All posts tagged: Ancient Rome

2 books on Roman cookery to give away!

Today I have two copies of Mark Grant’s book on Roman cookery to give-away.   I used this excellent book on researching the food eaten by my characters in my novel Roman Mask.  Roman cookery is so intriguing because it is both so similar to our modern palettes, but also subtlety different.  The Romans were of course famous for lavish banquets, but Mark Grant focuses on what the normal people ate, rather than the over-indulgence of the few.  His recipes come from ancient writings and he attributes each source for each of the dishes.  The Romans used herbs and strong flavours and you can see the origins of the Mediterranean diet that we know today.    Having an authentic meal in a book is a great way to set a scene and instill a particular mood, and I found this book incredibly useful in my research.  It also comes in handy if you want to host a dinner party that has a unusual edge.  All his recipes can be compiled by gathering commonly bought ingredient’s today – …

Borderlands and frontiers part 2: Historical

Last week I looked at the borderlands in the fantasy genre, the contested boundaries that have been immortalised by writers.  This week I want to look at the borderlands in our own world, and look back into history to find the lands along borders that can be a great place to set a historical novel. picture: thewardrobedoor.com Greece – Asia Minor. 1200 BC to AD 334 Some of the most famous settings for the great scenes of classical world took place on Greece’s border with her neighbour.  Agamemnon’s siege of Troy, when the King of Kings led all the nations of Greece against the great city to its ultimate downfall.  Then a few hundred years later, you have the Persians being held up at the pass of Thermopylae by Leonidas and his three hundred Spartans, before Xerses can lay ruin to the Greek mainland.  Finally you have Alexander the Great going back the other way and landing in Asia Minor and defeating the Persian Satraps at the battle of Granicus.  Literally thousands of books have been …

A final walk along the Wall and then home…

Just a short post today, as I’ll be driving back from Northumberland today as it’s the end of my holiday.  It’s been a fantastic trip, staying in my old cottage, surrounded by history and the beautiful countryside of the area.  I even made it back to Hadrian’s Wall on Friday, after my first trip needed to be aborted due a heavy downpour of rain.  This time the weather was much kinder I had a fantastic walk between Steel Rigg and Housesteads. This section of the Wall shows the remains of a few of the mile-castles that were evenly spaced along the Wall, and each housed around thirty men.  I know it doesn’t appear that that much is left of the mile-castle in the picture, but when the Wall was in active use it would have stood at fifteen feet high, with battlements and a walkway all along the Wall, with three turrets or watchtowers interspersed between each mile-castle.  As you can see from the rocky and craggy countryside, that was no small building achievement along …

A great review for Roman Mask in the Daily Mail

I’m writing this from a small cottage, nestled in the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland, and even though it is late July, the weather has been disappointing and chilly, so I have a fire blazing in the fireplace.  It is a beautiful part of the world and I was hoping on showing you some great pictures of Hadrian’s Wall that runs through this county, unfortunately when I visited the Wall yesterday it was absolutely pouring with rain and I had to halt the exhibition – even the dog wasn’t too keen on going out in it as it was so heavy.  Still, never mind, I’m up here for another week, so there should be ample opportunity to re-visit the Wall. The week hasn’t been a total loss anyway, because I received my first review in a national newspaper (The Daily Mail) for my novel Roman Mask. Unfortunately, I had no idea the review was coming out in the newspaper and because I was in the wild hills of Northumberland, by the time I heard about in the late …

Ancient Roman sites to inspire you…

Whilst writing my novel Roman Mask, I was inspired by many of the great ancient sites that can be found all around Europe and the Mediterranean basin.  This is by no means a complete list of all the wonderful sites that are in existence, but here are a few that inspired me… Rome, Italy.  How could I start anywhere else?  The ancient city that was at the heart of her Empire has to be on everyone’s list of places to visit if they are interested in Ancient Rome.  So much still remains and is easily accessible in this fantastic city.  The Colosseum was incredible, but as it was built later than my novel was set I couldn’t use it for research, but it still gives an amazing perspective on the sheer power and dominance that Rome held over the world at the time.  The Augustan palace on the top of the Palatine Hill nearby was very useful for me, and stretches all the way to the ancient forum at the centre of Ancient Rome.  But …

