Stephanie Dray and A Year of Ravens

Stephanie DrayMy third guest  in the ‘Ravens’ series is Stephanie Dray, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the Historical Novel Society conference in Denver this summer. Stephanie is a bestselling, multi-published author of historical women’s fiction and fantasy. Her critically acclaimed historical series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into more than six different languages. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer and teacher.

A Year of Ravens was written in collaboration with E. Knight, Ruth Downie, Russell Whitfield, SJA Turney, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter and features seven stories set in the Boudican revolt in Britain 60/61 AD.

Britannia: land of mist and magic clinging to the western edge of the Roman Empire. A red-haired queen named Boudica led her people in a desperate rebellion against the might of Rome, an epic struggle destined to consume heroes and cowards, young and old, Roman and Briton. A Year of Ravens is 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?

A Year of Ravens cover‘Ravens’ came out last week and is going like a hot cake. I suggest you buy  it. (Amazon UKAmazon US)

Stephanie’s story is about Cartimandua, Queen of the Brigantes and client of Rome; the surprising thing was that the Romans treated with her at all as she stood for everything against Roman societal norms. She was clever in keeping her people neutral and safe and led a stable and peaceful kingdom (queendom?) for twenty years, whilst the much of Britain was under direct Roman rule. She is remembered negatively for handing over Caratacus to the Romans. Read Stephanie’s story for a different slant…

Welcome to Roma Nova, Stephanie! 

Why does Boudicca have an enduring attraction?
For me, the attraction of Boudica’s story is that Romans never seemed to expect women to fight back against them, and it was their blindness in this area that was so often their undoing. Having written several books about Cleopatra’s daughter, I’m fascinated by the twisted relationship Rome had to powerful women, so I’m always drawn to powerful ancient queens who either got in Rome’s way–or learned to get along with them.

Were the group of authors self-selected or chosen? And how did you find working together?
After A Day of Fire, we knew we wanted to get the band back together and work on another collaboration, but because of other professional obligations, Ben Kane and Sophie Perinot couldn’t participate. That gave us an opportunity to reach out to some of our favorite writers. And we’re so glad that we did, because Russ, Simon and Ruth were aces to work with. Each of them brought unique strengths and talents to the project, and they were enormously patient with our brash American ways. Simon’s story in particular features a character that we all ended up using, forcing him to have to tinker every time one of us changed anything in our own stories. Somehow, he did not kill us. In the end, everyone was really dedicated to making the best overall book we could, together. No egos involved. It was very democratic. A lovely experience that makes me feel so honored to have been a part of it.

What do you think is in it for the reader having such a diversity of author styles?
Hopefully, the reader will come away from the book with a different perspective on the entire rebellion than has ever been presented before. Each story is a different facet of a tragic clash of cultures. All of us have our own unique voices and ways of telling a story, but we were all aware of the specific job we needed to do. For example, Kate’s known for her humor and by the time you get to her story you’re going to need a laugh.

Will there be another book focusing on a different event?
We think so. Do you and your readers have a particular event you’d like to see us cover?

Great question! Answers below, please.


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

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

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