Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Interview with Sherry Christie, Author of Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula's Rome + Tour-Wide Giveaway!

Thank you so much, Sherry, for taking the time to stop by A Literary Vacation! One of my favorite aspects of interacting with authors is finding out what inspires them to write the novels that they do. Every author seems to have their own unique approach to their craft and learning that process really helps me, as a reader, get a better appreciation for the end result. So I can’t wait to learn more about your process!


Thank you, Colleen, for inviting me to share some behind-the-scenes insights into Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome, my new historical about everyone’s favorite mad, bad Emperor!
The political intrigue, warring allegiances, and fascinating real-life participants of the early Roman Empire gives plenty of interesting factors for a writer to explore. What led you to write this particular story?


Good question! I think many of us who read historical fiction secretly imagine how we would have changed history (despite Claire and Jamie’s failure). The early Roman Empire is one of those precarious times when a nudge could have altered the future. It intrigued me to explore how Marcus Carinna, a young man believing in the old Roman virtues of duty and honor, would act in a new era that prioritized stability at all costs. It’s an issue that America as a country still faces today: should we act according to our principles, or our political interests?

The backstory to Roma Amor is that after Julius Caesar’s murder, there were 14 years of bloody civil war until Augustus defeated everyone else to become Rome’s First Chosen (Princeps). He tried to name a successor based on ability and experience, but fate left him only his stepson, Tiberius. Though reluctant, Tiberius did a good job of keeping the peace throughout the Empire. When he died, it was assumed that another of Augustus’s descendants should inherit his powers in order to maintain political stability. However, the paranoid Tiberius had whittled away his relatives so successfully that there were only three males left: 46-year-old Claudius, sneered at as weak and infirm; teenage Gemellus, whose mother had murdered his father; and 24-year-old Caligula, a hero’s son thought to be meek and submissive. Guess which one the Senate (including Marcus’s ambitious father) liked best?

I know historical fiction is typically a combination of real facts from history and fiction added to fill in the gaps no longer known. Can you tell us a little bit about the facts in Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome and where/why you added the fiction?

Other than Marcus Carinna’s family and the Germanic priestess Aurima and her people, just about everyone in Roma Amor is a real historical entity. But there’s a lot about what they thought and did that we can’t be sure of, because most histories written at the time didn’t survive. Much of what has come down to us was penned by two historians, Suetonius and Dio Cassius, a hundred years or more after Caligula’s death. For a sense of Caligula’s real personality, I read everything I could find about his environment, his parents, his upbringing, and what he was factually known to have done. Then I painted a person who could have existed with all these touchpoints. I also tried to suggest how some of the scandalous rumors reported by Suetonius may have arisen. (BTW, Suetonius’s “history” inspired the treachery and mayhem in the BBC production of Robert Graves’s novel I, Claudius.)

I see that Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome is just the first installment of a saga. Where can we expect your upcoming novels in the saga to take us?


 There are 30 more years of dysfunctional Caesars in the offing! Marcus may play a role in Caligula’s downfall, the reign (and disastrous marriages) of Claudius, and the rise of Nero—who will make his uncle Caligula look like a model of moderation.

Historical fiction happens to be my all-time favorite genre and I find myself going back and forth between what periods of history are my favorite to read about. Do you have a favorite time period or location to write and/or read about, or do you enjoy jumping around as I do?
To me, a good historical novel is rich in understanding of its time and place, and I have huge admiration for authors who can create that kind of setting and situate believable characters in it. My favorite periods tend to be turbulent: the Norman Conquest (I love James Aitcheson’s Sworn Sword trilogy and Hilary Rhodes’s quartet of novels about William); anything about Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine; Sara Poole’s and Kate Quinn’s Borgias; Giles Kristian’s Vikings; C.J. Sansom’s Shardlake series set in Henry VIII’s reign; and the Greek wars against the Persians (Christian Cameron’s series about Arimnestos of Plataea is excellent). The two historical novels that have most deeply engaged my emotions are both set in ancient Greece: Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire, about the Spartans’ battle at Thermopylae, and Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, told by the hero’s lover, Patroclus. I guess I’m fond of doom.

What does a typical day (if there is one) look like for you? How do you balance writing and the rest of your life?

