Saturday, 18 December 2010

Blood oath


I haven't really said very much about the book about Roman Britain I have been writing. It is for Pearson Education and is called Blood Oath. It is set in 180AD on and around Hadrian's Wall.

The book was written to a brief, in that a request came through my agent from Ben Hulme-Cross at Pearson to write a book designed for teenagers with low reading abilities for a series called Heroes. They wanted books that would excite and engage fifteen year old boys, written in a clear and concise style that they would be able to access.

To be fair, they probably came to me with horror in mind, but I saw an opportunity to return to historical fiction. I had been interested in writing something set on Hadrian's Wall ever since we walked the Wall a couple of years ago.

My interest in Roman Britain is deeper than that though. I lived in Newcastle from the age of nine to when I left for college aged eighteen. We walked the Wall on a day trip from my junior school and, that visit, combined with a love of Rosemary Sutcliff, sparked an enthusiasm that has never diminished.

My own son is also obsessed with the Romans. He had a computer game about them, he played with models of them, has a fine collection of books about them and his interest played a big part in his taking Latin as an after school club. He also read Eagle of the Ninth recently and we are both looking forward to the movie next year.

The plot of Blood Oath is one of revenge essentially. A boy - Raven - from a village north of the Wall sees his father killed in a raid by another tribe and swears revenge. He and his mother take refuge in a garrison town next to a fort on the Wall where she too is killed, by robbers. Raven joins the Roman Army and eventually comes face to face with the man who killed his father. It is very violent and fast-paced.

The nature of the project means that the book had to be short - only 25000 words - with short chapters (each of about 1000 words). It was quite an epic to fit into that space, but that was half the fun of it.

More about Blood Oath later. . .

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