A Year of Ravens: A Novel of Boudica's Rebellionby Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, E. Knight, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, S.J.A. Turney, and Russell Whitfield
Publication Date: November 13, 2015
Knight Media LLC
eBook & Paperback; 440 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | ITUNES
About the authors:
A Year of Ravens Authors
Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, E. Knight, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, S.J.A. Turney, & Russell Whitfield
Ruth Downie: http://ruthdownie.com/
SJA Turney: http://www.sjaturney.co.uk/
Kate Quinn: http://www.katequinnauthor.com/
Russell Whitfield: http://www.russellwhitfield.com/
Stephanie Dray: http://www.stephaniedray.com/
Eliza Knight: http://www.elizaknight.com/
Vicky Alvear Shecter: www.vickyalvearshecter.com
A Year of Ravens: A Novel of Boudica’s Rebellion is a collaborative novel, which means seven authors worked together to tell individual stories with shared characters. The result is an inspired novel with unusual depth. Four of the seven authors shared their insights and experiences--Ruth Downie, bestselling UK author of the Ruso/Medicus series, SJA Turney (Simon), U.K. author of the popular series, Marius’ Mules, Kate Quinn, American author of the bestselling Empress of Rome series, and Vicky Alvear Shecter, American author of Cleopatra’s Moon and Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii. The other authors in the collaboration include Stephanie Dray, author of America’s First Daughter, Russell Whitfield, author of the Gladiatrix series, and Eliza Knight, author of My Lady Viper.
1. Who or what inspired you to start writing?
RUTH - The need to hide from changing nappies and studying Double Entry Bookkeeping.
SIMON - The daily tedium of computer network management and a love of ancient Rome.
KATE - A Kings and Queens of England paper dolls book, which inspired me at 7 to write a short story about the assassination of Edward II.
VICKY - Greek mythology and Mary Renault.
STEPHANIE - My grandmother used to lock me in the backseat of the car with my cousins and I had to tell them stories to keep them entertained. True story.
RUSS: Donna Gillespie and David Gemmell. I loved their work so much that it got me over the “I want to write a novel” statement to actually managing to finish one. True inspirations and legends both.
ELIZA - I should have been born into royalty, or at the very least a noble… Ok, I’d settle for being a time traveler because I love to live in the past!
2. What do you do to help you get over writer's block?
RUTH - I need a deadline imposed by somebody else. I also have to remind myself that writing rubbish is better than writing nothing.
SIMON - I walk the dogs. Or go sit in a pub on my own. My great epiphanies always come to me when I’m alone and usually in one of those circumstances.
KATE - I remind myself that dentists don’t get to say “I have dentist’s block today” and stay home from work, so neither can I.
VICKY - I walk and mumble to myself, scaring the neighbors.
STEPHANIE - Writer’s block is usually born of fear that you’re making a mistake or that you don’t have it right, so I get past it by giving myself permission to write dreck, knowing I will fix it later.
RUSS: I procrastinate. Loads.
ELIZA - Depends on my mood. Sometimes I force myself to write the worst drivel on the face of the earth because I can edit the crap out of it. Other times, I like to take a walk and breathe in the fresh air, watch nature--but only if its not raining. If it’s raining, I clean up clutter (for some reason clearing away the clutter of my environment helps clear the clutter in my mind).
3. Do you have scheduled writing time or a certain amount of words you write each day?
RUTH - No. And yes I do know that’s the wrong answer.
SIMON - I cut up my tale into daily chunks at the start and aim to complete each section on time.
KATE - I aim for 3,000 words a day, but don’t always get there.
VICKY - No, but deadlines are a great motivator.
STEPHANIE - I aim for 2,000 words a day because I’m not as ambitious as Kate Quinn with her 3k a Day routine, and yet I still fall short of that most days.
RUSS: I have a day job, so I don’t really have a schedule I can keep to. Though, saying to the family “I’m writing” gives me a good excuse to play Rome Total War, so everyone’s a winner.
