Posts Tagged ‘Inceptio’

Guest Post – Alison Morton – SUCCESSIO

Today I’m very happy to welcome my friend Alison Morton back onto my blog.  Alison has just published the third book in her Roma Nova series, SUCCESSIO, and is here to talk about it.  (The previous two books in the series were INCEPTIO and PERFIDITAS). As I’ve mentioned before, they are an intriguing blend of alternative (alternate) history, suspense thriller and romance, so I had some questions for her:-

Q – Okay, first of all, what does the title mean and what made you choose it for this book?

A – SUCCESSIO has a double meaning: ‘what happened next’ and ‘the next generation’. As you’ve seen before, I love playing with words and their meanings.  No doubt I’ll get into trouble for it one day! I think the original Latin word successio has shifted in meaning in English although it’s kept it in the romance languages like French.

Q – This is the third book in the series and your heroine Carina Mitela has come a long way since the first time she found out Roma Nova existed.  What’s been the hardest thing for her to adapt to?  And does she ever wish she could go back to a time before she knew about Roma Nova?

A – Although she’s thoroughly at home in her role as a Praetorian and has slowly grown into her social role, she sometimes has feelings of still being the outsider. As she says, she has ‘zero intention of going back to the EUS’ where she was brought up, but she is very happy to speak in English from time to time. When you cross cultures, there are always gaps both in knowledge and values. But they can be strengths: she often looks at things with a different perspective which triggers her into finding a unique solution to a problem.

Q – I have immense respect for the real Romans and always find it amazing that some of the things they invented were lost for centuries (millennia in some cases!) after the fall of Rome.  Which of their achievements are you most in awe of?

A –  I won’t go into the John Cleese speech in the Life of Brian, but although there were massive failures in this respect, I think the idea of the rule of law is very important. Also the fact that if you were a Roman citizen, you had the ability to rise to the top. Now, that’s a massive generalization for a society riddled with class systems, but it was possible on merit, connections (networking as we call it now) and proven track record. In the military/political field.

Q – The Roman empire fell spectacularly in the end and one can’t help but think of the phrase ‘pride goes before a fall’ – do you think we’re in danger of heading the same way now?  (That’s a bit of a ‘Mad Max’ question, but you know what I mean)

A – Well, the Roman Empire declined and dissolved over quite a long period, rather than collapsed in one go. It was weakened in many places and on many layers by a variety of things so when the crunch came, it was fatal. Here’s more about the Roman dusk:

My personal view for now is that we have to keep our heads, ignore the hysteria in the newspapers and dig out hard facts. Homo sapiens is supposed to be intelligent and adaptable. It would be a shame if she/he succumbed to irrationality and rumour and didn’t have the vision to look towards a better, more realistic future.

Q – I’m still intrigued by the concept that Roma Nova is ruled by women.  Do you think we should be to a much greater extent?  (I’m kind of thinking of Angela Merkel of Germany who seems to be the only leader in Europe recently not to have received a drubbing at the polls!)

Definitely! Women of all political shades and talents should be much more present in government, industry, science and commerce. There is a tendency to lump ‘women’ together as a heterogeneous group. We are people as well. 😉 Politically, you have had Mary Robinson, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Golda Meyer and Angela Merkel – all completely different characters, but they all stand out because they are so few. That’s the problem.

Q – Finally, what’s next for Carina and Roma Nova?  Are you working on a fourth title or would you like a break now to start a different project?

Roma Nova marches on! The fourth novel tells the early story of Aurelia Mitela, Carina’s grandmother. Book five will be about the terrible rebellion that almost destroyed Roma Nova. So I have quite a lot to be getting on with!

Many thanks for being my guest today!

A pleasure, as always, Christina. Thank you for having me!

So what’s SUCCESSIO about?

Roma Nova – the last remnant of the Roman Empire that has survived into the 21st century – is at peace. Carina Mitela, the heir of a leading family, but choosing the life of an officer in the Praetorian Guard Special Forces, is not so sure.

She senses danger crawling towards her when she encounters a strangely self-possessed member of the unit hosting their exchange exercise in Britain. When a blackmailing letter arrives from a woman claiming to be her husband Conrad’s lost daughter and Conrad tries to shut Carina out, she knows the threat is real.

