“Creating a Fictional World”

Talk by Alison Morton

Our first meeting of the year took place at the “Hotel du Parc” in Saumur on the 19th January 2019. Despite the continuing protests by the “gilets jaunes”, our speaker, Alison Morton, and forty-five members and friends had carefully planned their routes to avoid delays and everyone arrived at the hotel in good time.

Alison is the author of the award-winning Roma Nova thriller series featuring modern Praetorian heroines. The first image she showed was of herself at 11 years old carefully inspecting the mosaic floor of a Roman ruin. This was her life changing moment. Since that day, Alison has spent a lifetime clambering over Roman ruins throughout Europe. It was the beginning of her passion for Roman history, and indeed, for anything Roman.

A language specialist, Alison’s career path led her to follow in her family’s military footsteps. She joined the Territorial Army in a special communications regiment. Six years later she left as a captain, having done many interesting and exciting things no civilian would ever dream of.

Alison has always been an avid reader; in particular she felt inspired by the crime, adventure and thriller fiction of authors like Robert Harris, Kingsley Amis, Jo Walton and Harry Turtledove.

The Roma Nova novels take place in an imaginary world created by Alison based upon her love of all things Roman. Alison became curious about the role of women in the complex, powerful and value-driven Roman civilisation. That started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women.

Setting out on the pathway of becoming an author is evidently not easy. Alison’s first book took three years to write. She has just written three books in two years. We learned the challenges of maintaining the web of history originally woven for one book as a whole series evolves; we discovered that notebooks are kept in pockets for immediate access before joining piles of others filled with ideas. Characters must live naturally with and interact with the world created for them.

Alison is most certainly a very disciplined person who writes every day, if possible. We are most grateful to her for giving us an insight into her work and in particular for her gifts as she presented each of us with a book in the Roma Nova series. Thank you so much Alison.

This very interesting talk was followed by an convivial lunch in the hotel restaurant. Among the ESU LV regulars we were delighted to welcome one or two faces we seldom see amongst us. The food was excellent and the service too. The staff were helpful and gave us their full attention. Our thanks to them and to Alison for making this a most enjoyable first meeting of 2019.