ELIZA - Both! I start writing as soon as the little princesses are off to school, typically around 8:30am. Depending on the day, I have until 2:45 when the oldest returns and refuses to let me concentrate. I aim for 2500 words a day. If I’m behind on a deadline, then I will write from about 6am to midnight completely ignoring all living thing in my home, and they are ok with that because it means lots of pizza and no chores.
4. Where do you get your ideas for your books?
RUTH - The location – I can’t find the story unless I know where it happens.
SIMON - As Ruth said, location is much of it. Or a fascinating and little-known event.
KATE - Narnia. Or maybe Walmart, aisle seven. (Really, I have no idea.)
VICKY - It changes every time--sometimes it’s a person, sometimes it’s a weird fact.
STEPHANIE - My stories used to come looking for me; lately I go looking for them. I choose a marketable time period or a person who fascinates me.
RUSS: Whatever I can to rip off on a given day... I’m such a plagiarist I offend even myself. No- Documentaries, I think - most of the ideas I’ve had come watching the History Channel (before it became the stupid-blokes selling-or-refurbishing-second-hand-stuff-Channel). I’ll see something and think: “That’d be ace!”
ELIZA - I have an imaginary basket filled with genius ideas! Well, I wish that were the case… I love reading about history, inevitably, a story will come to me while researching for fun.
5. When you are not writing what do you like to do?
RUTH - Delve in mud with an archaeological trowel.
SIMON - Armchair archaeology for me. Like Ruth but with much less mud, less skill, more Google Earth and much more coffee.
KATE - Cheer the Boston Red Sox. Not as far removed from ancient Rome as you’d think. Fenway Park in full cry sounds like the Colosseum baying for blood.
VICKY - Read mostly. Or hang out in museums.
STEPHANIE: I love to watch television shows and movies. I’m discovering a love of housework because it uses up a different part of my brain!
RUSS: Pretend to write so I can avoid watching Australian MasterChef, X-Factor and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! with the family.
ELIZA: I love to watch television (I'm obsessed... It might be unhealthy because I can literally sit for hours...) I also like to read, to visit historical sites/museums, go to wine tastings, and to cook. But, especially, I enjoy spending time with my family, they are hilarious and I get a huge kick out of being with them.
6. What one piece of advice would you like to give to aspiring writers?
RUTH - Find friends who write – it’s easy to get discouraged but you can support each other.
SIMON - Read your era. I know many writers don’t for fear of being influenced, but I think it can really feed your imagination and your depth of feeling for the time and place.
KATE - What Ruth said. Writer friends will save your sanity.
VICKY - Read, read, read and then read some more.
STEPHANIE - Don’t be afraid to throw everything out and start again!
RUSS: Screw anyone that says you can’t - yourself included. You can. We did. So can you.
ELIZA - Don’t give up! Write EVERYDAY, even if it’s 5 words. Surround yourself with people who support you and encourage you and don’t mind if you spend hours on end talking about the same characters/setting or if you happen to occasionally speak “medieval”--yes, I do.
7. Who is your favorite author or book that you would like to recommend to your readers?
RUTH - I’m totally in love with Arkady Renko, Martin Cruz Smith’s Russian detective who first appeared in “Gorky Park”. Cool, courageous, honourable, and tragically misunderstood.
SIMON - Anything by Guy Gavriel Kay. And I mean anything. If he wrote a manual for a DVD player it would be atmospheric, exotic and filled with tragic epicness.
KATE - I’d sacrifice a limb to write like Bernard Cornwell. Epic, moving, funny, and historically accurate; he’s got it all.
VICKY - I’m a huge fan of Geraldine Brooks and Neil Gaiman.
STEPHANIE - I can’t pick a favorite, but I would like to recommend anything by my co-authors for A YEAR OF RAVENS because they are all talented people who are a joy to work with.
RUSS: Blimey. Loads. I have to mention Riches and Kane cos they’d beat me up next time I saw them if I didn’t. The aforementioned David Gemmell and Donna Gillespie, Christian Cameron - he really upsets me with his awesomeness. Such a brilliant writer. I feel like I’m at the Oscars and the music has started playing...
