Book: The Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane
-- What motivated you to write such a sweeping historical epic? Have you always been a so called history buff? Was there any one specific thing that got you interested in this particular part of history?
Since childhood, I have always been fascinated by history, particularly military history. Anything to do with the the ancient Greeks and Romans to the Byzantine Empire, the Crusades to the Mongols, the 100 Years War to Napoleon, the American Civil War, World War I and World War II, I devoured. For some reason I cannot explain, though, the Romans hold a particular fascination for me. Once I decided to write a military historical fiction novel, the Romans seemed the most natural choice. The first novel I wrote is still on the hard drive of my computer, because it didn't have enough scope. It was my agent who taught me that, and who prompted me to write a book with a more sweeping style. Fortunately, I had actually been to the site where the Roman prisoners from the battle of Carrhae were sent in 53 BC. Nowadays, it is the ruins of a city called Merv, and is found in Turkmenistan, but in ancient times the settlement was known as Antiochia, and was in the area known as Margiana. When I was walking around the ruins in 1997, I read a few lines in my guidebook about Roman legionaries who had ended up there and was absolutely intrigued. When I got home, I did a little research on the subject. Along with the time in 2001 which I spent working in and around Hadrian's Wallin northern England, this was the basis for The Forgotten Legion.
-- I'm curious to know if it's hard for you to write about such violent scenes and situations, because I know that sometimes, it's awfully hard to read!
It might sound terrible, but in fact I find it incredibly easy to write battle or combat scenes of virtually any kind. I can't explain why, but I find it the most natural thing in the world to imagine being a soldier. I always have. Such scenes are by far and away the fastest ones I ever write. My wife explains it by saying that I must have been a Roman legionary in a previous life, which I don't really believe in, but I haven't yet had a better explanation!
-- What are your plans for future books and/or sequels?
Here in the UK, the sequel to The Forgotten Legion has already been published. It is called The Silver Eagle, and comes out in the United States on 16 March.The last book in the trilogy is entitled The Road to Rome and will be published in the UK in August this year, and early next year in the USA.
I'm in the great position of having sold a new trilogy to Random House, my publishers here in the UK. These three books concern the Second Punic War betweenRome and Carthage, spanning the incredible battles which Hannibal won and the prolonged campaign by the Romans to defeat him. It is a period of history which I adore, and I'm so excited about being afforded the privilege to write about it. The first book is called Soldier of Carthage, and I am about 50% of the way into it at the moment. It will be published next year in the UK, and hopefully some time soon after that in the United States.
-- Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what would the playlist include for The Forgotten Legion?
I used to listen to music all the time, all types from classical (Beethoven/Mozart/Tchaikovsky) to rock (U2/Midnight Oil) and world music (Johnny Clegg/Yothu Yindi). Mainly, though, and as stereotypical as it might sound, it was the soundtrack to the film Gladiator! I find Hans Zimmer's music so inspiring; scenes often used to flow semi-miraculously when I listened to that. Thanks to the repetitive strain injuries caused by too much typing, nowadays I use voice activated software to write, which sadly means that I cannot listen to music as it creates too much background noise. However during my breaks, I still listen to the Gladiator music.
-- A question I love to ask: What would a perfect day be like for you?
It's an impossibility: a day so long that I could get in a full quota of writing and still be able to spend the same amount of time with my wife and family and get enough sleep!
-- And finally, a question I ask all authors for the Author Picks Five feature on my blog: What five books are most important or influential to you?
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff.
The Many Coloured Land by Julian May.
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks.
Do non-fiction books count? If they do, then Conscious Loving by Gay and Kathleen Hendricks has to be on the list.
Thanks so much to Ben for hanging out with us today!
And don't forget to check out these reviews by those who've gone before me in the TLC line up:
Thursday, January 28th: Drey’s Library
Tuesday, February 3rd: Books for Breakfast
Wednesday, February 4th: Café of Dreams
Monday, February 8th: Chefdruk Musings
Tuesday, February 9th: Raging Bibliomania
Wednesday, February 10th: Bibliofreak
Thursday, February 11th: Luxury Reading
Tuesday, February 16th: My Two Blessings
Thursday, February 18th: Rundpinne
Tuesday, March 2nd: It’s All About Books