14 December 2018

Novel Conversations With Alison Morton and Conradus Mitelus

 In conjunction with Indie BRAG
posted every Friday

To be a little different from the usual 'meet the author' 
let's meet a character...

Conradus Mitelus

Q: Hello, I’m Helen, the host of Novel Conversations. Please do make yourself comfortable. Would you like a drink? Tea, coffee, wine – something stronger? You’ll find a box of chocolates and a bowl of fruit on the table next to you, please do help yourself. Now, I believe you’re a character in Alison Morton’s novel SUCCESSIO. Would you like to introduce yourself? Are you a lead character or a supporting role? 
A: My name is Conradus Mitelus and I’m the senior legate commanding the Praetorian Guard of Roma Nova. We’re responsible for the safety of our ruler, the Imperatrix Silvia Apulia, and for Roma Nova itself. We cover security and intelligence and have an executive arm, the Praetorian Guard Special Forces, or PGSF.
*scrutinises table* I’ll have a beer, thanks. *Pops the cap with his thumb and takes a good swallow.*  Lead character? Good question. I think Carina, my wife and fellow officer, would give you an argument on that. *Sits back, relaxes and gives Helen a warm, inviting smile. Helen fans herself.*

Q: What genre is the novel and what is it about?
A: We like to cover a lot of ground, but mainly a thriller. I’m told it’s alternative history, but it feels completely real to me.
*Fixes Helen with a steady look*  Your thoughts? No? *Laughs*
Okay, here’s the briefing:

Pulled into a nightmare of blackmail, drugs and breakdown, 21st century Praetorian Carina struggles to defend her family and country against a gifted and vicious enemy who is targeting her beloved husband Conrad and his children, including Stella, the imperial heir. 

Carina is an experienced military intelligence officer tasked with protecting Roma Nova – the last remnant of the Roman Empire that’s survived into the 21st century – but for once, she may not have the mental and physical strength to defeat this wrecking nemesis. But in the final agonising confrontation with her enemy, Carina has to make the hardest decision of her life…

SUCCESSIO is an adventure thriller with a difference: strong female characters and more than a dip into the Roman historical fiction world.

Q: No spoilers, but are you a ‘goody’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both!)
A: An odd question.  What do any of us know how we would act in any circumstances? The author describes me as a ‘blood-and-bone Roman’. I accept that; there’s no real choice about doing the right and fair thing. I expect others to take responsibility for their actions. But sometimes, the pressure becomes unbearable and people break.  

Q:  Tell me about another character in the novel – maybe your best friend, lover or partner … or maybe your arch enemy!
A: Ha! Carina, of course. She works with me in the Praetorian Guard and is one of our most successful field officers. I met her over fifteen years ago in New York when she was being hunted by a government enforcer. Her mother was Roma Novan from one of the most prominent Roma Novan families. She’s a bloody attractive woman, but I didn’t realise how much I loved her until I nearly lost her. She exasperates me when she goes off-piste – she doesn’t know what an operational rule book is – but Mars, she’s impressive. And she’s saved me more than once, in every way you can imagine.

Q: Roma Nova is ruled by a woman empress – the imperatrix – and women head the families and many institutions. Doesn’t it feel odd to be a man in that society?
A: *Laughs* Not at all! More seriously, the balance works well, especially if you compare it to the backward situation in most Western countries. It’s based on history, practicality  and logic

Where Rome blends into Roma Nova...
Q: Is this the only novel you have appeared in, or are there others in a series?
A: In the first trilogy, set in the present – INCEPTIO, PERFIDITAS and this book, SUCCESSIO – I’m Carina’s social partner and commanding officer, not an easy combination! In the second trilogy – AURELIA (late 1960s), INSURRECTIO and RETALIO (early 1980s) – readers see me as a child in INSURRECTIO and RETALIO. It wasn’t a good childhood. That’s all I’m prepared to say about that time. Oh, and yes, I’m in the novella, CARINA, and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a short story collection. Carina and I go on a ‘Roman holiday’ with a difference one of the stories!

*Phone rings * Oh, excuse me. I have to take this. *Pause* Of course. *Rings off* Sorry about that. It was the author. She says remember to say all six books in the two trilogies were awarded the BRAG Medallion. *Rolls eyes*

Q: What is one of your least favourite scenes you appear in?
A: Ah! *Looks away* When I thought Carina was going to chuck me out. What a bloody fool I was. But the next worst was when she had to arrest me for treason, I could see she was dying inside, but she still had the courage to do her duty.

Q: And your favourite scene?
A: Funnily enough, when my daughters came to support me during the trial. They were so brutally funny as only teenagers can be. But the rawest and most emotional scene was in the walled garden with Carina as we prepared to face our nemesis together.

Q: Tell me a little about your author. Has she written any other books?
A:  The Roma Nova series, of course, and she wrote about the intervention of one of Carina’s ancestors to try to stop William of Normandy’s invasion in 1066 Turned Upside Down. Apart from those, she’s written a couple of non-fictionThe 500 Word Writing Buddy and the other historical, Military or Civilians?

Q: Is your author working on anything else at the moment?
A: She’s the sort that’s incredibly driven. She used to be in my line of work, so I’m not surprised. I know she’s developing something new, but typically she’s not saying a word about it.

Q: How do you think indie authors, such as your author, can be helped or supported by readers or groups? What does your author think is the most useful for her personally?
A: Like Roma Novans, she takes responsibility for her actions. After all, every member of the military I know lives by the maxim that you are only as good as your last job. But she enjoys working with others in task groups and on operations with specific targets. Maintaining contacts with her readers and colleagues is very important to her. She does like a good review!