ELIZA - I love Margaret George. I read her autobiography of Henry VIII when I was 14, and became obsessed. I also read Pillars of the Earth that year by Ken Follett, and fell head over heels for medieval.
8. If you could meet any famous person dead or alive who would it be and why?
RUTH - Sabina, wife of the emperor Hadrian. They were reputed to loathe each other, but they were married for over thirty years. I’d like to know how that worked.
SIMON - Caligula for me. I have long held that he was far from mad, just misunderstood and later much maligned. I’d love to confirm it. Of course, I’d like to have a .357 magnum with me in case I’m wrong!
KATE - Elizabeth I. That’s a lady whose brain I’d love to pick.
VICKY - Alexander the Great (while wearing a “Hephaistion is Hot” t-shirt).
STEPHANIE - Cleopatra Selene, so that I could ask how close to the truth I got when it came to writing her life story, magical realism aside.
RUSS: Jesus. That’d be interesting. I would have said Alexander, but I don’t think he’d be a nice person. A bit like Simon Cowell - same psychotic drive for world domination, only Alexander had an army of hardened killers at his back and Cowell has Cheryl Fernandez-Vasini. Clearly, more terrifying than the phalanx.
ELIZA - Oh, don’t make me pick!!! There are so many! But, if I had to choose, I would have liked to have met Henry VIII, when he was young and hot, and I’d like to ask him if he saw himself as a gross, angry, mean man who would have six wives, then I’d charm him into singing, Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived, just for fun! We’d drink and be merry and of course he wouldn’t execute me for my impertinence.
9. If you could visit anywhere in the world where would you like to visit?
RUTH - The parts of Herculaneum that are only accessible through people’s cellars.
SIMON - Currently, sadly, that slot is filled by all the parts of the ancient Middle East under Daesh control. I fear for the survival of every single brick and would have loved to have seen the arch at Palmyra before it was demolished.
KATE - Rome. But not Rome as it is today, which I’ve seen. I want to see Rome at the height of the Empire.
VICKY - Rome, Egypt and Greece.
STEPHANIE - The cradle of the ancient world always calls to me. Rome, Egypt, the Middle East. However, more recently, I have a serious desire to visit France.
RUSS: I’d actually like to get to the local pub more often. That or Sparta. I’d like to go there too.
ELIZA - I have been lucky enough to travel to many places. My grandparents lived in France when I was growing up, so I ran through the gardens of Versailles for the first time when I was 8. But one place I’ve not yet gone is London! I’d go to the pub with Russ, lol.
10. 5 interesting facts about yourself
1. I have no sense of smell. So the nappies weren’t that bad really.
2. oI appeared as a speck in the distance on Time Team’s “Big Roman Dig”.
3. I’ve also been filmed chatting with a lampstand. They were short of extras and it was behind frosted glass, so they thought nobody would notice that one of us was very spindly and silent.
4. I once broke a bone in my foot by falling off a pair of sensible shoes.
5. And while we’re on footwear - I once turned up to work wearing pink fluffy slippers. I spotted the mistake during the bike ride to the station, but it was wear the slippers or miss the train.
1. I was filmed by the BBC helping to build a reconstructed trilithon of Stonehenge for a program, but was mostly hidden behind a friend’s Hawaiian shorts.
2. When alone in a Roman amphitheatre (happens more often than you’d think) I reenact moments from Gladiator. I am always Commodus. ‘Am I not merciful?’
3. My first music gig I ever saw was The Monkees, backed by Peter Sarstedt.
4. I have an obsession with Boba Fett. Seriously.
5. I want to own a Roman fort. Preferably Greta Bridge, as ¼ of it is occupied by a good pub!
1. I trained as an opera singer, and I still have a ringing high C.
2. I first saw “I, Claudius” at 8 or so, and wanted to be Empress Livia. I knew she was Very Bad, but reasoned it would be worth being Very Bad if I just had her ability to quip.
3. I am owned by two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia.
4. I can mimic any accent I hear. It’s a nice party trick, except that I can’t turn it off and I end up in a drawl all night because I got stuck next to someone from Kentucky.
