Release Time – Free Giveaway!

JANUS PATER

The Memoirs of the Veturii, Book I

To celebrate the release of my novel, JANUS PATER, I am giving away free copies of my novel for five days on KDP.

If you are interested in Historical Fiction, Roman History or Stoic Philosophy, do NOT miss out on this giveaway!

The Route Map

Getting around the Roman way

One thing that the Romans are famous for is their roads. What would a story about ancient warfare involving Romans be without a worthy mention of their advanced mobility?

Also, a shoutout goes to Sarah Davidson at thesketchdragon.com for putting together an awesome route map for Drusus and his comrades to get from A to B! Also, a shoutout to her patience with all of my odd instructions (There are no “U” or “W” letters, only “V” and please change this word to that on account of my awful Latin). Indeed, I am really grateful to Sarah for her help in this project, just as I am to her for her for her help in the previous one.

Just a side note on Roman roads:

To achieve the final product of the true via munita, Roman roads of this sort had more than one layer:

  1. Levelled Earth, compacted if necessary
  2. Stones roughly the size of a hand
  3. Concrete or broken stones of lime
  4. Good old Roman cement
  5. Cut rectangular blocks in an elliptical shape with the apex in the centre – this shape would help with run off in rainy climates
  6. Sidewalks and gutters were often skillfully added by civil Engineers.

Let’s have a look at the route which Drusus and his men pound out under their boots:

The Cover Reveal

Below you will see the final cover for the eBook version of “Janus Pater” designed by Fiona Jayde of Fiona Jayde Media:

I highly recommend that you take a look at more of her work, because Fiona has a breathtaking portfolio which contains covers that she has designed over a wide variety of genres, and for a large base of authors.

On my cover, the dominating figure in the middle is a statue of the Roman god, Janus. The most frequent epithet of this god in Roman mythology and culture is Ianus Pater, due to the nature of his primordial role as a father figure in Roman paganism. Janus represented aspects such as transition, time, doorways and duality and it is no coincidence that the first month of the year is named for this god.

In my novel, the main character, Drusus has settled down as a retired veteran of the Roman Army, having been discharged with the rank of a first order centurion. Roman law at that time allowed discharged veterans to marry a local woman once-off, and she would be considered a Roman citizen, as would their children. In the beginning, it is clear that Drusus comes to terms with the culmination of his career at this rank instead of what he was aiming for, and he looks forward to a happy and fulfilling family life (despite the difficulties and challenges of the time) with his longtime partner, especially now that their union is official.

However, the novel takes place during the Boudicca uprising which happened around A.D. 60/61 and Drusus is called back into service unexpectedly. He then has to come to terms with the duality of being both a family man and a soldier – someone who is both caring and brutal.

In light of the above, I felt that a depiction of the god, Janus on the cover is incredibly fitting in relation to the themes of the story, though it provides a slight hint of the nature of the story in conjunction with the title. However, before coming to this conclusion, I had a myriad of not so bright ideas, many unrealistic and probably quite clichΓ©. Fortunately for me, Fiona stepped in and provided me with a concise and creative art board for a cover, the result of which can be seen above.

I have worked with Fiona in the past and would recommend her services to any author who is serious about creating an enthralling, relevant and meaningful cover for their work!

The Blurb

It’s not jumping the gun if I have ‘mostly’ finished the epilogue. In my opinion, the blurb is one of the most important parts of the marketing process and how one pitches one’s work.

What do you think of my blurb below? Would it hook you? Bear in mind that these are still the early days and the content is likely to change. Nevertheless, unlike the free stock image of this post (from pexels) my work is still copyrighted.

“That is one thing that they never tell you in the great sagas, indeed the great poets always omitted that, even Homer. Oh yes, I remember how he tells of Achilles and his dragging the corpse of the slain Hector around the walls of Ilium, and his depictions of battle were quite vivid. But not even the boasting Roman soldier on leave tells you about how they lie there when it is over, even when he is most thoroughly drunk…”

When Gaius Veturius Drusus hears the hooves of the messenger approach his estate, he knows instinctively that it brings bad tidings. Perhaps it was something about the way the sound of the galloping hooves stirred within him memories which he had hoped to bury, or the sweating and panting of both horse and rider as they approached him with the message.

Having retired comfortably in Roman Britain as a discharged veteran and having exercised his right to marry the first non-Roman citizen upon discharge, Drusus has settled into a quiet life on his estate with his long-time lover and now wife, Brigid of the Dobunni. He has formally adopted their daughters into his new household and has begun to earn the respect of the people who look up to him for leadership, both Roman and Briton alike.

Now, with the razing of the provincial capital, Camulodunum and the Governor of Roman Britain ordering all available veterans to return to service with the utmost urgency, Drusus must put aside his aspirations to raise a household and take up arms again.

The uncertainty of his future and the acts of savagery committed by both occupiers and rebels during the uprising are disturbing and unmerciful, and one thing is for certain: life will never be the same for him, his colleagues and his family ever again.

Janus was a two-faced god, a deity who represented many aspects of life including duality. Having two faces allowed him to look at the past, and face the future. Gaius Veturius Drusus is both a soldier and a loving father – a man who lives by the sword as well as his convictions, a man who has to face the atrocities of war, and come to terms with the battle he fights within: how to live with one face instead of two.

The Bibliography Grows!