I usually write every day, but without a routine. As a professional financial copywriter, I typically spend 20-25 hours a week writing about money or money psychology (psychotherapist Olivia Mellan and I have collaborated on five books so far). That, plus being happily married and helping to keep the home fires burning, means it can be hard to find time and energy for fiction. What saves me is taking chunks of time—3 to 4 weeks at least once a year—for a novel-writing retreat. La Muse, in southwestern France, is my favorite place for this.
A lot of authors have become huge on social media, not only promoting their work but interacting with their readers and offering up giveaways, book recommendations, etc. Are you a big proponent of using social media in this way? How do you prefer to interact with your fans?

Although I’m a relative newbie on social media, I enjoy seeing what my “tribe” is up to on Twitter. I love the idea of having more interaction with fans—just wish I had more time! I can always be reached through
I’ve noticed that a lot of authors are also big readers. When you have time for leisure reading what sorts of books do you gravitate towards? Have you read anything good lately?

My two favorite genres are historical fiction (naturally) and suspense/detective fiction. I’ll read anything by Tana French, Michael Robotham, Adrian McKinty, or Giles Blunt. A novel I just finished and highly recommend is Carolyn Hougan’s The Romeo Flag, a thriller about a trunkful of deadly information from wartime Shanghai that puts a present-day single mom in danger.
Can you tell us anything about the book(s) you’re working on now?

In Lost Eagles, the sequel to Roma Amor, Marcus will grapple with the treachery of Romans and Germanic tribesmen as he tries to restore his honor and find the love of his life, Aurima, who has disappeared in the wilderness beyond the Danube.

Thanks again for letting me visit with you, Colleen (and for your great questions)! If you’ll allow me to sneak in a quick plug, Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome is just $2.99 now in the Kindle store—or followers of “A Literary Vacation” can enter below for a chance to win one of two free print copies. Enjoy!

Thank you so much, Sherry, for stopping by my blog today and answering my questions! It has been a delight and I'm very excited to follow along on Marcus's journey!  Everyone, please continue below for  more information on the book, it's lovely author, the rest of the blog tour, and how you can enter the giveaway to win your very own copy of Roma Amor!

Publication Date: April 15, 2016
Bexley House Books
Paperback; 496 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Marcus Carinna hears a voice whisper, “Your turn,” as he rides past his family tomb. An unseen presence also startles the Germanic priestess Aurima, whom he is bringing to Rome. But hardheaded Romans scoff at ghosts, and Marcus can’t believe it’s a warning from his brother, who killed himself three years earlier.

37 AD: To great acclaim, 25-year-old Caligula Caesar has become Rome’s new master. No one is more pleased than Senator Titus Carinna, who helped him succeed to the throne. It’s a shame the Senator’s older son–Caligula’s closest friend–committed suicide after being charged with treason. But that still leaves Marcus, his second son.

Headstrong and hot-tempered, Marcus would rather prove his courage by leading legions against Rome’s enemies than take his brother’s place. Yet when his father orders him to befriend Caligula, he has no choice.

Caught in a web of deceit, conspiracy, and betrayal, he will uncover a secret that threatens his family, the woman he desires, even his life… and may bring chaos to the young Roman Empire.

Praise for Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula's Rome

“The first installment in a page-turning saga that revisits the heroes and villains of the grandest city of the ancient world…. Comes alive with the long gone characters who were its lifeblood” -Kirkus Reviews

‘‘Combines current political concerns, the wide lens of the serious historical novel, and emotional maturity and realism with an utterly splendid grasp of what it must have been like to live in Rome under Caligula’s reign.” -Sarah Smith, Agatha Award winner and New York Times Notable author

Buy the Book



About the Author

After earning a Phi Beta Kappa creative award in college for an early draft about a nobly born charioteer, Sherry Christie spent many years of research and revision developing ROMA AMOR into the story about fathers and sons that it wanted to be. It’s a joy to immerse myself in the lives of first-century Romans–and a distinct change from my day job as a . In addition to writing, Sherry is a professional copywriter. She lives on the coast of Maine with a native-born Viking and two cats.

For more information, please visit Sherry Christie’s website. You can also connect with her on Twitter, and Goodreads.

It's Giveaway Time!!

To win a paperback copy of Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome by Sherry Christie, please enter via the Gleam form HERE. 2 copies are up for grabs!
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 11th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– 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.
Good Luck!


Roma Amor Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 24

Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 25

Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, October 26

Review at Kinx’s Book Nook

Friday, October 28

Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Monday, October 31

Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, November 1

Review at Bookfever

Wednesday, November 2

Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, November 4

Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, November 7

Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, November 9

Review at Bookramblings
Review at The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, November 10

Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, November 11

Review at Beth’s Book Nook
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Guest Post at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, November 16th

Interview at A Literary Vacation


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