Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Interview with Alison Morton, author of Perfiditas

Author interviews are one of my favorite things to post which is why I am super excited to welcome author Alison Morton to Flashlight Commentary to discuss her latest release, Perfiditas. 

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Welcome to Flashlight Commentary Alison. Great to have you with us. To start things off, please tell us a bit about PERFIDITAS.
Thank you for inviting me, Erin. PERFIDITAS is the second in my alternate history thrillers set in Roma Nova, a small but imaginary last province of the Roman Empire that has struggled through to the 21st century. Carina Mitela, a Praetorian Guard Special Forces officer, is falsely accused of conspiracy and flees into the criminal underworld. Weaving through a jumble of treachery and lies, she has to work out who are the betrayers and who the betrayed if she is save her beloved Roma Nova and her own life. 

What inspired you to write this story? 
PERFIDITAS is the sequel to INCEPTIO, and follows the further adventures of Carina. I’ve been a deep-steeped ‘Roman nut’ from the age of eleven, but I’ve always wondered what a modern Roman society based on traditional values but run by women would be like. 

You probably have many, but is there a scene you particularly enjoyed writing?
I loved the scene where Carina has to go back and confront her former criminal associates. (I can’t say more or I might give an important part of the plot away!)

What scene posed the greatest challenge for you as an author?
I find the emotional love scenes between my heroine and hero quite difficult – I’m happier in an action or confrontation scene – but my critique partner says some of them are my best scenes! I have to work a little harder on them, but perhaps they’re worth it.

Sometimes fiction takes on a life of its own and forces the author to make sacrifices for the sake of the story. Is there a character or concept in PERFIDITAS you wish you could have spent more time with or expanded on? 
I’d like to have developed every character in full, but the resulting book would have been an impossible length! A thriller has to move along at a strong pace and although characterisation is important, sometimes, you just don’t have the space. But I try to give every named character some personality or quirk.

Historical novelists frequently have to adjust facts to make their stories work. Did you have to invent or change anything while writing PERFIDITAS and if so, what did you alter and why? 
Alternate history is by definition history that has diverged from the standard timeline, but it should follow historical logic as well as taking into account the social, economic and political development throughout that history. My imaginary country of Roma Nova tends to keep out of alliances and being sucked into wars, but it has interacted with the rest of Europe throughout its sixteen hundred years’ existence. For instance, remembering their Byzantine cousins’ defeat in the Fall of Constantinople, Roma Novan troops assisted the western nations at the Battle of Vienna in 1683 to halt the Ottoman advance into Europe. More of Roma Nova’s history here...

If you could sit down with one of your characters, maybe meet for a few hours and discuss things over drinks, who would you choose?
It would have to be Carina! She’s forthright and you would get her opinions as they are, but she’s also thoughtful and can be very kind to others. She’s a bit of a smartmouth so you’d probably be laughing a lot of the time. And that can’t be bad!

Where did the title of your book come from and how does it relate to the story? 
PERFIDITAS means ‘betrayal’ or ‘treachery’ and the concept applies on the personal, professional and national level. I think readers may enjoy working out exactly where the different levels of betrayal lie.

What do you hope readers come away with after reading your work?
First and foremost, the satisfaction of having been entertained with a gripping story that takes them out of their own world into another while retaining their trust. Readers have told me they truly engage with Carina who has shown them that a woman who had a rocky start in life can aspire to a decisive, if not pivotal, role beyond the traditional female stereotype. 

Authors are famous, or infamous, depending on your point of view, for writing their own experiences, friends and acquaintances into their narratives. Is there anything in PERFIDITAS that sprang directly from your personal history? 
Well, I was in the military for six years which helps with the action scenes, but there are no friends and acquaintances as such in my stories. That would definitely be opening the proverbial can of worms! I’ve picked and pinched characteristics, mannerisms from here and there, even hints of names, though. I do have experience of speaking different languages and crossing cultures, so I empathise with Carina when she feels lost sometimes in Roma Nova’s traditional and rather robust society.

