Friday, 26 September 2008

Living with Caligula

Off to the Wigtown Book Festival this weekend, not to appear, just to soak up the atmosphere.
We'll be staying at a holiday cottage with our friends John and Elaine and we're all booked to see Scots actor Bill Paterson talk about Tales from the Back Green his memoir of growing up in Glasgow in the 50s and 60s. I'll let you know how we got on next week.
I've been through the follow up to Caligula again this week, polishing here, cutting there, and, as always, wondering if it's as good as I can make it. It's the story of the Emperor Claudius's invasion of Britain in 43 AD seen through the eyes of Rufus, keeper of the Emperor's elephant and hero of Caligula. I had great fun writing it, especially the battle scenes, and there's some great stuff in it. Robert Graves created the popular vision of a drooling, crippled figure of fun in I, Claudius, which like most Roman novels has its origins in the works of Tacitus, Suetonius and Cassius Dio. Suetonius throws away the Claudian invasion in a couple of lines and calls it, rather disdainfully, a minor campaign. But the fragmentary remains of a commemorative arch in Rome say Claudius fought six battles and was hailed Imperator (victorious general) by his troops 22 times, which isn't bad going considering he was only in Britain for 16 days. I tell the story of how the cripple became a conqueror with a little help from his spymaster, Narcissus, and, of course, the Emperor's elephant.
There's also been interest this week in my crime book Brothers in Arms, and I was asked to put together synopses for another three novels based around the main characters. I've always had plans to do a series so I had them pretty much to hand and they're on their way. There's a real sense of excitement when you throw your work out into the world - you never know what kind of impact it's going to make!


Lexi said...

Bill Paterson used to live next door to me in Wallace Road, Islington.

He's a really good actor; it's always a pleasure when he crops up on television.

Lizziee said...

So pleased to hear the follow up is on its way and doing well. Tell them to get it into Spanish!!!