5. I’m apparently part polar bear, because I am never cold. Ever.
1. I lived in Ecuador when I was very young.
2. I once took a stand-up comedy class and had to perform at a bar (Opening joke: I’m half-Spanish and half-Jewish, which means I have a big butt and I feel really guilty about it).
3. I’m a type 1 diabetic and wear an insulin pump.
4. I’ve held Roman funerals for dead fish with my kids, including mini-pyres, libations and gladiator funeral games with puppets.
5. I love dogs so much that I have a tendency to throw myself on the floor to play with them when I meet them, often to the horror of people who don’t know me well.
1. I used to be a lawyer but decided that if I wanted to tell lies for a living I’d rather write fiction.
2. I must wear shoes at all times when awake. If you see me barefooted, I’m deathly ill.
3. I sometimes speak aloud in the voice of my characters while I’m writing.
4. My ability to speak in coherent sentences diminishes frightfully when I’m in the presence of someone I admire.
5. I’m Italian-American, which means I hug a lot, have a hot temper, talk with my hands, and will not eat at the Olive Garden except under duress.
1: I wrote a song for an all female heavy metal band called “Hysterica.” The song (“Spirit of the Age”) is on their second album.
2: In the 80s, I used to work as sound technician. One day, John Hurt came to the studio to do a voiceover and I went on and on about Alien and Aliens. He took me out on the lash and told me the now famous story that no-one really knew what was going to happen in the chest-burster scene. And none of my mates believed me.
3: I got mugged and nearly kidnapped in Turkey. On the same night.
4: I have both bungee jumped and done a Tough Mudder event. And have no idea why people would do that sort of thing more than once.
5: Cyclists turn me into Jeremy Clarkson. Nothing annoys me more than a bunch of supercilious MAMILs taking up the entire road whilst being ecologically sound. Next to a massive park. Bastards.
1. When my kids are being irritating, I insist they call me Majesty to appease my ire.
2. I kissed the Blarney Stone even though I know for a fact the local lads pee all over it… I had to. That is all.
3. I BELIEVE in ghosts. There is currently one in my basement.
4. When I was 13, I was attacked by a horde of deer who pinned me against a wall and nipped at my skin.
5. When I was a teenager I was an actress at a local stage, and I even got to be an extra in a movie.
Blog Tour Schedule
Friday, November 13 Kick Off at Passages to the Past
Saturday, November 14 Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Saturday, November 14 Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Sunday, November 15 Review at Book Babe
Monday, November 16 Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, November 17 Review at Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, November 18 Guest Post at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, November 18 Interview at Unabridged Chick
Thursday, November 19 Review at Kinx's Book Nook
Thursday, November 19 Review at A Bookish Affair
Friday, November 20 Review at Leeanna.me
Monday, November 23 Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Tuesday, November 24 Review at The Maiden's Court
Wednesday, November 25 Review at A Book Drunkard
Friday, November 27 Review & Excerpt at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Monday, November 30 Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, December 1 Review at Griperang's Bookmarks
Wednesday, December 2 Interview at Griperang's Bookmarks
Thursday, December 3 Review at Book Nerd
Friday, December 4 Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book
Saturday, December 5 Review at Bookramblings
Monday, December 7 Review at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, December 8 Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Wednesday, December 9 Review at I'm Shelfish
Thursday, December 10 Review at Boom Baby Reviews
Friday, December 11 Review at Historical Readings & Reviews
Monday, December 14 Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Tuesday, December 15 Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Wednesday, December 16 Review at A Literary Vacation
Wednesday, November 16 Guest Post at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Thursday, December 17 Review at The True Book Addict
Thursday, December 17 Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Friday, December 18 Review at Broken Teepee
Friday, December 18 Review, Excerpt, & Interview at Unshelfish
During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a Celtic inspired set of silver tone metal and red Swarovski crystal beads, including a necklace, bracelet, and earrings inspired by the setting of A Year of Ravens! Please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to residents in the US and UK. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. A Year of Ravens