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The Next Big Thing

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As a part of writers’ blog phenomenon “The Next Big Thing”, the most amazing Prue Batten tagged me to answer ten questions about my work in progress. I will then pass the baton to other writers to challenge them to answer the questions themselves.

It’s probably easier for other writers than it is for myself at this particular juncture, however, as they will be solidly involved in a project. I, however, have just completed Marius’ Mules 4, am writing a number of short stories for collections, am planning the next novel and also have a completely secret manuscript knocking about with an agent. So what do I answer about?

Well there’s no point in doing the short stories, really. I‘m not about to reveal the details of my currently secret project. So, whether to talk about the recently finished novel or to deal with the next project? The answer’s simple. I shall do both!

1.       What is the working title for your book?

The book I just finished was known only as Marius’ Mules IV throughout its production. It was only a week or so back in post-production that I realised I hadn’t actually fixed on a name. I couldn’t decide whether to centre on the Legions, the Roman conspiracies or the invasion of Britain. In the end I settled on 3 different ones and put them to my proofer/test reader, who decided on ‘Conspiracy of Eagles’ and I’m extremely pleased she did. The next book has the working title of ‘A De’Ath In The Family’.

2.       Where did the idea come from for this book?

Marius’ Mules 4 was simply a progression on Caesar’s Gallic Wars for 55bc with other threads drawn from the first 3 books. But… as for De’Ath? Many years ago, with the help of a friend, I ran up a plot for a comedy horror Live roleplay game. I’d forgotten about it for years until half way through writing MM4, when I came across the printed plan for a plot I’d thought long lost. I seemed a shame to waste it.

3.       What genre does your book fall under?

Marius’ Mules IV: Conspiracy of Eagles is quite definitely Historical Fiction (ancient Roman military to be exact.) A De’Ath In The Family I keep describing as The Addams Family/The Munsters/Murder By Death. It is Comedy Gothic Horror.

4.       Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

In MM4, I know the characters well and have always had the actors down in my head. Fronto would have to be Gary Oldman. Balbus possibly John Goodman. Galronus: Hugh Jackman. And Caesar? Well Ciaran Hinds made such a good job of it in the HBO series, I’d have to go with him. I’m afraid it’s too early in the process to try and cast De’Ath yet.

5.       What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?


MM4: While Caesar continues his attempt to conquer the world with pushes into Germany and Britain, and his army begins to corrupt from within due to the activities of dissenters, Legatus Fronto investigates the mysterious deaths of a number of prominent officers.

De’Ath: A seemingly random assortment of characters are invited to an exclusive party at a strange mansion, where they are introduced to the world’s most odd and eccentric family as a plot centuries in the making unfolds around them.

6.       Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

They are both self-published, sadly. I have a book with an agent but I am unable to reveal details on that at the moment.

7.       How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

MM4: Three and a half months! But… De’Ath is my attempt to join in with NaNoWriMo and will be written entire within the month of November!

8.       What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hmmm. Well I could only compare Marius’ Mules 1-4 (somewhat humbly) to the likes of Simon Scarrow’s Cato & Macro series or Anthony Riches’ Empire series if not up to their astounding standard. As for the other book (De’Ath), I have no idea literarily. But the Addams Family, The Munsters, or Murder by Death wouldn’t be too far off.

9.       Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Ooh. Marius’ Mules was easy: I was mostly inspired to write it by numerous people who kept asking me when the next one was coming out (particularly a surprising number of people who were looking forward to Caesar in Britain). As for the other work? Well I’ve had this plot knocking around for years and that it should suddenly surface from apparently being lost just before I finish a work-in-progress seemed simply fate. I feel inspired.

10.   What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Ooh. Well for those who’ve read Marius’ Mules 1-3, you’ll perhaps be interested to find out what happened after the epilogue of 3. 4 is the beginning to big things that will see something of a change in the series. What might pique the interest re: De’Ath? Well the range of odd characters and peculiar circumstances all bound up in wacky gothicness should be the big draw. I think I’ve shown hints of my somewhat oddball sense of humour in the historical and fantasy books I’ve produced and I hope people will be interested to see a whole book built on those bricks of weirdness.

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

I was tagged by Prue Batten at http://mesmered.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/the-next-big-thing/

I’m not really sure who to tag in return, but I think, if they’re up to the challenge:

Gordon Doherty (http://www.gordondoherty.co.uk/writeblog)

Rob Wickings (http://excusesandhalftruths.com/)

Martin Lake (http://martinlakewriting.wordpress.com/)


Written by SJAT

October 27, 2012 at 7:10 pm

One Response

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  1. Thoroughly enjoyed the expose on MMIV and like all your fans, can’t wait to read it. And De’Ath? What a huge departure!

    I don’t think you need say that it is sad that you are ‘indie’ published. Many many good books have made the light of day through this method of publishing and it’s a legitimate, positive and very fresh side of the book market! That you entertain wonderfully is an undeniable fact. You have a rabid readership behind you proving you have what it takes.

    I can’t wait to read Gordon’s, Martin’s and Rob’s NBT. Love that Inkslingers are taking it to the crowd…



    October 27, 2012 at 10:23 pm

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