Kate Quinn and A Year of Ravens

Kate QuinnLast week, Russell Whitfield (long time supporter of Roma Nova) told us all about his new collaborative writing project, A Year of Ravens. One of his fellow authors is none other than Kate Quinn, whom I had the pleasure of welcoming to the blog along with the fascinating Vibia Sabina, The Lady of the Eternal City. Not only that, I was delighted (and rather thrilled) to meet Kate and her ‘gang’ (Sophie Perinot, Eliza Knight, Stephanie Dray and Vicky Alvear Schechter) at the Historical Novel Society Conference in Denver.

A Year of Ravens (Amazon UK, Amazon US) came out this week. I suggest you buy  it. Now. I’ll be posting my review later, but I do have to say I loved Kate’s story of the Celtic champion and the captured Roman noble, Valeria.  Shades of Carina and Aurelia Mitela for this lady’s tough-mindedness and determination in a grim situation! Britain in open, savage revolt wasn’t a safe place in any sense and the Valeria set to to make the best of her situation, something that Kate handled without sentimentality  but with great sensitivity.

A Year of Ravens coverA Year of Ravens A novel in seven parts, overlapping stories of warriors and peacemakers, queens and slaves, Romans and Britons who cross paths during Boudica’s epic rebellion. But who will survive to see the dawn of a new Britannia, and who will fall to feed the ravens?

I asked Kate the same questions as Russell and this is what she came up with…

Why does Boudicca have an enduring attraction and why did you choose it as the focus for this book?
It’s not easy picking a topic for a collaboration. You need a historical subject who will equally fascinate seven authors who write very different things; a subject who can provide grist for drama, action, pathos, romance, battle, humor, and everything in between. You need a subject that will hook male and female readers, people who love historical fiction and people who are new to it. Ideally you also want a subject with marquee appeal, a subject with recognition and draw in the name so all people have to do is see the cover to think “oooh!” In fitting all those qualifications, Boudica was a natural fit for us. As a wronged woman, a vengeful mother, a warrior queen, a freedom fighter, and the ultimate pissed-off red-head, she’s a  heroine any author can write about and any reader can cheer for.

Were the group of authors self-selected or chosen? And how did you find working together?
Ultimately this project was Eliza’s – she long had a dream of writing a solo book on Boudica’s daughters, but realize her jam-packed writing schedule wasn’t going to allow writing it, so she offered up the topic as a group project to the H Team. And while I’ll always wish I could read the book Eliza would have written on her own, I’m eternally grateful she allowed us to join her on this ride! We had a core four from the Pompeii project – Eliza, Stephanie, Vicky, and myself, and new spaces to fill after pre-existing deadlines took Ben and Sophie out of the line-up. Simon and I were just getting to know each other through social media after he read and reviewed our Pompeii book, so I cajoled him on board. Ruth and Russ were also natural fits; I’ve been a huge fan of their Ruso series and Gladiatrix trilogy respectively, and was so delighted they could join the team. All three of them have been just delightful to work with.

What do you think is in it for the reader having such a diversity of author styles?
A book like this lets all the writers play to their unique strengths. Stephanie writes devious and devastating political machinations with a human angle. Ruth examines the very human side of the Roman occupation and what it meant to live under foreign rule. Russ takes the young growing pains of a great leader and wraps them up in a lot of riveting gore and tragedy. Vicky examines superstition and religious strife and its fallout, and Si takes the immense bloody clash of two warring cultures and makes it deeply personal. I do my best to give the reader a few laughs, right in time for Eliza to do what she does best and tear your heart out with emotional pathos. There’s something for every reader here, whether you like fight scenes or love scenes, political drama or religious strife, witty banter or rousing speeches.

Will there be another book focusing on a different event?
Goodness, I hope so, because writing this book was about the most fun a writer could have and still call it work. We traded approximately three million emails and four million in-jokes, and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat!

Thank you, Kate!

Publication date was 17 November and you can order from Amazon UK and Amazon US now.

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, PERFIDITAS and SUCCESSIO. The fourth book, AURELIA, is now out.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines…

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