Roma Nova series set in the present day but in an alternate world, where women rule a European country founded by Romans sixteen centuries before. My heroine, living alone in New York,  doesn’t have a clue about how strong her connection is to the mysterious Roma Nova until she meets a spy in disguise and a government enforcer who kidnaps and tries to kill her. And then it gets personal…

My memory of me as a eleven year old, walking amongst the mosaic floors in Ampurias (Spain), listening to my father explaining about Romans still lives in my mind. I asked him, ‘What would it have been like if women were in charge?’ He stopped and looked at me. ‘Well, what do you think it would have been like?’ And the thought germinated and grew. Very, very slowly.

What genre does your book fall under?
Alternate history thriller

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
A while ago, Meg Ryan and Val Kilmer, with Judi Dench and Alexander Siddig. Today, probably Bryce Dallas Howard and Orlando Bloom, with Meryl Streep and Ben Barnes.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published though SilverWood Books, based in Bristol, a publishing services company. It will be out in early March 2013.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Ninety days, and it was rubbish! I self-edited with the help of my critique partner and did about four runs through. I like to bash the plot out, then refine and layer the story and finally go through it line by line to make each word and sentence earn their keep. Then I seek professional help, as they say…

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I don’t know any other books like the ones I write! Not exactly like them, anyway. First of all, they’re spy thrillers with plenty of action, conspiracy and betrayal. And this first one, INCEPTIO, has a cracking, complex villain. Next, my heroine (mostly) overcomes culture change and evolves into an identity which she realises is a natural fit for her, a world away from her previous unsatisfactory existence. And of course there’s romance and heartbreak. But running through are tough Roman values and the “fight or die” imperative feeding into the “what if?” alternate history.
So, to answer the question, a mix of Lindsey Davis’ Falco series, J.D Robb’s Eve Dallas Death series and Robert Harris’ Fatherland.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
An itch to get the story out there! Bubbling away since I was eleven, the story burst out from the gooey mess beneath during the visit to the cinema when my husband and I were watching a dire film.
‘I could do better that that,’ I whispered in the darkened cinema.
‘So why don’t you?’ came his  reply.
Three months later, I had completed the first draft.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
We seem to have an endless fascination for things Roman, but I didn’t want to write a swords and sandals epic – there’s far too much competition. Nor did I want to impose 21st century values, ideas or roles on to women in Republican, Principate or Dominate Roman societies. There were some remarkable women’s actions and voices recorded, but they are very, very few. So projecting forward to the 21st century where I could have a feminist switch was too tempting to resist. I think that piques!

INCEPTIO will be out on 1 March 2013.

I’d like to tag, in my turn, these writers:

Matt Mitrovich who as well as editing the wonderful Alternate History Weekly Update site, writes and blogs at Matt Mitrovich, Author 

Paula Lofting, author of Sons of the Wolf and blogger at Paula Lofting, Historical Fiction Writer

4 comments to The Next Big Thing…

  • I love the title to your book and I am looking forward to reading it!

    • Alison

      Thank you, Denyse. A sale!
      I haven’t said too much before about my book, but since I announced it was going to be published, I haven’t been able to shut up. 😉

      Being a little quirky by bringing two opposite ideas together, I think the book idea is fresh and that bit different from many standard thrillers. I’m hoping this will let it appeal to a wide range of readers. My beta readers have all liked it, so fingers crossed…

  • Interesting, intriguing blog about your forthcoming novel, Alison. I do believe I am the critique partner!! So looking forward to reading it in its proper book format, and dying to see the cover.

    • Alison

      You are indeed my critique partner! As they say when accepting an Oscar, I wouldn’t be where i was without you.

      Yes, it’s getting a little exciting now…