She’s hunting arms smugglers. But who is hunting her? One dead body, two badly injured operatives and five crates of hijacked rifles. In Rome, former French special forces intelligence analyst Mélisende des Pittones is frustrated by obnoxious local cops and ruthless thugs. Despite the backing of the powerful European Investigation and Regulation Service, her case is going nowhere. Then an unknown woman tries to blow her head off. As Mel and fellow investigator Jeff McCracken attempt to get a grip on the criminal network as well as on their own unpredictable relationship, all roads point to the place she dreads – the arid and remote African Sahel – where she was once betrayed and nearly died. Can Mel conquer her fear as she races to smash the network and save her colleague’s life?
When and where do you prefer to write?
When we moved to France, we had an office built in the half-basement. It’s airy and I have a window through which I can watch plants, butterflies and birds. Sometimes I use a standing desk, other times I sit. Usually I write in the morning (while my brain works) and sometimes in the evening (brain refreshed by my 6 o’ clock glass of wine.)
Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?
Complete and utter silence, apart from the birds outside chirruping and singing
If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
Crumbs! Robert Harris, the author of Fatherland and the Cicero trilogy, but I’d be incredibly nervous. Ditto for Lindsey Davis who writes Roman detective fiction, but how fabulous it would be!
Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
Either a goodie with some big flaws, or a baddie with a heart of gold
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
At one end of the scale, Gal Gadot as Wonder and at the other and Empress Livia Drusilla, wife of Augustus, the first Roman emperor, at the other end. WW is brave and tough, unafraid to leap into action; Livia is clever, her husband’s councillor, and a great survivor. (And no, she isn’t the villain portrayed in Robert Graves’s ‘I, Claudius’!)
Where can I find you when you are reading?
Curled up on a sofa or in bed
Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
In the garden, tugging weeds out and pruning shrubs, or enjoying a glass of wine on the terrace. In better times, travelling to give talks on my books in the UK, Ireland, US and other parts of France.
What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
Although I’ve written eleven thrillers and two non-fiction books, plus three contributions to short story collections, the feeling of opening the cardboard box and lifting out a copy of my new book still fills me with a mix of awe, relief and pride.
How do you come up with a title for your book?
Ha ha! Never easy. Seriously, the first book in this new Mélisende thriller series was called Double Identity as the heroine is half-French, half-English, hovering between the military and civilian worlds and discovering how all the people around her seem to have a secret second self.
I decided to keep the ‘Double’ element for the following books in the series as it implies an instant conflict and multiple layers to the story. ‘Pursuit’ came from the two-way hunt; Mel is hunting arms smugglers, but she realises that somebody is pursuing her.
How do you pick a cover for your book?
I have a great designer! Jessica Bell (https://www.jessicabelldesign.com/) sends me a very detailed questionnaire to make a design brief, then she sends me three concepts and we go from there.
The ‘winner’ was clear from the start; it showed a strong and determined woman which is perfect for heroine Mel/Mélisende, and an anonymous man who could be her fellow investigator Jeff McCracken protecting her back or the villain. A brilliant piece of ambiguity! Black and white half-tone figures for crime and thrillers seem to be becoming popular, so this is on-trend. I loved it so much I asked Jessica to revise the cover of the first book to match.
The key is to be clear about what you want but to respect the professional designer knowledge and expertise. Like editing, it’s teamwork.
Thank you, Alison Morton and Zooloos Book Tours
About the author
Alison Morton writes award-winning thrillers featuring tough, but compassionate heroines. She blends her deep love of France with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical and thriller fiction.
“Grips like a vice – a writer to watch out for” says crime thriller writer Adrian Magson about Roma Nova series starter INCEPTIO.
All six full-length Roma Nova thrillers have won the BRAG Medallion, the prestigious award for indie fiction. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices. AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. The Bookseller selected SUCCESSIO as Editor’s Choice in its inaugural indie review.
Double Identity, the first of the new Mélisende thrillers, was selected as one of BookBub’s best reads in March 2021.
Alison now lives in Poitou in France, the home of her heroine in Double Identity and Double Pursuit. She is also planning the next book in her Roma Nova series.