Trying to resolve a young man’s indiscretion twenty-five years before turns into a nightmare that not only threatens to destroy all the Mitelae but also attacks the core of the imperial family itself. With her enemy holding a gun to the head of the heir to the imperial throne, Carina has to make the hardest decision of her life…

And here’s the SUCCESSIO book trailer (quite exciting!):

About Alison
Alison Morton writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with strong heroines. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French, German and Economics, a masters’ in history and lives in France with her husband.

A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she has visited sites throughout Europe including the alma mater, Rome. But it was the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) that started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by women …

Both INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series, which was also shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award, and PERFIDITAS, the second in series, have been honoured with the B.R.A.G. Medallion®, an award for independent fiction that rejects 90% of its applicants.  Alison’s third book SUCCESSIO is being launched this month!


Connect with Alison on her blog

Facebook author page

Twitter @alison-morton


Buying links (multiple retailers):




Guest Author – Alison Morton

Welcome back to the blog, Alison!  I really enjoyed your first novel INCEPTIO and am very much looking forward to the second book in the series, PERFIDITAS.  Please tell us a little bit about it and what that word means?

Thank you for a warm welcome, Christina.  Great to be back!

PERFIDITAS means betrayal – our word ‘perfidy’ is closely related – but for the Roma Novans who have invested their whole way of life and motivation for survival over many centuries in their core values, it’s deeply repugnant.  And entangled with that, there’s betrayal on a personal level …

In INCEPTIO, Carina, the heroine has to cope with a whole new way of life, Roman style, and it was fun to follow her journey as she learned about her mother’s country of birth, Roma Nova, and adapted to it.  Is there more for her to learn in book no 2, any surprises for her and the reader?

Plenty of surprises!  Although Carina knows in her head that she has to be involved in the family-based social system, she tries to dodge it – she’s more interested in her exciting job.  But with privilege comes responsibility and she has to face up to it.  But in doing so she surprises herself.

I loved the way in INCEPTIO she decided to learn to defend herself and really knuckled down to it.  Those scenes were very real, so did you have to go to a boot camp yourself to get this right (or did you send someone else?  I would have!)?

Haha!  No, they’re drawn from my own military training.  Many’s the time I’ve had to go out on exercise in sleet or rain on the north German plain, or creep on my stomach across a frosty field while the opposition tries to outwit you.  The training for it was pretty rigorous!

The heroine learned to speak Latin fairly quickly – I assume the spoken version was easier than the written one?  And would you, yourself, be able to communicate with someone in Latin if you had to?

Like children with parents of different nationalities, Carina learnt her mother’s native tongue when she started to speak as a very young child.  Her father insisted she went to Latin class, but that stopped when he died when she was twelve.  It’s a little like the heroine in the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding who went to Greek school on Saturdays.  Carina didn’t use Latin again for years, but once the language is imprinted in the brain when small, it comes back.  I’m sure you know the experience yourself with Swedish!

Et ego?  Difficile est tenere quae acceperis nisi exerceas!

Me and Latin?  It’s hard to remember what you learned unless you practise it 🙂

Conrad, the hero, had been a bit of a bad boy before meeting the heroine, although the people of his country didn’t seem to look at it quite the way we do.  Does this come back to ‘bite him on the bum’ at all in the rest of the series?

You’ll have to wait!  But yes, the Roma Novan system of morality is quite different from ours, being based on inheritance of names, rights and property through women.  This goes back to the earliest times in Roma Nova when they were struggling to survive and women ran social, political and economic life when men were defending the young country.

Everything is based on the family/tribe.  Men join women’s families and take their partner’s family name, if the couple chose to marry formally.  Traditional Roman marriage is more a social and economic arrangement, not a religious one.  In modern Roma Nova, they can contract for a term, i.e. so many years, if they choose.  It’s always the woman’s eldest daughter who inherits whatever her parents’ contracted arrangements.  After all, you always know who a woman’s child is …

Conrad tries to hold it and himself together by doing the right thing all the time, but he struggles sometimes because of his traumatic childhood and it’s all bound to unravel sometime in the future. But that’s a little way off yet. 🙂

It was interesting to note the matriarchal society you created – is that something you think we should have?  Women are, after all, capable of multi-tasking to much greater effect than men (or so I’m told :-))

I wanted to explore the ‘what if’ idea where society was a mirror of the way ours had developed.  The real late Roman period was one where women’s power and influence were growing.  Without the patriarchal Christian political system that developed in Western Europe, I think that women wouldn’t have been so contained and relegated as they have been.

