June 20, 2016
If you're a fan of "Outlander" or a fan of food, this post is for you.
A few years ago when my Borgia duology was coming out, I had the idea of putting together a virtual potluck with several food bloggers who would cook Renaissance dishes out of my book. The results were fantastic
, and I made the acquaintance of some wonderful cook--among them Theresa Carle-Sanders, pro chef and blogger extraordinaire at Outlander Kitchen
, where she has been faithfully recreating one fabulous recipe after another from Diana Gabaldon's epic series. And with the recent smash hit of the Starz Outlander mini-series, I wasn't at all surprised to hear Theresa had landed an official cookbook deal!
I've already sampled several recipes out of this sensational cookbook (order here!)
but this has to be my favorite so far--hands down winner when it came time to pick a recipe spotlight!
GOAT CHEESE AND BACON TARTS
It was a savoury made of goat’s meat and bacon, and he saw Fergus’s prominent Adam’s apple bob in the slender throat at the smell of it. He knew they saved the best of the food for him; it didn’t take much looking at the pinched faces across the table. When he came, he brought what meat he could, snared rabbits or grouse, sometimes a nest of plover’s eggs—but it was never enough, for a house where hospitality must stretch to cover the needs of not only family and servants, but the families of the murdered Kirby and Murray. At least until spring, the widows and children of his tenants must bide here, and he must do his best to feed them.
“Sit down by me,” he said to Jenny, taking her arm and gently guiding her to a seat on the bench beside him. She looked surprised—it was her habit to wait on him when he came—but sat down gladly enough. It was late, and she was tired; he could see the dark smudges beneath her eyes.
—VOYAGER, chapter 4, “The Dunbonnet”
From Theresa: Vegetarian options were tough to come by in the eighteenth century, and goat meat can be hard to find for some in the twenty-first, so I’m claiming food-from-fiction license with this switch-up from a meat pie to one-bite puff pastry rounds topped with a savory goat cheese spread. A delicious addition to the snack table at your next book club meeting or office party.
From Kate: These are a wonder. Cheese, bacon, and herbs all packed into one delicate, flavorful bite. A recipe done easily in several stages; light work for big payoff (especially if you go with frozen puff pastry). A winner!
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into ¼-inch strips
½ recipe Blitz Puff Pastry (page 29), chilled, or 1 pound (450 grams) frozen puff pastry, thawed
8 ounces (225 grams) goat cheese
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon, grated or minced
1 large egg
2 tablespoons butter
36 small fresh sage leaves, or 18 large ones, cut in half lengthwise
Move a rack to the top-middle rung and heat the oven to 400°F.
In a frying pan, crisp the bacon over medium heat. Drain on paper towels.
On a lightly floured counter, roll the pastry out to a 16-inch square. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the goat cheese, bacon, poppy seeds, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir well. Cover and refrigerate.
Lightly beat the egg with 1 teaspoon cold water to make an egg wash. Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut 36 rounds from the pastry. Transfer to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and brush with the egg wash. Bake until puffed and golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely on the baking sheet.
Reduce the oven to 300°F.
In a small frying pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter until bubbling over medium heat. Fry the sage leaves in batches until crisp. Drain on a paper towel–lined plate and repeat with the remaining sage leaves.
Top each puff pastry round with a teaspoonful of the goat cheese mixture and a
fried sage leaf. Heat in the oven for 5 minutes and serve. Makes 36.
May 2, 2016
For more than a year now, I've been working on a new book. Something very new, very different, and until now, very hush-hush. Until now I've kept the details under wraps--but as of today, the announcement is official. My new project will launch in summer 2017 at Morrow, with my fabulous new editor Amanda Bergeron at the helm.
Bestselling author of "Mistress of Rome," Kate Quinn’s THE ALICE NETWORK, a novel taking place in 1915 and 1947, in which an unmarried and pregnant American launches a desperate search for a beloved cousin who vanished in Nazi-occupied France, and finds her only ally in a chain-smoking, battle-scarred old woman who belonged to the real life network of female spies led by Louise de Bettignies during the First World War and who remains haunted by a thirty year old betrayal.
This book was a departure for me, but I loved every minute of it. I loved the 20th century setting, I loved the intermeshing dual timelines, and above all I loved the real-life female spies whose story is so fascinating it begged to be told--google Louise de Bettignies
and see for yourself!
