218 BC. Hannibal’s exhausted army staggers down from the last Alpine pass like a rabble of half-starved savages, the remnants of a once magnificent army that had set out from the Rhodanus with such hope. Now there is no way back. With the legions of Consul Publius Scipio closing fast, Carthage needs its Gaulish allies like never before. But where are the Insubres? Where are the Boii? Where are the thousands of warriors pledged by solemn oath?In the maelstrom of battle, Sphax, nephew of Hannibal, forges a reputation as the scourge of Rome. But will his ingrained recklessness and quest for honour set him at odds with the forbidding genius of his uncle? Only one thing is certain in this winter of winters, a great battle is coming that will decide the fates of Rome and Carthage.
Did or do you like to read comic books/graphic novels? Which ones?
I get through a book every week, mostly non-fiction and often history. If I pick up a novel that gets me hooked by page two I tend to do nothing else but read all day! So, I have to ration my novel reading… One or two of my friends enjoy comic books/graphic novels but this genre isn’t for me I’m afraid.
Whom did you inherit your love for books/reading from?
My mother… defo! My grandmother said that she was born with her head in a book. But also a couple of teachers at school encouraged me and pushed good books my way.
When you need a murder victim or someone you can diagnose with a serious disease or someone who is involved in a fatal accident do you sometimes picture someone nasty you have met in real life and think ‘got you’ LOL?
My hero Sphax is probably one of the greatest serial killers in history. Gauls, Romans… you name them, he’s slaughtered ‘em by the hundred, so I can’t really picture many of their faces – they’re just fresh meat! What I don’t like is killing off someone I like and have invested sentences and emotions on. That really is difficult.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
As I’m writing about ancient Rome and Carthage, I have to do quite a lot of research to make sure the names are authentic. It would be great fun to use Roman names as the Python team did in The Life of Brian (Naughtius Maximus), or Gaulish names as in the Asterix series (Getafix), but I’m afraid I’m stuck with authenticity!
Do you write other things beside books (and shopping lists 😉 )?
I studied music at university and have written music most of my life. Six years ago I painted myself into an artistic corner and felt totally blocked. My way out of this nightmare was to write a novel, and I haven’t looked back since. Now I divide my time between words and music.
If a movie or series would be made from your books, would you be happy with the ‘based on’ version or would you rather like they showed it exactly the way you created it?
As long as my hero, Sphax, was played by Alexander Dreymon (The Last Kingdom Series) and Corinna was played by Scarlet Johansson, I wouldn’t mind. I think filmmakers and screenwriters often do a better job than novelists. I think the first film in The Hunger Games trilogy is brilliant, but the book by Suzanne Collins is rather dull.
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
That’s easy – Hannibal. I’m absolutely fascinated by the man, but so is everyone else! The last time I looked on YouTube I counted sixty documentaries about him before I gave up counting. There has probably been more written about him than any other general in history. And it’s the little known facts that I enjoy…
Not many people know that he was blind in one eye or a master of disguise. A year into his campaign against Rome he feared assassination and began wearing wigs and strange clothing that even fooled his closest friends! It wasn’t just elephants he took over the Alps, his closest companions were a Greek philosopher and a Greek Historian. And certainly not many people know that the entire German war plan of 1914 was based on one of his battles.
Do you have certain people you contact while doing research to pick their brains? What are they specialized in?
Absolutely! My hero, Sphax, is a Numidian. And Numidians are famed for their skill on horseback. They ride without saddles or reins, controlling the animals by touch. Luckily, my daughter-in-law is also an accomplished horsewoman and my go-to person on horse law! Another invaluable source of information is a friend of mine who sails. I’m writing book three at the moment and there’s a great deal about sailing and battles at sea. He howls with laughter sometimes at my blunders and nautical impossibilities!
Is there someone you sometimes discuss a dilemma with?
My wife, and she’s usually right!
What is more important to you: a rating in stars with no comments or a reviewer who explains what the comments they give are based on (without spoilers of course)
I always prefer a written review, even if the reader doesn’t like the book. And not all readers will like it. That’s a certainty!! As long as the reviewer is honest and reasonable, I’m always interested to hear what they have to say. It’s lovely when a reader writes that they enjoyed the story, but if a writer is to get better, they need honest criticism.
Thank you, Robert M. Kidd and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
When Cato the Censor demanded that ‘Carthage must be destroyed,’ Rome did just that. In 146 BC, after a three year siege, Carthage was raised to the ground, its surviving citizens sold into slavery and the fields where this once magnificent city had stood, ploughed by oxen. Carthage was erased from history.
That’s why I’m a novelist on a mission! I want to set the historical record straight. Our entire history of Hannibal’s wars with Rome is nothing short of propaganda, written by Greeks and Romans for their Roman clients. It intrigues me that Hannibal took two Greek scholars and historians with him on campaign, yet their histories of Rome’s deadliest war have never seen the light of day.
My hero, Sphax the Numidian, tells a different story!
When I’m not waging war with my pen, I like to indulge my passion for travel and hill walking, and like my hero, I too love horses. I live in Pembrokeshire, West Wales.
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