What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Forced to Fight (Rise of the Horse King Volume 1)?
This is my fourth novel about Ancient Rome. My first novel was a cross time story about Ancient and modern Rome In a Time Before, which I wrote after my first visit to Rome, I began writing the second series Victim of the Arena with my son after spending time in several arenas in Italy and visiting with members of the Gruppo Storico Romano re-enactment group in Rome. I decided to write this series Rise of the Horse King, after my wife and I took a cruise on the Danube River in the same general area of Ancient Getae and spent time at several sites dedicated to chariot racing discussing racing techniques with a racing expert.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
As a kid in sixth grade, I caught the writing bug. From that moment on, I wrote every chance I had. First came English classes during which I mainly wrote sci-fi stories even when the teacher suggested other prompts. Then in high school, because of Latin classes, I began to create stories of battles between the legionnaires and barbarians.
Years passed, and after two kids arrived, I decided to write a novel. My first attempt was a knock-off of the Mouse That Roared and earned a stack of rejection slips for my lack of effort. For the next twenty years, I reverted to reading my original loves of sci-fi and Ancient Rome. Finally, after retiring from my third or fourth job, I wrote a sci-fi story. My librarian wife informed me that the book might be a reasonable high school novel. My problem was I hoped she would call it “the great American sci-fi story.”
Then my wife suggested, “Why don’t you write a story about your true love…Ancient Rome.” So I did and have now written several. I hope my readers enjoy reading them as much as I did letting my characters tell their stories.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
Probably not surprising for me, my top books are about ancient Rome. First on the list would be Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove’s book title HOUSEHOLD GODS. Also, a time travel vision of a woman who can’t stand her life and ends up as a bar owner in those bygone days.
The second would be any book by Steven Saylor concerning his ancient Rome characters. Then, at the same level, any book by Lindsey Davis. I own or have read everything she’s published in the genre.
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
I would have no difficulty in making a choice for this interview. Lindsey Davis would be my first guest. She wrote me a nice email wishing me well with the publication of my first novel. The first question I’d ask would be why she didn’t offer to read my book. Because I love her books so much, I wouldn’t even need her answer. I wouldn’t want her to stop writing more novels to take time to read mine.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
The short answer is where the books take me. I begin with a brief idea and then write a two-page outline which expands to ten or twelve. After that, I do my research before I start. The problem is that the characters take on a life of their own. As a result, what is written bears little comparison to my original outline. That’s fun!
What is a typical day like for you?
My days now revolve around writing, reading books about writing, and researching for my next book. It also seems that every time I turn around, I stumble over an idea for another story. My future book idea file contains so many one-page outlines that I’ll need to live to one-hundred and fifty to finish them all. For example, we were in Venice, Italy, during the hundred-year flood. During our stay, I wrote three short outlines of stories concerning that amazing city.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
Love one another and follow your passion.
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
First I hope they will learn something they didn’t know about Ancient Rome. However, my primary hope is that when they finish the novel they will feel it was a good read.
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