I loved writing THE ALICE NETWORK, and I hope you love reading it next summer!
April 18, 2016
I have been LONGING to share this new project, and finally I can: the H Team is back with a fabulous new collaboration. Vicky Alvear Shecter, Simon James Atkinson Turney, Russell Whitfield and I are joined by new team members Christian Cameron, Libbie Hawker, and Stephanie Thornton in a seven-part tale of the Trojan War.
You know the story of the Iliad . . . but not like this.
Expected release date: October 2016
March 21, 2016
Every day, rain or shine, I throw on a pair of sneakers, leash up the dogs, and go for at least an hour-long ramble in the local park. Even when I'm on deadline and scrambling to give my WIP every possible minute, I carve that hour out. Why? Because it's the best writing aid in the world, bar none.
Victorians were very fond of long pointless rambles, generally up to some scenic location which could then be penned in endless flowery journal entries, but in the modern era, nobody seems to walk anymore. We don't walk to the grocery store or the post office; we don't have time. We don't let our kids walk to school; too dangerous. We don't walk for exercise; we drive to the gym and get on a treadmill so we can walk to nowhere and know exactly how many calories we burned doing it. But I'm a big believer in walking as an aid to writers, and here are six reasons why.
1. It gets us outside.
When you have the ultimate indoor job, a ramble outdoors means you're soaking up some much-needed sunshine on what is probably a pasty-white face. Sun may be bad for you, but there's a reason most early cultures revolve around sun worship: sunlight makes people feel good. Slap on some sunscreen, but get outside; you'll feel better.
2. It makes us unplug.
Even if we take our phones, you're still getting away from the hypnotic glare of the laptop screen. We all need to do this more often.
3. It's exercise.
Writing is sedentary. Tire your legs out before you sit down for six hours of editing, and you'll be a lot less foot-jittery. Also slimmer.
4. It will untangle your plot problems for you. Seriously.
If you've been banging your head repeatedly against the latest brick wall your ms has thrown up in your way, go for a walk. While walking your mind falls into an absent-minded kind of meditation. “Oooh, sunshine . . . Rats, I forgot to put on sunscreen . . . Pretty trees . . . I wonder if “Crimson Peak” is out on DVD yet . . . What should I have for dinner . . . Oh! I know exactly how my heroine gets out of that locked trunk now!” Plotting problems have a habit of unspooling when you let your mind wander in random directions rather than trying to focus hard-core—it's like one of those trick pictures where you see it clearly only by looking slightly to one side. Not to say we can't let our minds wander at home, but most of us have to-do lists that start distracting, emails that start pinging, chores silently begging to be done. Go for a long stroll, however, and your mind has no choice but to wander.
5. It's the best way to talk your way through a new idea.
Take a friend on your walk and yatter through your writing problems. Bouncing ideas off a like mind is a fast way to get inspiration for a new project, plan a new book, or unravel that character dilemma you don't know how to handle. And something about walking-and-talking makes the ideas flow twice as fast; no idea why. I take the phone and call the Dowager Librarian every morning as I ramble; by the time we hang up, whatever plot dilemma facing my daily word-count is solved.
6. It makes the dogs leave you alone.
Just try hitting your word-count when you have two pooches staring at you soulfully, informing you that you are a monster on a level with Mussolini for not getting up right now and taking them out to chase squirrels. Once back from the walk, they'll go to sleep and leave you in peace. Besides, watching dogs chase squirrels is the cutest mood-lifter on earth if you're a little down after killing 650,000 fictional characters in a mass historical slaughter.
So, grab a pair of sneakers and go for a walk. I guarantee your word-count will thank you.
March 1, 2016
I am SO proud of this book, having been lucky enough to get an early peek as critique partner: a fabulously-researched story about the founding of the country, finally available for readers wherever books are sold.
In this compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.
About the Book
From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.
It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.
Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father's reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.