I had a lot of fun writing a potted ‘history’ on my own blog about how I imagined Roma Nova developing into a 21st century matriarchy which is a far more egalitarian society than ours and one that doesn’t conform to the male/female stereotypes or gender roles.  Whether readers would enjoy living there is something for them to decide …

Thank you, Alison, for telling us a bit about the background to PERFIDITAS. I look forward to the continuation of the series!


Captain Carina Mitela of the Praetorian Guard Special Forces is in trouble – one colleague has tried to kill her and another has set a trap to incriminate her in a conspiracy to topple the government of Roma Nova.  Founded sixteen hundred years ago by Roman dissidents and ruled by women, Roma Nova barely survived a devastating coup d’état thirty years ago.  Carina swears to prevent a repeat and not merely for love of country.

Seeking help from a not quite legal old friend could wreck her marriage to the enigmatic Conrad.  Once proscribed and operating illegally, she risks being terminated by both security services and conspirators.  As she struggles to overcome the desperate odds and save her beloved Roma Nova and her own life, she faces the ultimate betrayal …

Book trailer:

Buying links: PERFIDITAS is available through your local bookshop (paperback), on your local Amazon (paperback and ebook) and on other online retailers.





Special guest – Alison Morton

Today I’m very pleased to have my friend Alison Morton as my guest as part of her blog tour promoting her first novel Inceptio, which is released today.  Welcome, Alison!

Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Christina. I’m delighted to be here. You’ve asked me some wide-ranging questions; I hope I’ve done them justice!

You describe your novel as an “alternate history thriller” – can you tell us a bit more about that, as it’s not a concept I was familiar with?

Alternate history is based on the idea of “what if”? 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? Sometimes, it can be on the personal level such as in the film Sliding Doors, when the train door shuts and Gwyneth Paltrow’s character splits into two; one gets into the train, the other is left on the platform.

True alternate history stories contain three things: a point of divergence when the alternate timeline split from our own timeline; some description of how that world looks and works; and a logical sequence of how things have changed since the split.

In my book, four hundred Romans trekking north and founding a small colony in the late fourth century changed the whole world: the British didn’t leave North America until 1865, Europe is split into small federated countries. The thriller story – kidnap, death threats, mystery plus romance – takes place against this background.

Does your novel feature any ancient treasures?  (I’m very partial to books about those, I have to confess 🙂

Haha!  Not as such. Their values and way of life is their treasure.  But who knows in a later book in the series …

Who are your favourite thriller writers and is there anyone in particular who inspired your own writing?

When I was young, I adored Simon Templar ‘The Saint’ by Leslie Charteris. Although he did some morally dubious things, he was one of the good guys and an incurable romantic (I was also reading a lot of Georgette Heyer at the same time which may explain why I went around in a day-dream when younger!).

I think Lee Child, Robert Harris and William Boyd are current favourites for their sheer, sparse style and intelligent plotting. William Boyd’s espionage thriller, Restless, with two strong female leads, is one of the best books I have read. Wandering into historical crime, one of my favourites is Lindsey Davis’ cynical, but good-hearted Roman detective, Falco. I loved Kate Johnson’s The Untied Kingdom, both for its alternate history flavour and the jolly adventure. Although I loved the complexity of Sebastian Faulks’ Charlotte Gray my favourite crime and thriller female character is Eve Dallas written by J D Robb (Nora Roberts).

I understand that you have created a new country/state (well, new world really!) – how difficult was that?

