|Map of Ancient Ostia|
At a loss for what to do next, I canvassed school librarians. Almost all of them pleaded with me to write something for boys aged 5 to 7, a gap in the market as far as they were concerned, so I thought I might try writing for that age group. I often say that this new younger series set in ancient Rome has ‘more poo and less blood.’
The Scrolls are a great concept, how many scrolls have you ever been lucky enough to read? The only scrolls I have read were parchment scrolls of the Tanach, the Jewish Bible. I did my master’s thesis on a thousand-year-old parchment codex (booklet) of the Book of Esther from the Old Testament written in Syriac, a Christian version of Aramaic.
Do you know how many Scrolls there will be or will you write them until you run out of ideas? There will be at least four and if they are a success I’ll definitely write at least another four.
There are quite a few similarities between the P.K. Pinkerton Mysteries and the Roman Mysteries. Both series are thoroughly researched with lots of facts, artefacts and exciting plots. The stories don’t sugar coat but neither do they show how bad things could really be. My characters in both series are a mixture of made-up people and historical figures. Both series will last about two and a half years; instead of the reign of Titus in the Roman Mysteries, the P.K. Pinkerton mysteries will take place during the “reign of Twain” in Virginia City!
Another attraction was the huge vein of marvellous primary sources and literature available to me. Also the fact that I can see the past (thanks to stereoscopic photographs, a new invention) and hear it (thanks to sheet music).
One thing I’ve discovered is how horribly politically incorrect the Wild West was. It often makes ancient Rome look like a vicar’s tea-party. My period has drinking, smoking, spitting, shooting, whoring, fighting and hoaxing. But of course that’s half the fun.
What made you change the name of the series? Was it that children were not aware of the wild west and to have a named character was more attractive? To children born in the last dozen years, “Western” means nothing! To many adults it brings up images of cowboys, cattle drives, lassoes and bleached cow-skulls in Arizona deserts. My books contain none of those elements. They are urban westerns.
We thought that naming the series after a character – even a mysterious and unfamiliar one called “P.K. Pinkerton” – might work better. We have yet to see!
I love the new series, including the look of the books. It is fun and refreshingly different yet you manage to maintain your flair for writing a gripping and pacey story. Where do you get the energy from? Thank you! Energy comes from the nice comments like that! Also from emails and letters from fans. But mostly from the fact that I have a fantastic riverside flat in the heart of London, no kids at home and a wonderfully supportive husband who cooks for me. I recharge my batteries by going for long walks along the river with music (or audiobooks) and also by seeing lots of movies, and by meeting friends for coffee.
|Sugar Loaf Mountain|