Buy AMERICA'S FIRST DAUGHTER:
Learn more about the book
Advanced Praise for America’s First Daughter:
“America’s First Daughter brings a turbulent era to vivid life. All the conflicts and complexities of the Early Republic are mirrored in Patsy’s story. It’s breathlessly exciting and heartbreaking by turns-a personal and political page-turner.” (Donna Thorland, author of The Turncoat)
“Painstakingly researched, beautifully hewn, compulsively readable -- this enlightening literary journey takes us from Monticello to revolutionary Paris to the Jefferson White House, revealing remarkable historical details, dark family secrets, and bringing to life the colorful cast of characters who conceived of our new nation. A must read.” (Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental Empress)
About the Authors:
STEPHANIE DRAY is an award-winning, bestselling and two-time RITA award nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her critically acclaimed series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into eight different languages and won NJRW's Golden Leaf. As Stephanie Draven, she is a national bestselling author of genre fiction and American-set historical women's fiction. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation's capital. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the stories of women in history to inspire the young women of today.
Stephanie’s Book Club |Stephanie’s Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter
LAURA KAMOIE has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction as the New York Times bestselling author, Laura Kaye
. Her debut historical novel, America's First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.
Laura’s Website |Facebook |Twitter |Newsletter Sign-Up
January 8, 2016
1. You can name every book they've ever written, describe their fictional heroes and heroines down to eye color and childhood traumas, and know their writing schedule as well as your own—but aren't 100% sure how many children they have. (Laura Kaye—it's two, right? We've only known each other 4 years . . .)
2. You've beta-read so many of each other's rough drafts that your margin notes look like Sanskrit and you have long lost the need to be polite. (Stephanie Thornton's "The Conqueror's Wife," page 337 of the rough draft: “Seriously, another severed head? Does nobody in this book ever bring anything else to a party? Have they never heard of house-plants?!”)
3. Your lunch dates scare the civilians. Because the waiter invariably walks up as one of you is saying brightly “I killed a baby today!” and collecting high-fives and exclamations of “Omigod, so happy for you!” from around the table. Waiter invariably sprints off white-faced before he hears the accompanying “So, this was in Chapter 9 . . .” (Sophie Perinot and I have probably been banned from most of the restaurants in the greater DC metro area.)
4. You're more accustomed to seeing them in some kind of costume or historical rig than out of it. Especially true of the hist-fic pals. If I ever met Ben Kane, Russell Whitfield, or SJA Turney at a conference where they were in normal clothes rather than Roman breastplates and mail, I'd walk right past 'em.
5. You get the emergency call to show up with ice cream and wine for some serious weeping and wailing. But the drama is all over deadlines, not love-lives. (Eliza Knight and I killed a bottle or two as we cried over our collaborative stories in “A Year of Ravens,” and the impossibility that we would ever get them finished in time.)
6. You've had in-depth discussions about everything under the sun, and you each know what the other thinks about life and death, love and work, politics and art, history and pychology. But three years into the friendship you're turning around in amazement and saying “I had no idea you had a sister!”
7. You know each other's writing so well, you can eyeball a crutch phrase from a mile away and hone in on that sucker like a sniper. (Stephanie Dray knows I will carp like a fishwife the moment I see the word “tresses.” Christi Barth beats me over the head about not using enough commas.)
8. Your spouses commiserate over deadline stress. My husband and Lea Nolan's had old home week at the last dinner party. “Yeah, so my wife's curled in the corner gnashing her teeth this week.” “Why, she copyediting?” “Yep, for two more weeks.” “Yeah, that's rough at our house too . . .”
9. They're some of your best friends on earth—and you've met face to face twice. C.W. Gortner and Donna Russo Morin and I only see each other at conferences roughly every other year, but we always fall on each other with cries of joy and proceed to gab more or less nonstop for three days.
10. You have standing dates, not for book clubs or lady lunches or anniversaries, but for book-release days. Writer friends can be counted on to keep you away from the Refresh button on your Amazon Sales Rankings. They WILL use handcuffs if necessary.
Thank God for writer pals. There's no one quite like 'em and without 'em you'd be in the funny farm.
December 19, 2015
Nothing fits better in a Christmas stocking than a book. Here are my recommendations for your next shopping trip, the best books I read in 2015 (though not all were published this year) and just who you should buy them for. Why eleven and not the usual ten? I got bored, so you get a bonus book.
1. “The Solitary House” by Lynn Shepherd.
Is there any fictional setting more delicious than the seamy underbelly of Victorian England? Lynn Shepherd dives deep under the prim-and-proper surface of 1850s London with this superbly atmospheric tale of a young detective on the hunt for a missing child and a mysterious killer who might just be a young Jack the Ripper. Street urchins, Whitechapel prostitutes, powerful men with depraved secrets, not-so-insane patients locked up in lunatic asylums, and a Dickensian Bleak House twist make this one a winner—and better yet, the first in a series. Shepherd's young detective goes on to star in at least two more adventures.