In my attempts to make my work in progress more authentic, the bibliography has had a few extra titles added to it:

  • Stoicism for Beginners by Kevin Garnett
  • Literature and Religion in Ancient Rome by Dennis Feeney
  • Infamy: The Crimes of Ancient Rome by Jerry Toner
  • Roman Religion by John Scheid
  • The Religious Experience of the Roman People W. Warde Fowler
  • De Brevitate Vitae by Lucius Seneca (If Gaius probably read it, then so should I!)

Oh my! Now I need to add in some of Cassius Dio’s embellishments for dramatic effect when I get the manuscripts back from my loyal beta readers!

For now, it is simply relief to have finished the first draft and to be able to take a short break before the editing process begins.

Please enjoy some photos that I took whilst in Caesarea in Israel (where the story progresses to in one of later novels) until then πŸ™‚

The Historical Fiction Update

Oh wow! I think that I am going to spend all year working on these two novellas! I intend to release them in 2021 as polished, proper and as true to the time period as I can possibly do so, yet without neglecting to put forward compelling – if contrasting – narratives.

“Janus Pater” should be the first novella, or so I am inclined to believe at present. I intend to show the readers the Boudicca Rebellion through the eyes of a Roman centurion returning to service. Gaius Veturius Drusus will haveto come to terms with his situation and not let his frailties shine through if he is to see himself and those under his care through such a trying conflict! Janus was – to the Romans – the two-faced god of time, transitions and duality. Pater is Latin for father.

Please don’t hesitate to read up on this conflict for yourself: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boudica.

Boudica was a woman who stood up to (albeit viciously – if historical accounts are to be believed) an invading society with extremely different values to her own! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npwM2touF08

The second novella will (most likely) be titled, “The Autumn Road” and it will follow the experiences and personal growth of Isolde, a young British woman who is taken as a slave by a Roman centurion after the fall of the Iceni capital town. Most often, people forget that civilians have always had to pay the terrible toll of warfare. Bear in mind that this was very much so before two millennia.

My updated reading list is as follows:

  • Dobson, B. (1955) The primipilares of the Roman army, Durham theses, Durham University. Available at Durham E-Theses Online: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/8434/
  • Evans, M.M (2004) The Defeat of Boudica’s Rebellion, Osprey Publishing, Oxford
  • Coello, Terence Arnold (1995). Unit sizes in the Late Roman army. PhD thesis The Open University.
  • D’amato & Summer (2009) Arms and Armour of the Imperial Roman Soldier, Volume 1, Pen and Sword Books Ltd.
  • Chivers-Wilson KA. Sexual assault and posttraumatic stress disorder: a review of the biological, psychological and sociological factors and treatments.Β Mcgill J Med. 2006;9(2):111‐118.

This is only the beginning though, as one must be fully aware of who one’s characters are and how their experiences shape them in order to portray them with the correct character depth. A reader should also be prepared not to judge my characters as one would judge people in a modern situation. I feel that the world of our ancestors was so vastly different from our own and I am attempting to portray this!

The Bibliography (at present)

I do not believe that there is a viable way for me – as one who does not work in the fields of archaeology or classical civilizations full-time – to constructive a narrative worthy of the historical fiction genre without a substantial amount of research.

Here is my reading last up until now (no it is NOT in any academic format):

  • The Roman Invasion of Britain: Archaeology versus History, Birgitta Hoffman
  • Legions of Rome, Stephen Dando-Collins
  • Re-Kindling History, Boudica – Queen of the Iceni, David Carl Schafers
  • Roman Centurions 31 BC – AD 500, Raffaele D’Amato
  • Roman Army Units of the Western Provinces (1), 31 BC – AD 195, Raffaele D’Amato
  • Roman Britain, Henry Freeman
  • Lectures and Fragments, Gaius Musonius Rufus
  • Complete Tactitus Anthology (Agricola), Gaius Cornelius Tacitus
  • The Annals (Various parts pertaining to my setting), Gaius Cornelius Tacitus
  • De Bello Gallico, Gaius Julius Caesar
  • Legio XX, Valeria Victrix, Stephen James Malone
  • A Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (I need to see more of the ‘1st person present’ style)
  • I, Claudius, Robert Greaves (‘1st person past’ is also relevant as is the setting)
  • Eats, Shoots and Leaves (Lynn Truss)

Needless to say that this is only the tip of the iceberg. The trick though, is to immerse readers into an entirely different world to the one they know without making it seem like a boring history lesson!

The Boleyn Countess

Well, if my own novella is still in the works, I am proud to say that my mother’s work of historical fiction is still in publication and doing the rounds!

It is a novella based on the life of Lady Elizabeth Howard, mother of Anne Boleyn and it is told from her point of view. Those who are familiar with Tudor history will recognise Anne Boleyn as a former Queen of England and second wife of King Henry VIII. Alas, it would be most unfair for me to give a review of a novella written by my mother (five stars – obviously!), but I do recommend it as a more than worthy read for any fans of historical fiction or the Tudor period of England.

  • On Facebook, one can find Deborah Findlay @debswriting

It is a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The First Post

This post is an introduction to my website as an author. I have recently pulled a historical fiction novelette of mine from a publisher and am in the finishing stages of a fantasy novella. The time has come to place my writing blogs and any updates related to my publications on a separate website.

finphoto.net is still active and I am posting fairly frequently regarding my photographic exploits and endeavours, having now moved over to being a Sole Proprietor of “Findlay Photography and Digital Services.”

I decided to re-post and brand my publications separately for both my own convenience and for that of exploring surfers, hence the purpose of this site which I will be developing over the coming months.