Roma Nova world building (2)

green fields_smWhat does Roma Nova look like?
It’s an alpine country with lower lying valleys a few small towns (Castra Lucilla, Brancadorum, Aquae Caesaris) and a river city full of columns, a forum, Senate house and temples.

Rome walkabout - 51



Roma Novans don’t have a different name for their capital; like the ancients, they just call in “the city”.


Rome walkabout - 21




The original Roman architecture from the late fourth century is surrounded by  buildings from the intervening centuries, so you’ll see medieval, Renaissance, Biedermeir (Regency in English) and later. More photos here.


If it’s not a real country, how did you dream it up?
Sadly, you can’t use Google maps to view Roma Nova’s geography from space nor load a Wikipedia page for its history. But inventing a country doesn’t mean you can throw any old facts into your book. They have to hang together.

InheritanceRomebookIf you look back to when those first Roman dissidents left Italy in AD 395 and trekked north to found Roma Nova, you can find out quite a bit about Roman life and culture at that time. This gives you a starting point: their mindset, their customs, their concerns, their ways of doing things. For instance, the first chapters of Christopher Wickham’s book The Inheritance of Rome draws a clear and detailed picture.

Pompeii gladius copy


With the Roma Nova books, I’ve used terms that people might already know like the Roman sword, gladius, greeting such as salve, solidi as money, ranks like legate and centurion. But I’ve made the gladius carbon steel, the solidi have currency notes and debit cards as well as coins, and I’ve mixed in other European military ranks such as captain. It gives a sense of history that’s gone forward and adapted to the modern age.

Ancient Romans were fabulous engineers and technologists, organised and determined to apply practical solutions to the needs of their complex and demanding civilisation, so I’ve positioned them in the 21st century at the forefront of the communications and digital revolutions.

SilvernuggetUSGOVThe silver mines and processing industry that underpinned Roma Nova’s early economy, and still play an extremely important role in 21st century Roma Nova, are another allusion to ancient Rome. Silver was a big reason the Romans wanted Britannia.  Dacia (Romania) and Noricum (Austria) in central Europe were of special significance, as they were very rich in high quality deposits.

adria1Giving Roma Nova silver deposits provides a plausible reason for its economic survival through the ages.  I also needed mountains, a river, land where farmers could work vineyards, grow olives, wheat and vegetables, and raise animals. I also wanted my imaginary  country to be near  Italy and Austria.  So it had to be in south central Europe. In the end I pinched Slovenia as my model.

 This and the previous post give you a glimpse into the world of Roma Nova. What else would you like to know?



Updated 2018: Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO,  PERFIDITAS,  SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA,  INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO.  CARINA, a novella, is available now.  Audiobooks are available for the first four of the series.

Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, FREE as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be first to know about Roma Nova news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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