Buy for: your mother, if like mine she is pining for the return of “Penny Dreadful.”
2. “Praetorian” by S.J.A. Turney
Delicious unpredictability is what sets “Praetorian” apart from the rest of the guts-and-glory Roman HF out there. A villain looks like he's shaping up to be a long-term adversary, only to be suddenly killed off. Emperor Commodus comes onto the scene, trailing hints of madness, hubris, and Joaquin Phoenix, but is unexpectedly . . . a nice guy? You never quite know where the twisting path of the plot will take you, so all you can do is follow along with stalwart and endlessly likable legionary Rufinus as he is promoted from simple legionary to Praetorian guard, and thrust into a world of plots, shadows, assassinations, and heart-stopping swordplay.
Buy for: that teenage boy in your life, be it son or grandson or nephew, who doesn't like history. He'll be sucked into Rufinus' adventures before he knows it, and probably beg for a gladius. Settle for getting him “Rome: Total War” and the sequel to Praetorian which is already out.
3. “The Secret Life of Violet Grant” by Beatriz Williams
A charming, quirky, witty dual narrative that snaps back and forth between Vivian, a '60s career girl struggling to make a name as a journalist, and Violet, her scientifically-minded aunt struggling to be accepted as a physicist in pre-WWI Berlin. Vivian's narrative as she tries to untangle her aunt's long-buried secrets is flippant, funny, and delightful.
Buy for: the most irreverent member of your Girl Squad. She'll see herself in Vivian.
4. “Defending Jacob” by William Landay
Read about teen killers in the media, and we all shake our heads. “How could their parents not have known?” William Landay dives into that question in this tense and terrifying tale where a teenage boy is accused of murdering a classmate, and quickly becomes the town pariah as the court case grinds on. The boy's staunchest defender is his powerhouse lawyer father, who wrestles legal demons and personal ones as he comes to face the question: what if his son is guilty after all? An unputdownable book that screams to a breathtaking climax.
Buy for: your legal beagle cousin. Watch him switch his dreams from prosecution attorney to family law.
5. “Rodin's Lover” by Heather Webb
Camille Claudel would not have been an easy woman to know, but she sure was a fascinating one to read about. The daughter of French bourgeoisie, she has zero interest in marriage or domesticity—zero interest in anything, really, except becoming a sculptor. Prickly, proud, disciplined, and obsessed, Camille pushes away friends, alienates suitors, and uses family, all in the fierce pursuit of art. Her partner in art and love is Rodin, who understands Camille's drive because he shares it. Powerful, poignant, beautifully written.
Buy for: your niece going off to art school. Tell her that if she starts hearing voices like Camille, for God's sake go to a doctor.
6. “Queen of the Tearling” by Erika Johansen
The first in a fascinating new fantasy series revolving around a young queen struggling to protect her country from a terrifying neighboring empire which demands monthly Hunger-Games-like slave tributes. There is magic and mayhem and battle, but the real draw here is the young Queen herself: refreshingly plain, resolutely blunt-spoken, headstrong and compassionate and brave. She's a real girl who dreams about romance but has no time for it with a new throne and an incipient invasion on her hands—I look forward to the next installment in her adventures.
Buy for: that smart-as-a-whip little girl in your life, whether sister or daughter or just the kid down the block who you babysit. Promise you'll take her to the upcoming movie of this book once it comes out, starring Emma Watson.
7. “Leviathan Wakes” by James S.A. Corey
Space opera for the ages by an author team who knows how to turn up the tension like almost no other writers I've ever read. The world-building is impeccable, the science is sound without drowning the story in techno-babble, the space-battles are thrilling, and the characters solid: an idealistic ship captain and his shattered crew running from a lethal secret in a world where humanity has colonized the solar system but not yet the stars. There are four books following “Leviathan Wakes” in the Expanse Series, and a Sy-Fy TV show airing this month.
Buy for: your geek buddy at work who hates how women in sci-fi/fantasy so often fail the Bechdel Test. She'll be in agony which Expanse character to cosplay next: tough-as-nails Marine Bobbie, brilliant engineer Naomi, or foul-mouthed little politician Avasarala.