Yes, Roma Nova.  It’s huge fun, but it takes a lot of research. Setting a story in the past is a challenge – you know this yourself! And the same is true if your story takes place in another country. But if you invent the country and have to meld it into history that the reader already knows, then your task is doubled. Unless you are writing post-apocalyptic, which is too fantastic for me, you have to make the geography and climate similar to the region where your imagined country lies. I’ll make a confession: I ‘borrowed’ Slovenia as the model.  And one of the big things you can’t neglect is the social, economic and political development; this sounds dry, but every living person is a product of their local conditions. Their experience of living in a place and struggle to make sense of it is expressed through their culture.

Do you think it’s possible that any such secret civilisations could exist, hidden away somewhere in the corner of the Earth?

With Google Maps, spy satellites and social media? Sadly, probably not, but it’s a lovely romantic thought. If you set a story before 1939, you could probably get away with it. But now, I think you have to alternate time as I did, if you want to play with that idea.

What pivotal moments in history really interest you and is there one in particular where you wish a different choice had been made, thereby changing the course of things to come?

Oh, what a gift of a question! Thank you. Any historian will give you a full list, but my personal one is when Emperor Julian the Apostate was killed in AD 363 at the Battle of Samarra. He was the last non-Christian ruler of the Roman Empire and wanted to bring the Empire back to its ancient Roman values to save it from dissolution.

His laws tended to target wealthy and educated Christians. Julian’s aim was not to destroy Christianity but to drive the religion out of the governing classes of the empire. He was well-educated, a clever and successful military commander, an able administrator and a survivor of lethal imperial family politics. He was only 31 when he died. You could draw a parallel with the death of JFK in 1963. Would that clever and talented leader have gone on to great things or would his own brilliance have been his downfall? If Julian had lived, would he have rolled back Christianity? A big “what if”!

You are obviously very fond of the Romans – why them in particular?

Strange, isn’t it, when they weren’t exactly a feminist bunch? Rome was founded in 753BC by riff-raff led, according to the legend, by Romulus and Remus and ended in the west in AD476. That’s an impressive 1229 years, seven hundred years of which Rome was the most politically important, richest, and largest city in the Western world. I don’t want to copy the John Cleese speech in The Life of Brian “What have the Romans ever done for us?” so I won’t go on about baths, transport, trade, architecture, etc.

Throughout kingdom, republic, principate and dominate empire they were a regulated and military society. They aspired to the highest values of service to the state and civic virtue. Although ideal Roman family life included the lowest status members of society, such slaves were the most fortunate. Repugnant to us now, all ancient, medieval and early modern societies and some even in the 20th century, used slavery as an economic force.

Corruption was rife in most periods, but the Romans developed systems of law, politics and taxation as well as the principle of the rule of law and for over two hundred years established the Pax Romana. Literary arts, learning, technology, engineering and the decorative arts flourished. But the impressive thing is the complexity of their civil and economic as well as military life, multiculturalism and scientific engineering.

Their attitude to women was legally repressive, but towards the later period, it changed considerable with much more freedom to act, trade and own property. Divorce was easy, but adultery could be fatal. And there are many accounts of women owning and running businesses of all types. As you know, history is not all it seems to be in the public perception.

Are you good at Latin and did you enjoy learning it at school?

Am I going to take a Roman attitude and say yes, I was top most of the time, or a British one and say, well, actually, I wasn’t too bad at it? 😉  I loved it, especially the rude and sexually explicit poems of Catullus…

Thank you so much for answering my questions, Alison – it all sounds absolutely fascinating and I can’t wait to read Inceptio!

Blurb for INCEPTIO:-

New York – present day alternate reality. Karen Brown, angry and frightened after surviving a kidnap attempt, has a harsh choice – being eliminated by government enforcer Jeffery Renschman or fleeing to the mysterious Roma Nova, her dead mother’s homeland in Europe.

Founded sixteen centuries ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women, Roma Nova gives Karen safety and a ready-made family. But a shocking discovery about her new lover, the fascinating but arrogant special forces officer Conrad Tellus who rescued her in America, isolates her.

Renschman reaches into her new home and nearly kills her. Recovering, she is desperate to find out why he is hunting her so viciously. Unable to reply on anybody else, she undergoes intensive training, develops fighting skills and becomes an undercover cop. But crazy with bitterness at his past failures, Renschman sets a trap for her, knowing she has no choice but to spring it…

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