Sci-Festival Interview 6 with Alison Morton

Alison Morton has just released her second novel in the Roma Nova series, but today we’re talking about the first, Inceptio! Alison is offering some copies of Inceptio for our next giveaway, which will open on Monday.


How did you get into writing Sci-Fi/Fantasy?
Ever since I cowered behind the sofa watching the Daleks on Dr Who, I’ve been fascinated by sci-fi. I was a big fan of Robert Heinlein and have always been a Trekker. And then I discovered alternate history…

Which is the first aspect of a story you usually plan? The plot, the setting, or the characters?
A book must have a solid plot, with a purpose, but the characters come first. Stories are about people, their interaction with each other and how they tackle problems, both internal and external. The setting is almost a character in that it introduces restraints on the living characters and well as opportunities for off-the-wall developments, plus it can be the cause or solution of challenges faced by the characters. But without the plot a book is nothing and it’s the characters who push the story along and through the twists and turns.

If you had to say that your stories were Sci-Fi/Fantasy crossed with something, what would it be?
As alternate history thrillers INCEPTIO and its sequel, PERFIDITAS, cross several genres which makes for interesting marketing! Alternate (or alternative) history straddles sci-fi and history; some “althist” stories are surreal – no other world for it – others are the result of a tiny twitch of history. Set in an imaginary Roma Nova which has survived sixteen hundred years and retained its Roman identity and culture, but with a feminist twist, my stories probably veer more toward the historical end. And the thriller? I love a good action story!

What, or who, would you say is your greatest influence in your writing?
The four authors who influenced my writing are Rosemary Sutcliff (The Eagle of the Ninth), Anne MCaffrey (Dragonriders of Pern, Killishandra, The Rowan), Lindsey Davies (Falco Roman detective series) and the great Robert Harris, the author of the wonderful alternate history thriller, Fatherland.

How did you come up with the idea for the book you’ve listed here?
I was on holiday in north-east Spain one summer. I was eleven and fascinated by the mosaics in the Roman part of Ampurias (a huge Graeco-Roman site). I wanted to know who had made them, whose houses they were in, who had walked on them.

After my father explained about traders, senators, power and families, I tilted my head to one side and asked him, “What would it be like if Roman women were in charge, instead of the men?” Maybe it was the fierce sun boiling my brain, maybe early feminism surfacing or maybe it was just a precocious kid asking a smartass question. But clever man and senior ‘Roman nut’, my father replied, “What do you think it would be like?” That bubbled away in my head for several decades until I became a writer.

What was your proudest moment in the creation of this book?
I was awe-struck when I first saw the beautiful gold and imperial purple cover of INCEPTIO; I realized the scribbles from my over-active imagination were actually going to become a real book. However, I think the proudest moment was standing in Waterstones in my home town in front of over fifty people with my friend broadcaster Sue Cook to support me, and launching INCEPTIO. And afterwards they queued up and bought copies!

Have there been any points that had you doubting yourself? How did you get past them?
Oh, yes! I went on courses, including one run by the prestigious Arvon Foundation, took professional advice, worked with a mentor and a critique group. One day – 10 May 2011 – when I had three conflicting expert pieces of advice, I said, “Enough is enough. I will take all the advice but make my own decisions.” Carpe diem, as we Romans say.

What is your favourite aspect of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres?
The ability to imagine outside the constraints of current reality, in other words, to boldly go…

What is the element you like the least about the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres?
Silliness, oddness for the sake of it and easy ways out of problems thanks entirely to an implausible weapon or widget. Oh, and infodumps.

Discounting ‘because I’d have made a lot of money’ (if that is the case,) which Sci-Fi or Fantasy book/tv series/film do you wish you’d written, and why?
Cheesy, but I’d love to have thought of Star Trek – it was subversive in a politically paranoid time and broke ground on gender, race, political values, respect of other cultures and of each other. And the costumes were cool.


Alison Morton writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with strong heroines, and reads anything with a gripping story and engaging characters.

A deep-steeped ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she holds a masters’ in history and lives in France with her husband. Her favourite films are unapologetically sci-fi.

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series, was shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award and awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM in September 2013. PERFIDITAS, was published October 2013.  Alison is working on the third book SUCCESSIO.

See more from Alison:


BRAG_INCEPTIONew York, present day, alternate reality. Karen Brown, angry and frightened after a kidnap attempt, has a choice – being eliminated by government enforcer Jeffery Renschman or fleeing to mysterious Roma Nova, her dead mother’s homeland in Europe.

Founded sixteen centuries ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women, Roma Nova gives Karen safety, at a price, and a ready-made family. Just as she’s finding her feet, a shocking discovery about her new lover, special forces officer Conrad Tellus, isolates her.

But the enforcer has crossed to Europe to pursue her. Unable to rely on anybody else, she undergoes intensive training, develops fighting skills and becomes an undercover cop. But crazy with bitterness at his past failures, Renschman sets a trap for her, knowing she has no choice but to spring it…

You can buy INCEPTIO here:
Your local Amazon: 
Nook UK


About chelecooke

Self-Published author of the Out of Orbit series and the Teeth series. UCL Residence Assistant, obsessive cross stitcher, avid reader and TV show watcher.
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2 Responses to Sci-Festival Interview 6 with Alison Morton

  1. Thank you so much for inviting me to take part in the sci-fest. Looking forward to sending out INCEPTIO paperbacks to the giveaway winners.

  2. Pingback: Sci-Festival Rounds Out With Hugh Howey | Eliza Green Books

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