8. “The Conqueror's Wife” by Stephanie Thornton
Stephanie Thornton is rapidly becoming my favorite author for badass women of the ancient world, and this is her best yet. The focus here isn't really on Alexander the Great, but on the people who surrounded him and shaped his legacy: his tomboy sister Thessalonike who yearns to be a warrior; scientifically-minded Persian princess Drypetis who seethes in captivity after her father is dethroned; ruthless beauty Roxana who craves power as Alexander's wife; and the lovable Hephaestion who is the conqueror's boyhood companion and lover. All these narrators are fascinating, and their voices interweave in a gorgeous chorus of stirring battles, opulent feasts, luxurious palaces, and a never-ending web of intrigue.
Buy for: that old college history professor you still meet now and then for coffee. He'll swoon for the lush historical detail. If you're feeling really evil, buy an extra copy for that anti-gay-marriage drone you drew for Secret Santa at work, and watch their heads explode as they read about all these sexually-fluid Greeks.
9. “Lords of Discipline” by Pat Conroy.
A tortured, beautiful, moving story of the friendship between four boys attending an elite Southern military academy, surviving brutal hazing and the agonies of first romance even as the school goes through its own growing pains with integration, institutional racism, and the looming threat of the Vietnam War. Betrayal and tragedy will strike one of the four before graduation, but the ending is full of a savage and gorgeous payback.
Buy for: your ex-Army dad. Ask him if all officers really had to go through hazing this horrible.
10. “The Tudor Vendetta” by C.W. Gortner
The third in Gortner's rip-roaring series about Tudor spy Brendon Prescott, who has his hands full this time around: a poisoning attempt on on the newly-ascended Queen Elizabeth, a missing lady-in-waiting, and a dire Spanish plot—not to mention a deadly adversary come back to haunt him. Tudor fiction can feel tired, but the Spymaster trilogy is fresh, fast-paced, and delightful.
Buy for: your uncle, the one whose wife made him sit through all of “The Tudors” and now consequently thinks the whole era is bodice-ripping and leather pants and pouty-lipped kings. Brendon's sword fights and spy games will balance the scales.
11. “Medicis Daughter” by Sophie Perinot.
This is Renaissance France meets Game of Thrones: dark, addictive historical fiction that coils religious strife, court intrigue, family hatred, and betrayed innocence like a nest of poisonous snakes. Princess Margot, daughter of the infamous Catherine de'Medici, is our guide to the heart of her violent, incestuous family: a French Sansa Stark who transforms from naive beauty to accomplished game player to woman of conscience.
Buy for: your sophisticated older sister, because she reminds you of Margot's worldly, witty, and hysterically funny mentor the Duchesse de Nevers. We all need such women in our lives.
And we all need these books in our lives, too. Hurry outside, go buy them--and Merry Christmas!
November 23, 2015
As I wrote A YEAR OF RAVENS with my six co-authors Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, Eliza Knight, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Simon Turney, and Russell Whitfield, we were often asked about the collaborative process. How exactly does one go about writing a book-in-seven-parts? Well, it involves a lot of emails, a lot of Skype sessions, a lot of back-and-forth Facebook chats--and we undertake it with a great deal of seriousness, as you see from this collection of direct quotes as we moved through the stages of collaboration this year.
As We Outline Our Stories
Simon: “I have an eight-page outline, anyone want to have a look?”
Kate: “My entire outline is eleven words.”
Stephanie: “I want to talk over-arching themes. What are we trying to say with this book? What’s our overall message?”
Vicky: “Why are we talking overarching themes before we even know what happens?!”
Ruth: “My heroine’s name--Ria or Narina? Oh well, I’ll decide by the time I’m done.”
Eliza: “Really?! I can’t move forward at all until my heroine has a name.”
Russell: “Hey guys, my story’s already finished!”
All of us: (outwardly) “Wow, you’re so motivated!” (Inwardly) “Bastard.”
As We Research
Ruth: “This poem I’m reading on Celtic wooing practices, `The Wooing of Etain . . .’ Not a lot of wooing in it. Sparky bunch.”
Stephanie: “Russ, you walked Hadrian’s Wall in full Roman armor--does chain-mail really go thunk-scratch
as you walk?”
