Today’s guest and exclusive blog post is by Lindsey Davis. A former Chair of the CWA, Lindsey Davis was the inaugural winner of the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award, she has also been awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library for her body of work. A former Honorary President of the Classical Society she has also won The Sherlock Award for Best Comic Detective, The Premio Colosseo awarded by the city of Rome to someone who "has enhanced the image of Rome in the world and in 2011 the Cartier Diamond Dagger.
Best known for her series of books featuring Marcus Didius Falco she is also the author of The Course of Honour a novel about Vespasian and his lover Antonia Caenis, Rebels and Traitors which was set in the period of the English Civil War and Falco: The Official Companion which is considered to be the best author’s handbook on a series to be written. Her new series features Flavia Alba, Falco's British-born adopted daughter who is a private investigator in her own right. The first book in the new series The Ides of April is published today. The Shots Magazine review of The Ides of April can be found here.
‘Will there really be no more Falcos?’ readers demand tearfully. I have to admit I am starting to feel tetchy, because I have written other things, which many people were surprised to find they liked – juicy standalones like Master and God and even Falco: the Official Companion, a series handbook like no other. What other series handbook contains both a Damart vest and an attempt to assassinate Bismarck?
I haven’t even said there will be no more Falcos; I don’t know. I don’t want to be pushed into making a statement just to shut people up. At the moment I want to do something different, so the quality of writing will be high because I am happy and refreshed. I thought a new spin-off series would be reassuring – but I detect very strong hints of ‘You are being judged!’ I’ll say ‘hints’, not ‘threats’. My readers always seem particularly nice. These are the people who tell me reluctantly ‘we know he is not real, really’. They are sensible. Only one has ever sent me a birthday card for a character.
I believe they will become just as devoted to her. I think Flavia Albia is a rip-roaring heroine who will hold her own against even her papa. I am certainly enjoying writing about her, and my standards for that are pretty high. One thing slightly worries me: in Ides part of the plot revolves around the fact that it’s the date Albia has chosen as her ‘official’ birthday because she doesn’t know, and will never know, her real one. I just want to remind everyone the Romans didn’t send cards.
This book is unusual in that I have used a murder plot that is probably real. I won’t give it all away, but a historian mentions a weird series of killings, where people didn’t even know they had been attacked. It may not be true, because he wants to illustrate public fear and hysteria during the paranoid Domitian years – a nicely grim period when the new series is set. I did not want a teenaged protagonist; I have always addressed adults, been satirical about sex and politics, felt free to make dark events feature heavily. I think an investigator needs to have experience, or how can they be any good? And trust me, Albia is good. As a woman in a man’s world, she needs to be.
So I’ve moved on twelve years from Nemesis. No, we are not having old Vesuvius erupt (though we may find out at some point what happened to the Falco clan when it did). There are familiar locations and characters for existing fans, but Albia explains them in her caustic style so new readers won’t feel left out or fazed. And there will be plenty of new ‘regulars’. I have such fun inventing them, and if readers will just give it a go, I think they will have fun too.