Monday, May 09, 2016

The Wolf of Britannia: Interview with historical fiction author Jess Steven Hughes



Jess Steven Hughes is a retired police detective sergeant with twenty-five years experience in criminal investigation and a former U.S. Marine. He holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration and a minor in Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations from the University of Southern California. He has traveled and studied extensively in the areas forming the background of this novel, which brings vivid authenticity to the unique settings for his historical novels, The Wolf of Britannia, Part I, The Wolf of Britannia, Part II, and The Sign of the Eagle. He currently lives with his wife, Liz, and their three horses in Eastern Washington. He is currently working on another historical novel from the First Century A.D.

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About the Book:

First Century AD Britain is a fragmented land of warring Celtic tribes, ripe for invasion by the juggernaut of imperial Rome. Knowing this, a young warrior, soon-to-be-legendary, Prince Caratacus, must unite the southern tribes if they are to survive. This is an enemy more cunning and
powerful then either he or Britain has ever faced.

Standing by him is his wife, Rhian, a warrior princess who takes no prisoners. She is the first woman he has truly loved. With her support and that of other allies, Caratacus must outsmart a traitorous brother who is determined to take the throne, aided by a conniving Roman diplomat and a tribal king in the pockets of the Romans.
                                 
Caratacus must save his country not only from the pending Roman onslaught but from his own peoples treachery.

Or else die trying.

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

First of all, I have always liked reading historical fiction, especially, stories about the ancient world. My minor in college was Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations, and I have traveled extensively throughout the Mediterranean world and Western Europe, including England.

One of the things I noticed in reading historical fiction was that there was little written on the British Celtic king, Caratacus, who fought the Romans when they invaded Britain in 43 A.D. The major Celtic character of the First Century A.D. that has been written about extensively was the British Iceni Queen, Boudicca. After she and her daughters were humiliated and raped by the Romans, she rebelled against Rome in 60 A.D. destroying a Roman legion and killing thousands of  British Romano sympathizers.

Yet, it was Caratacus who laid the ground work for this rebellion. He waged guerrilla warfare for eight years before he was betrayed and captured along with his wife and seven-year-old daughter (she is the main character in my first novel, The Sign of the Eagle). He and his family would survive the ordeal. However, we know little about him except what is written about him by the Roman historians, Tacitus and Cassius Dio. He has been mention extensive in modern history books dealing with the Roman invasion of Britain, but little written in historical fiction. I decided the time had come write about one of Britain's earliest genuine heroes.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

First of all, you need to learn how to write fiction. Take courses on creative writing/fiction in college or learn through a writers support group, I have done both. I am a member of the Spokane Novelist Group, Spokane, Washington. The group has been around for more than fifty years and most of the members are established authors. This is where I really learned to write fiction. They kept me honest. They didn't mince words when it came to critiquing my manuscripts. They trashed and trashed my work until I got it right.

Pick a topic you are interested in, not what someone else thinks you should write about. I am a retired police detective sergeant. When I first decided to write, most people figured I would write detective novels. This was the furthest thing from my mind. Twenty-five years of police work was enough for me. I had no interest in writing about crime except as to how it might relate in my historical novels.

Do your research. The old saying is true, "you write about what you know or what you have researched. In my case, it is what I have researched. I also traveled to the areas which I write about.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

My publisher is Sunbury Press (www.sunburypress.com), Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. They are a traditional small press, not a vanity/indie press. I submitted to several literary agents and publishers. They were the ones who accepted my novel for publication.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Actually, I surprised to how responsive the publisher was in answering my questions, and the same went for the assigned editor (she reviewed it three times and after each time I made the suggested corrections, although I had final say).

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

The Wolf of Britannia, Part I, is part of a trilogy that has already been published. The other two are, The Sign of the Eagle and The Wolf of Britannia, Part II. The Wolf of Britannia, Part I, is about Caratacus's rise to power. We see him as a young prince trying to unite the southern British tribes before the Roman invasion. Part II is about the actual Roman invasion of Britain and Caratacus's war against the invaders. The Sign of the Eagle is about his grown daughter, Macha, who married a Roman army tribune, wrongfully accused of treason and her efforts to prove his innocence.

I have two more novels, in the works, The Broken Lance and The Peacekeeper. These are novels that parallel The Sign of the Eagle trilogy but seen from the Roman perspective through the eyes of a Spanish centurion. They cover the years 44 A.D. - 69 A.D. They should be published sometime late in 2017.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

Usually, Facebook.

Q: What’s your nightly ritual before retiring for the night?

Reading historical fiction.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

I am not trying to get across any specific message, just trying convey history in an entertaining and informative manner.
  
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Your welcome. I would urge any perspective writer to develop a sense of self-discipline and be persistent, persistent, persistent!