Walking along the Wall and through History…

This may be my last Sunday update for a while, as I will be driving up to Northumberland next Sunday so I doubt I’ll be able to write my normal Sunday post.  I am very fortunate that my family own a small cottage up in the Nortumbrian hills, somewhere I can go to write, relax, and a be inspired. Anyone familiar with this beautiful part of England will know that Hadrian ’s Wall runs through the county.  It one of Rome’s most famous engineering projects and not only divided the British Isles but also continued to shape its history long after the Roman’s left our shores.  Would England and Scotland have developed separately without the Romans dividing their lands before either nation existed?  Who knows, but I doubt it.  Either way, it is an amazing example of their ambition, as well as their military and engineering might. George R R Martin says it was whilst visiting Hadrian’ Wall that he started to form the idea for the Wall that divided Westeros in his magnificent Game …

Roman Mask give away! Free Roman Masks up for grabs!

To celebrate the release of my novel ‘Roman Mask’ this week, I have decided to give away three Roman masks of my own!  You can see what they look like in the picture below.  Ok, they don’t look exactly like the mask found at Kalkriese (which is the image shown on the front cover of my book) but they are close enough and are suitably dramatic, so I thought they would make a nice prize.  They are all made from paper-mache and are hand painted.  If you would like one, simply enter the words ‘Roman Mask’ in the comment field.  Next week, I will put all the names in the hat and pull three out and ask the winners to send me their address so I can send them their mask.  The offer is open to anywhere in the world providing you have a postal address I can send it to. Incidentally, if anyone is interested in seeing the original Kalkriese mask it can be viewed at the Kalkriese museum  alongside other archaeological findings from the …

Apologies if I drive you all crazy tomorrow…

Ok, I better apologise in advance, because tomorrow I think I might drive everyone mad telling them about my book which comes out tomorrow!! It’s so exciting having my novel go live, so grant me this day of  blatant self-promotion! My blog will return to normal soon, where we can discuss other novels in the Historical or Fantasy genre…but tomorrow is MY DAY! Roman Mask: A fast paced action packed novel that begins in Rome AD 9, but leads to the events that will resound down in history, in the dark forests of the Teutoburg…. It’s been a long journey getting to this point, so it is wonderful to finally see it all come together.  I have loved the Historical-novel genre my entire life, so I am delighted to finally be able to contribute something to it.  It truly is a lifetime’s ambition just to get to this point, regardless of anything else that might come of this in the future. I plan to be doing lots of promotional work over the summer for Roman Mask, and …

Roman Mask Sunday Update

Okay! Almost there now!  The map is now done- Hooray! I wasn’t sure at first whether I wanted a map for my novel or not, after all we’re all familiar with the general geography of Europe.  However, the names of the countries have obviously changed and I decided I needed to at least display the locations portrayed in the narrative of the book.  It is not an all-encompassing version of the Roman world, I could have gone into a lot more detail, but I thought that might make it difficult to locate the important destinations discussed in the novel. I thought long and hard about whether to add the mountains or not – the map is just a reference point for the reader, so was this necessary?  I decided that as one section of the Alps plays a not-insignificant role in the novel, I had better put them in.  However, I thought drawing small little trees to represent the Teutoburg forest was a step too far, and instead just marked it on the map. There …

10 Types of Bad guys!

The Lord of the Manor – “What shall we do with the scullery maid we found reading a book, Lord Dastardly?” “Have her dismissed, force her parents off my land, and send her brothers and sisters to the local poor-house.  That should stop her getting ideas above her station…” You can’t beat the arrogance and sense of entitlement of the English Lord and Lady, unless….. The mean King – Unless he is the king of course! The English normally supply most these bad guys as well, and you have plenty to choose between.  From Edward 1st ‘Hammer of the Scots’, Richard III locking his nephews in the Tower (then murdering them), to Henry VIII and his severance package for estranged wives. The decadent Emperor – Ancient Rome with all its wealth and power needs a good insane Emperor to keep things ticking along.  Making a horse a senator (Caligula), killing his mother (Nero), or being deluded into thinking he was Hercules (Commodus), you have plenty to choose from, and that’s just Rome… Ancient China, The British …