Thursday, 19 March 2009

Countdown to Claudius

Looking back on my last blog I was overly excited about the new book cover (the number of superlatives is a bit embarrassing). But see for yourselves and let me know what you think. I still think it's great!
I don't think Simon will mind if I also give you a sneak preview of the jacket cover words.
The year is 43AD . . .

In Southern England, Caratacus, war chief of the Britons, watches from a hilltop as the scarlet cloaks of the Roman legions spread across his lands like blood.

In Rome, Emperor Claudius, newly risen to the imperial throne, dreams of taking his place in history alongside his illustrious forebears Caesar and Augustus.

Among the legions marches Rufus, keeper of the Emperor’s elephant. War is coming and the united tribes of Britain will make a desperate stand against the might of Rome. The emperor has a very special place for Rufus and his elephant in the midst of the battle – as a secret weapon to cow the Britons with the visible manifestation of Rome’s power.

Claudius is a masterful telling of one of the greatest stories from Roman history, the conquest of Britain. It is an epic story of ambition, courage, conspiracy, battle and bloodshed, and confirms Douglas Jackson as one of the best historical novelists writing today.
So there you are. I'm not sure I recognise the writer, but it can't be bad. can it?
Spring is definitely here. I've just been out for a run in the sunshine and it was great. There's an area outside Bridge of Allan called the Carse of Lecropt, which is basically the flood plain of the Forth and the Teith. It's dead flat and about five miles of lovely countryside surrounded by hills and Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument.
I've been beavering away at book 3, but still no word yet of a new deal. In the odd spare moment I've also been reading another Roman novel, Ship of Rome. It's very educational, both in a historical sense and as a writer. The author has gone into huge detail about Roman ships, armour and units and for someone who's interested in that sort of thing it's a good read. When I was writing Caligula and Claudius I took a decision not to go into the kind of detail too often where you give the Latin name of say a piece of weaponry and then describe it, it's use and its manufacture, because I thought it slowed the book down. Reading this book has made me wonder whether maybe I was wrong and there's a judicious case for a bit more. Something to think about.
I'm still wondering how the paperback of Caligula is doing, but I refuse to be drawn back into the Amazon game. There seems to be a steady turnover in the WH Smiths at Waverley Station and Waterstone's in Stirling were sold out the last time my wife Alison was there, but we'll just have to wait and see.
Thanks again for your kind words, Lexi, Andrea and Shirley ... and Shirley, you'll have the first copy I can lay my hands on.

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