Okay, we've talked a lot about your book. Let's switch gears and talk a little bit about you. How would describe your writing process? 
I’m not sure I can call it a process! The first set of characters had been maturing in my head for years so I had them nearly fully formed when I started to write the stories. Although I have a general outline of each plot, the detail tends to evolve as I go along. The characters’ quirks and interactions dictate how the story emerges to fit the overall outline. Sometimes the characters take over the show! But I have a little talk to them and we agree on a compromise and I nudge them back into the story.

I’ve developed a tracking grid which keeps the timeline straight and where I can jot down the main actions in each chapter – a kind of index to the book. After the first rough draft, I leave the file in a folder and ignore it for at least six weeks and work on something else.

When I open it again, I carry out the first edit with my red pen. Then off it goes to an external assessor. He/she will look for plot holes, character failings, extraneous or awkward scenes and inconsistent dialogue but more than anything for cohesiveness and whether the story grips. Without page-turning quality, the book won’t deliver a good read and that’s the writer’s duty.

Then revisions and on to a final edit. I’m very lucky to have a critique partner who is eagle-eyed, caring and scrupulously honest, so she had been a sounding board as well as critic all along. After all this, then it’s off to the publishing house to turn it into a book...

Oh, maybe it is a process after all. ;-)

Two words: writer's block. How do you deal with it? 
So far, I haven’t suffered from this. Sometimes, you feel uninspired or even a little worried you are going to write complete rubbish, but the best thing is to plough on and write that rubbish. After a while, the story will flow again. And, of course, you’ll tidy it up when you edit.

Who are your favorite authors? 
I could easily list 100 names! This is an impossible question to answer!

What are you currently reading? 
I’ve just finished Robert Fabbri’s Vespasian: Tribune of Rome which I loved – so vivid and engrossing. My next is revisiting Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks, a spy story set in the Second World War.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?
Sleeping and eating! I enjoy my garden and drinking local wine here in France, and I run the local book club. 

Where do you stand on the coffee or tea debate? 
I sit firmly on the fence! I love my first cup of tea in the morning, but then savour my breakfast and mid-morning coffees. Then it’s tea for the rest of the day.

And finally, what's next for you? Do you have a new project in the works? Planning a vacation? Anything exciting and/or noteworthy? 
I’m busy drafting the fourth book in the Roma Nova series. In between times, I travel a lot to the UK for book events like the London Book Fair and summer conferences. I love catching up with friends when I’m over there. And most exciting, my third book, SUCCESSIO, comes out in June and will be launched in London.

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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…

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series, was shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award and awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion® in September 2013. The next in series, PERFIDITAS, published October 2013, has also just been honoured with the B.R.A.G. Medallion®. Alison is working on the third book SUCCESSIO which will be out in June 2014.

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Format: Paperback & eBook
Publication Date: October 17, 2013
Released by: SilverWood Books
Length: 288 pages
ISBN-10: 1781321248
Genre: Alternate History
Series: Roma Nova

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Be Sure to Check all the Stops on Alison Morton's Perfiditas Virtual Book Tour

Monday, April 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, April 15
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, April 17
Spotlight & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Monday, April 21
Review at Book Nerd
Wednesday, April 23
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Friday, April 25
Interview at Dianne Ascroft
Monday, April 28
Spotlight & Giveaway at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Tuesday, April 29
Review at Ink Sugar Blog
Wednesday, April 30
Interview & Giveaway at Ink Sugar Blog
Friday, May 2
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Monday, May 5
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Thursday, May 8
Interview & Giveaway at Books and Benches
Monday, May 12
Guest Post at Royalty Free Fiction
Tuesday, May 13
Review & Interview at Tower of Babel
Friday, May 16
Spotlight at Reviews by Molly


Alison Morton said...

Thank you, Erin for a lovely interview and honest reviews - the kind I like!

Alison Morton said...

I'd just like to let readers know that the link for PERFIDITAS Kindle ebook has changed. Please use the following new links:
Amazon US - http://www.amazon.com/PERFIDITAS-Roma-Nova-Alison-Morton-ebook/dp/B00K2RU8OE
Amazon UK - http://www.amazon.co.uk/PERFIDITAS-Roma-Nova-Alison-Morton-ebook/dp/B00K2RU8OE
Amazon CA - http://www.amazon.ca/PERFIDITAS-Roma-Nova-Alison-Morton-ebook/dp/B00K2RU8OE

Really sorry for any inconvenience!