Russell: “It’s actually more wunk-thunk-kitch, wunk-thunk-kitch
As We Research Some More
Stephanie: “My Roman procurator's villa is in Narbo. But I might need to change the color of the grapes in his vineyard. Maybe we can't be sure of the climate in that specific place for whatever variety of grape existed before modern variations 2000 years ago.”
Kate: “Don't mention the color of the grapes. Just say they're ripe. Nobody cares what color the grapes are.”
Stephanie: “I'm putting in the color of the grapes! You can't stop me. I've gone rogue.”
Kate: “Is that the mulish streak of an author thinking "I looked it up. I researched it. It's going in the book or time is wasted?"
Stephanie: “Absolutely! I don't even drink wine. I don't know the difference between a Syrah and a Chardonnay. You think I researched grape regions in France for my health? No, Madam. I did not.”
As We Write
Stephanie: “The f*cking king still isn’t burned.”
Ruth: “So many Iron Age names are completely unusable. Corotica, Auumpus, Aessicunia . . .”
Russell: “My hero can’t keep his willy in his subligares.”
Vicky: “All right, break for lunch, then back to the slaughter.”
Eliza: “My muse today is a bitchy bitch who bitches.”
Simon: “I've managed to put two tines of a fork into my hand.”
Kate: “I love you guys.”
As We Procrastinate
Kate: “Hey, look at this! `Buzzfeed quiz to find your Celtic name!’ I got `Floraidh, the Gentle Petal.’ Jesus. What are you guys getting?”
Simon: “`Muireann, born of the sea.’ For a man who has to travel 50 miles to the ocean, I find that amusing.”
Russell: “`Aidan the Fiery Rider. The ancient Celts would have seen you as the bringer of light.’ And I’m a complete slacker . . .”
Vicky: “I got Muireann too. And I live 250 miles from a beach.”
As We Finish Our Rough Drafts
Stephanie: Slept for ten hours straight after writing 22,000 words in 4 days.
Eliza: Pulled four all-nighters and is now drinking wine straight from a jar.
Vicky: Cross-eyed from maneuvering her mind around the mental contortions needed to plausibly excuse a massacre.
Ruth: “Mightily glad I finished my story when I did, because seconds later a huge spider ran across the desk. I'll be decamping to the kitchen until it's died of old age. Or possibly until I have.”
Simon: MIA. Apparently fled all the way to Wales to get away from the non-stop barrage of Boudica emails.
Kate: Killed approximately 80,000 fictional Celts and has used every synonym in the book for "slaughter."
Russell: Smiling like a cat in the cream because he finished his story first and didn't skate across the deadline over-caffeinated, under-slept, and hooked up via IV to the nearest alcoholic beverage like his co-authors.
As We Edit Each Other
Stephanie: “Kate, don't have your hero kick the severed head. Soooo disrespectful.”
Eliza: “Two stories to edit AND another book out this week . . .”
Vicky: “Wait, you guys feel sorry for my story's homicidal maniac?”
Simon: “______ ______ _____!” (Editing while on holiday, bumping down a Welsh country road in the passenger seat of a Vauxhall Zafira, going 25 mph behind a horse caravan).
Ruth: “Well, my heroine's unconscious through all of THAT story, so that saves me writing her any dialogue . . .”
Kate: “Russ, editing your foul-mouthed optio is having a deleterious effect on my vocabulary. I just told my cranky old plug-in coffeemaker to `Hurry up, you dozy f***ing cow.’”
Russell: “You're welcome, luv.”
As We Fact Check
Stephanie: “Eliza, stop looking up etymological roots! You can’t FIND a word that’s old enough! That’s the beauty of writing in the ancient world; you don’t have to do this!”
Eliza: “I. Can’t. Stop.”
Ruth: “I’ve spent the day only leaving the computer to hunt out books I haven’t used in years. I must go remind Husband that I’m still alive.”
Kate: “Russ, you say Gaulish, but should we go with Gallic?”
Russ: “Gaulish. Gallic brings to mind berets, stripy shirts, Gauloise cigs and accordion music.”
As We Fact Check Some More
Kate: “So, state funeral in the morning and then the pillaging starts . . . you think it could be done by 3pm or so?”
Ruth: “You know, I’m not sure how long pillaging takes. It’s not something I’ve ever given a great deal of thought to.”
