In the brief time since I last spoke with Jane, she and E.M. Swift-Hook have released a second book in their Dai and Julia series. This one is called Dying to be Friends.
We added details of border forts on the eastern edge of the Roman Empire, including communal latrines. We also beefed up the understanding of how the Roman Army works. In our world the Vigiles (police) are part of the army. In Britannia we added some more idea of the differences in social structure for locals and Romans, and of the inequalities our protagonists face.
Did it mean you had to do more research to make the science or tech work in this book?
One of the areas of constant head scratching is Latin. An A level nearly fifty years ago isn’t much help, I’m finding. And geography and place names.
How does this one differ from Dying to be Roman?
This is a prequel, and contains two stories. One is Dai’s first case as a full-blown Vigiles. The other tells how Julia is abandoned in the border badlands.
Which speculative fiction influenced this world or series?
I don’t know if we can actually put our fingers on any fiction in particular as a direct influence. The Welsh side borrows from the Mabinogion. The Dai/Julia relationship may have been influenced by Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane or Lindsey Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina. And so on. We are both voracious readers, so pinning us down to specifics…
How would you compare your world to other alternative Roman empires like the ones in Roma Eterna by Robert Silverberg or the Felix the Fox stories by Assaph Mehr?
I think our world is pretty much our own. We tried to start with a clean sheet. Giving ourselves a jumping off point in actual history, we then allowed the needs of our story to shape us a world. It is a pretty brutal society, where the human rights thing really hasn’t kept pace with technology. I don’t honestly think I’d much like to live in the world we have created.
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