Ave fabulae breves! (Let's hear it for short stories)

In my previous post, I outlined four good reasons for joining with other writers to produce a book of short stories.

  • an opportunity to stretch your writing muscles
  • fun to join in a project with writing colleagues (new and old)
  • a chance to strut your stuff to their readers and beyond
  • sometimes you make a few bob

My first time was for a collection of speculative stories around that iconic English history event –1066. Nine of us wondered about how things could have gone differently. More here, plus an excerpt about a Roman in a very strange situation…

But today, I’m looking at RUBICON, described by Discovering Diamonds Reviews as “An engrossing mix of style, pace and subject: political, warfare, greed, sacrifice, alternative, mischief, humour…”

How did I become involved?
In early 2019, I was invited to join a writing project organised jointly by the Historical Writers Association and Sharpe Books. In July 2019, the result was a collection of ten fabulous stories of Ancient Rome.

Now, a number of my fellow authors were old friends and their books were already on my bookshelves or my Kindle; total joy to read their familiar characters’ mini adventures. But through this new collection, I discovered new authors and thus new windows into different aspects of the Roman world.

So what’s in Rubicon?
Soldiers, statesmen and spies, not to mention pioneers, palace shenanigans, politics in Britannia, pirates, battles, faith, greed, sacrifice and the lives of ordinary – and extraordinary – Romans, such as Ovid, Marcus Agrippa and a young Julius Caesar, and imaginary ones like Roma Nova’s founders Apulius and Mitelus.

Plus, an exclusive interview with each author – why write and why Rome? Ancient Rome from the Republic through to the dusk of Empire was, of course, always about people who were so different, yet so like us.

Authors & Stories Featured in Rubicon:
Nick Brown – Maker of Gold
Gordon Doherty – Eagles in the Desert
Ruth Downie – Alter Ego
Richard Foreman – A Brief Affair
Alison Morton – Mystery of Victory
Anthony Riches – The Invitation
Antonia Senior – Exiles
Peter Tonkin – The Roman
L.J. Trafford – The Wedding
S.J. Turney – The Praetorian

Where can you buy Rubicon?
Ebook: Amazon UK    Amazon US
Paperback: Amazon UK   Amazon US

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of Mystery of Victory

Rome, AD395


A tall man about forty years, Lucius Apulius, a young senator from an old family, darted forwards to block the soldiers. The centurion drew his sword and thrust it in Apulius’s face. The tip travelled down to touch the skin at the base of Apulius’s throat. The young senator didn’t flinch, but an arm as inflexible as iron barred him going further. His father.

‘Sheath your sword, centurion,’ Apulius senior commanded. ‘The Curia is no place for weapons.’

The soldier snorted. ‘Begging your honour’s pardon,’ he said, ‘but that don’t mean much these days. I take my orders from the Augustus. Stand aside.’

Neither of the Apulii moved. The centurion sheathed his sword and moved away to supervise the legionaries shuffling round them, sweating as they pulled a builder’s handcart up the steps and between the banks of seating towards the altar of Victory.

The statue soared over them, golden, wings outstretched, one leg forward, escaping her wind-caught robe, her feet barely touching the globe. Victory’s arm, bent at a shallow angle at the elbow, offered the laurel crown to the winner. In her other hand, she grasped a palm branch, the tip resting on her shoulder.

When the Romans seized her after Pyrrhus of Epirus abandoned her in Tarentum, she ceased being Nike, who had fought alongside the Olympian gods against the Titans, and became Victory. Octavian brought her to his city after defeating the Egyptian queen Kleopatra and her lover Marcus Antonius. When he recast himself as Augustus, he placed golden Victory in the Senate and recast her as the symbol of Rome, her numen. While she stood, Rome would never fall.

Fresh from his victory at the Frigidus River, four hundred years after his god was born, Theodosius the Christian had marched into the Senate, paused and stared at the statue of Victory with his hard fanatic’s eyes.

Now, twenty of Theodosius’ soldiers plodded into the Curia. They ignored the shocked faces of the senators whose first loud protests faded to mutterings, which died when the centurion gave a curt command to the work party to line the approach to the ancient square altar, swords out and ready.

‘In Jupiter’s name, stop!’ the younger Apulius shouted, the only one to break the silence.

The centurion turned slowly, a cynical look on his face as he looked Apulius up and down. The only sound in the curia came from metal on cloth and the creak of leather boots. Every eye was on the two men.

‘Jupiter? That old women’s tale?’ the centurion said after a pause. He snorted. ‘Christ is our god, and the only one. You’d do well to remember that. Sir.’ He added in a tone half a breath off a sneer.

He flicked his fingers impatiently at the four legionaries surrounding the altar. They hesitated. A trace of incense hung in the air as it had for hundreds of years. They glanced at the watching senators, the walls, the floor, each other, but none dared to look up at Victory. Apulius wished she would come off her globe and take flight, scattering them like panicking sheep.


But what happened to the statue of Victory? Bag a copy of Rubicon and read on…

You can buy RUBICON here:
Ebook: Amazon UK    Amazon US
Paperback: Amazon UK   Amazon US


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers. Double Pursuit, the sequel, is now out!

Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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