Chaired by Al Senter
*This post may contain spoilers for the book*
Lindsey opened by stating that it is always a worry when they let you have the main theatre, part of you are scared that it will be empty. Lindsey was here to talk about her new book, Master and God, she described the writing process of the novel as more fun. She past comment on how it is 134,000 words. It is a novel that gives you value for money.
She is well-known for her 20 Falco novels that have already been published. It was described as a very long time for a writer to stick with one characters. Lindsey expressed that her main desire for writing this book was that she wanted to get away from Falco. She expressed an interest to write about the 18th century to her publisher. This was meant with protest. They wished for her to stick with the Roman period, as this is what she is well-known for. This was when the story of Domitian entered her head and became her next novel.
Domitian was the second son of Emperor Titus, he was brought up in a very different way than his oder brother. In Lindsey’s words “he was dumped with family.” She described him as a bit “Prince Harry like in his youth.” She used this youth to bulk out his story.
Anyone who has read any of Lindsey’s novels, know that romance always features. Master and God is a long book, this is one of the main reasons Lindsey’s didn’t want the romance to start on page 1. They met in chapter one but the romance does not fully evolve till later on in the book.
We were treated to a sneak peek at her new series. It is going yo be set 12 years after Domitian and will be a deceive series about Alba. “It was a nice change to write from a female prospective. Also it will provide an opportunity to view the Roman’s from an outside prospective. The new book is called ‘Eyes of April’ and will be released on 11th April 2013.
Lindsey then done something, I have never seen a doctor do. She opened the floor to questions from the audience with 45 minutes to go. She explained her reasons for this, as she “always runs out of time to answer questions, so today she wanted to do things a little differently.”
What are your favourite sources of research?
“Don’t have a favourite source to use. I like to look at everything. During certain times there is little information available and you have to work from a little source and work your way backwards.” Lindsey likes to use archeological sites as much as possible. She likes to look not just at the top-level of history but what goes on in the street as well.
What proportion of your time is spent on research vs writing?
“It really depends on the book. I like to use my research over as many times as possible.” She also added that it is fun to write a detective series that is set in a paranoid society. She could write an Alba book without doing any new research. Lindsey takes real joy in the research process and admits that it isn’t an exact science and is generally about reading as much as possible.
Are you a disciplined writer?
Lindsey’s first response was that she “doesn’t drink and type.” Writing can be the most fabulous job you can have, you don’t have to get up at a set time. She then gave us a brief outline of her day, This is a typical day in the life of Lindsey Davis:
- Wakes up and listens to Radio 3 for a couple of hours.
- Get out of bed and do Pilates.
- Put on being a writer clothes. Writer’s clothes consist of comfortable clothes.
- Walk to the local shop and buy Guardian. Reason behind this was she felt like she could “go days with seeing anyone, she was afraid this would make her go weird.”
- Chats with Rob the paper man, mainly about Archeology.
- Has breakfast and reads the Guardian, does the crossword and Sudoku.
- Then it is time for lunch.
- Might ring my agent.
- By 3pm, “I am starting to think I could write something, until Pointless comes on.”
- Have dinner.
- Then have a long hot bath. This is extremely important and she said that she always has good creative thoughts in the bath.
“This is basically my typical day, I have written a book a year for 20 years so this routine works for me. It is nothing like what they tell you to do. My synopsis tends to be one page long and very basic. If I had worked out a full synopsis I would be bored to tears and wouldn’t want to write at all. It is not until I am about 90% through writing the novel, that I finally decide who the culprit is actually going to be.”
Why do you choose to write in the 1st person?
“Everything that happens has to happen or be told to the narrator. This can be extremely difficult at times. It makes the writing process very vivid. It is always like having a conversation with the writer.”
Did you find many constraints of writing as a woman during that time period?
“It is very hard writing as Alba at times. Have to be careful what cases she gets, mainly they are the cases that male detectives have rejected. She also does a lot of detective work for woman. It has presented a nice challenge as a writer.”
How do you deal with writing about real historical figures?
“I find writing about real Romans, really awkward. I don’t want to change historical figures personalities. You can only really find out about Roman Emperor’s personal lives as they have biographies written about them. However you have a right as an author to change people. An author’s job is to use as little as we know and flesh it out a bit. I want the reader to believe all of it is the truth. It is a strange thing we do as fiction authors.
Why do you tell a scene through the eye of a fly?
It is part of the biography of Domitian. It is an ionic mention of when he became emperor. As a public man he didn’t make himself available. The famous quote from the biography states “Is there anyone with him? No not even a fly.” The reader finds out later on that in fact, Domitian wasn’t alone, in fact he was stabbing flies with a pen.’ In many people’s eyes Domitian was brooding during this time. He was suffering grief for his father and his brother. Also there is the aspect of terror, he is having to take on a role he was never brought up to take on. Lindsey thought it would be an interesting idea to tell this scene through the eyes of a fly in her novel. However this fly ends up dying at the hands of Domitian and this presented a unique and interesting challenge for Lindsey.
Lindsey then ended the event by saying, she did ponder if she could write the whole book through the eyes of the insect? This drew the event to a close and left the audience wondering what would the insects opinions be of ancient Rome?