Friday 22 May 2015

Guest Author....Alison Morton

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 – regular and reserve Army, RAF, WRNS, WRAF – all over the globe.

So 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 started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women

Now, she lives in France and writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with tough heroines.

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series
 shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year

PERFIDITAS, second in series
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
 finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year

SUCCESSIO, third in series
Historical Novel Society’s indie Editor’s Choice for Autumn 2014
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
Editor’s choice, The Bookseller’s inaugural Indie Preview, December 2014


Today Alison is sharing with us her latest novel in the Roma Nova series

Late 1960s Roma Nova, the last Roman colony that has survived into the 20th century. Aurelia Mitela is alone – her partner gone, her child sickly and her mother dead – and forced to give up her beloved career as a Praetorian officer.

But her country needs her unique skills. Somebody is smuggling silver – Roma Nova’s lifeblood – on an industrial scale. Sent to Berlin to investigate, she encounters the mysterious and attractive Miklós, a known smuggler who knows too much and Caius Tellus, a Roma Novan she has despised and feared since childhood.

Barely escaping a trap set by a gang boss intent on terminating her, she discovers that her old enemy is at the heart of all her troubles and pursues him back home to Roma Nova

Alison, welcome back to Jaffareadstoo 

Thank you for having me on your blog today, Jo and Jaffa. I love visiting you both!

A reader asked me the other day how long I took to write my books.  Well, it’s been not quite six years since I typed the first scene of INCEPTIO, the first Roma Nova story, although it was March 2013 before it was published. The second, PERFIDITAS was out the following October and SUCCESSIO, which completed that trilogy followed in June 2014. Sound very fast, doesn’t it? But Roma Nova has been bubbling away in my head for decades. When it burst through in late 2009, Roma Nova the country was fully formed and its inhabitants developed as characters. Then I had to learn the craft of writing novels!

History runs in my veins. When I touch a piece of Roman concrete, pick up a Samian ware dish or stare at a first century fine mosaic, I am spellbound. The modern mini-state of Roma Nova and its inhabitants are real to me – I’ve lived there for years.

In the city

I’ll come clean. I’ve travelled through much of Europe and walked across fields, through towns and up mountains similar to those in Roma Nova. I’ve smelt pines, touched olives and grapes in warm sunshine and know what it’s like to freeze in a European winter in the middle of a military exercise, so the lives of my heroines Carina and Aurelia draw something from my own. Combined with this, I’ve devoured thrillers since I could read and always liked to outthink the book’s author. When I couldn’t, it was a huge pleasure. I vowed that if I wrote books, I would write ones that surprised, or not at all.

green fields_sm
North of the City
Jaffa asked me how I held it altogether over three and now four books. The answers are managing change, a reasonably good memory and a large folder of spreadsheets.

Firstly, managing change… My novels progress in time; the characters mature as life hands them trouble, challenges, conflicts and dreadful choices. They marry, gain promotions, have children, form new friendships and discover unwelcome things about themselves, but also strengths and virtues they never dreamed about. Sometimes they just have to endure. This is what we all have to do in life, but perhaps not at the adrenaline level of Carina and Aurelia!

The memory question… This simply comes from being immersed in Roma Nova for so long! If I have the slightest doubt about a meeting a building or a character’s hair colour, I go back and check in previous books. Luckily, in the digital age, this is a matter of seconds. 

And spreadsheets… These are especially useful for tracking ages, births, marriages and deaths of the characters, particularly in relationship to each other. Nobody wants an eleven-month pregnancy or a thirteen-year-old father! A glance at the spreadsheet will tell you exactly how old all the characters are at a given point in the series.

AURELIA, although the fourth book in the series, starts a new three book cycle within the Roma Nova series, so new readers can start here.  The next book in the series is half drafted and the one after that is planned out. And there is still so much about Roma Nova’s heroines that I have to tell you…

You can find my review of AURELIA here

My thanks to Alison for this guest post and for sharing her inspiration for AURELIA with us today.

Alison is very kindly offering a fabulous copy of AURELIA to one lucky winner.

To be in with a chance of winning a copy of


Easy peasy entry

 What name would you give to your imagined world and why?

The best comment chosen will win.

**Open Internationally **


Leave your comment below and don't forget to leave a contact email
so I know where to find you.

Giveaway closes : 29th May 2015


This competition is now closed.


  1. Please use these comment boxes to name your alternate world....

    To get the ball rolling my alternate world would be ......JARTAS which sounds a bit like it has come from Jaffareadstoo !!

  2. POSTFALL, an island city which survived a North Europian war with terrorists, and now exists, quietly, off the Atlantic coast of what was once France. Europe is now decimated, but not ruined as far as farming is concerned, so the Postfallers can bring food to the island and anything else their scavaging battalions can find on their regular mainland landings.

    1. That's a great name Susan - I can picture POSTFALL perfectly.

      Good Luck :)

  3. Well done Susan - AURELIA will be on its way to you soon.

  4. Exciting - I can't believe no-one else came up with a name (and if anyone reading this likes my idea enough to turn it into a book, you can have it, BUT I must be a character in the book!!
    Thank you Josie.


    1. You're welcome Susan - I think you idea for POSTFALL would make a great story. You should try and write it yourself - as long as there is a space for a rather superior ginger cat somewhere ...


Thanks for taking the time to comment - Jaffareadstoo appreciates your interest.