Kate: “If the funeral is done by morning we have just enough time to kick off the pillaging. If that’s done by mid-afternoon, we can schedule the flogging . . . I sound like a demented event planner trying to rent a hall.”
As We Make Continuity Changes
Kate: “The blond slave girl mentioned in Story #3 cannot suddenly become a brunette in Story #5; the queen in Story #1 cannot possibly make it all the way north by Story #2 unless we involve a TARDIS; and that Druid cannot die in Story #4 by drowning AND in Story #7 by evisceration.”
Stephanie: “We need to decide on `Mona’ or `Ynys Mon,’ or the history police will crucify us.”
Ruth: “Crikey, don’t the history police have anything better to do?”
Several voices in unison: “No.”
As We Work On Promo
Vicky: “Ok, everyone pitch in on this Q&A.”
Stephanie: Talks overarching theme.
Ruth: Talks archaeological evidence.
Simon: Talks character development.
Russ: Makes hilarious rude jokes.
As We Celebrate Book’s Launch
Ruth: “Really, this was wonderful. It’s been like a crash course in writing combined with group therapy, only funnier.”
The rest of us in unison: “AWWW . . .”
(Then the Yanks wonder: “Do the Brits hug?”)
(As the Brits wonder: “Five hour time difference . . . too early for the Yanks to pour celebratory drinks?”)
November 17, 2015
Today marks the release of the second collaborative novel I have ever had the pleasure of taking part in! Last year, five other authors and I collaborated to write a novel-in-six-parts about the fall of Pompeii; it was titled "A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii"
. This time around my co-authors and I (most of the same bunch, plus some delightful new faces) tackled the Boudica rebellion against Rome. The result? "A Year of Ravens: a novel of Boudica."
Our sophomore collaborative proved to be a bigger, darker, far more complex book than "A Day of Fire." What can I say, we wanted to up our game! And in the process, we had about as much fun as is legally possible to have while still calling it work. Approximately three million emails passed between the seven of us as we wrote, mostly hilarious - I adore every one of my co-authors and would work with them again in a heartbeat. We're all very proud of "A Year of Ravens," and we hope you enjoy it too!
Buy your copy here!
Amazon US (print and Kindle)
| Amazon UK (print and Kindle)
November 13, 2015
Just a few short days till A YEAR OF RAVENS comes out. I'm always on tenterhooks before a release, and in dire need of distraction. Thank the gods Alison Morton's box set of her terrific Nova Roma trilogy has been released! I know what I'm reading this weekend while I chew my nails off waiting for my own release . . .
Suppose a part of Ancient Rome survived?
In Alison Morton's alternate thriller world, her 21st century Praetorian heroines survive kidnapping, betrayal and a vicious nemesis while using their Roman toughness and determination to save their beloved country. Unfortunately, their love lives don’t run so smoothly...
Alison has written four thrillers against this background - INCEPTIO, PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO and AURELIA. She’s working on the fifth, INSURRECTIO, out in spring 2016.
But this month, the Roma Nova box set is out and contains the first three books – nearly a 1,000 pages of action adventure and alternative historical thrills in three books which have 140 five star reviews on Amazon between them.
INCEPTIO – the beginning: New Yorker Karen Brown is thrown into a new life in mysterious Roma Nova and fights to stay alive with a killer hunting her…
“Breathtaking action, suspense, political intrigue” – Russell Whitfield
“Grips like a vice. Excellent pace, great dialogue and concept.” – Adrian Magson
PERFIDITAS - betrayal: Six years on, where betrayal and rebellion are in the air, threatening to topple Roma Nova and ruin Carina’s life.
“Sassy, intriguing, page-turning … Roma Nova is a fascinating, exotic world” – Simon Scarrow
SUCCESSIO - the next generation: A mistake from the past threatens to destroy Roma Nova’s next generation.
“I thoroughly enjoyed this classy thriller, the third in Morton’s epic series set in Roma Nova.”
– Caroline Sanderson in The Bookseller
Historical Novel Society indie Editor’s Choice Autumn 2014
The box set is released on November 10 at a special price of $5.99 on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and B&N Nook
Even before she pulled on her first set of fatigues, 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 – all over the globe. She even wrote her history masters’ dissertation on women military!
Alison joined 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 civilization, she started wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women. Now, she lives in France with her husband and writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with tough heroines.
Connect with Alison:
Nova Roma blog
Facebook Author Page