Q: Finally, before we must bid ‘vale’, the novel you appear in has been awarded a prestigious IndieBRAG Medallion, does your author find this helpful, and is there anything else she would like IndieBRAG to do to help indie authors receive the recognition they deserve?
A: Recognition is extremely important for motivation and validation and she’s delighted her story carries this award. Adopting a strategic approach is important to reach as many readers as possible, but so are persistence and hard work. Sometimes it’s a matter of time and repeated continuous effort to achieve your goals.

Helen: Thank you, Legate Mitelus. It was a pleasure talking to you. Would your author like to add a short excerpt and any useful links at the end? But meanwhile, chatting is thirsty work, would you like another beer?

Tibi maxima gratia, Helena. Sanitas bona! [Cheers in Latin]
*Sits back, gives Helen another warm, inviting smile. 

Helen fans herself harder. He really is rather gorgeous!
Oh, I say!  Well, here’s to being a successful Brag Medallion Honouree!

(Carina narrates: Conrad has just received a letter from a young British woman claiming to be his daughter. He went out with her mother when he was on a short training secondment in the UK.)

With dark blond hair, shifting copper-brown and green eyes and strong, sculpted lines to his face, Conrad was an attractive man. When he smiled, he was devastating. I’d met him when he was thirty-two, in his prime. It wasn’t merely his face, his athletic body or his fascinating cat-like walk. It was his plentiful charm. At twenty-one, in an English army town full of young soldiers, he would have been the hottest thing in pants.
‘She says she’s my daughter, mine and Janice’s.’ His shoulders slumped and he brought his hands up to support his head. ‘Mars help me if I’ve abandoned a child of mine.’
After a few moments, he stood up, catching the end of his knife and fork which clattered on to the table; the sound echoed through the room.
‘I’ll talk to Uncle Quintus. Perhaps he’ll have some ideas how to deal with this. And he’s the head of my family.’
    Quintus Tellus, who’d retired as Imperial Chancellor a few years ago, would no doubt have all kinds of clever advice, but I was unnerved to see Conrad at such a loss. Not a trace of his famous detached decisiveness; his mind was like a bowl of Jell-O. And this reverting to his previous family. My instinct would be to pay this Nicola a little visit and scare the crap out of her. Unfortunately, the letter had bitten straight into Conrad’s Achilles’ heel.
What made him such a good father was his determination that none of his own children would want for love or care. It was an obsession that reached back into his own ruined childhood.

– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– Longlisted for the 2015 HNS Indie prize
– Editor’s choice, The Bookseller’s inaugural Indie Preview, December 2014
Want to know more? You can connect with Alison:
The Roma Nova book site: http://alison-morton.com
Alison Morton’s Writing Blog: http://alisonmortonauthor.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alison_morton  @alison_morton
Alison’s Amazon page: http://Author.to/AlisonMortonAmazon

Twitter: @IndieBrag

Subscribe to newsletter:  http://tinyletter.com/HelenHollick
Twitter: @HelenHollick

 full guest list: click here 


  1. What I hate about Conrad is that he is tough, clearly ruggedly handsome and married to Carina. Other than that, he's OK!! Lovely interview - thank you Helen and Alison!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Jealous, Richard? ;-)

    But remember, the tougher they are, the harder they fall... SUCCESSIO is where we see Conrad’s inner brittleness; chickens come home not only to roost, but to lay big, fat eggs. It makes Conrad a much more interesting character to write than just a pretty face.

    1. Jealous? Moi? No way, Pedro! Not a jot. Thought never entered my head. Seriously, he IS a great character.

    2. Thank you! But not an easy personality...

    3. That's what makes him a great character, Alison. Sorry - originally posted in the wrong place so deleteed it ....

  4. Who wouldn't read further after "It wasn’t merely his face, his athletic body or his fascinating cat-like walk." Nice interview.

    1. Thank you! I rather think Carina is biased in her assessment, but I hope this gives readers an idea of how Conrad walks through his world, figuratively as well as literally.

  5. I've been waiting for Conrad to address us. [Also fanning myself.] And I really hope he and Carina get the better of that Quintus Tellus.
    I lift my cup to you, Alison: Sanitas bona! [It's early yet so it's only tea]

  6. Delighted you enjoyed Conrad's interview! Well, Quintus is tough and clever, but he's always supported Conrad and cared for him as he grew up. I think Carina is hoping that Quintus would tell Conrad to buck up and talk to Carina about the blackmail letter.
    But you'll need to read SUCCESSIO to find out! ;-)

  7. Grrrrrrr.... I wanted to read all of this, but I admit I only read Conrad's introduction. [Like Helen, fans self]. I've only read the first book, so I was afraid something might be given away. Enjoyed the first one, and I look forward to reading more in this series! I enjoy a good political thriller, and this one is definitely unique compared to the rest I've ever read because of its "alternative history" aspect. Sorry, Conrad.

  8. What a fascinating character! Ms. Morton has a great imagination and skill in story telling. This one goes to the top of my reading list-

  9. Conrad is a great character in an excellent series. (Okay, I've only managed to read the 1st two books but they are all on my TBR list.) Helen, thanks for inviting Conrad to Novel Conversations, and kudos to Alison!

  10. Ooo, seeing his wonderful handsome picture there, I'm even more enamoured and jealous of Carina also! I loved this book and all of them actually!Enjoyable interview, guys!


Thank you for leaving a comment - it should appear soon, but Blogger sometimes chucks its teddies out of the cot and has a tantrum. My apologies if you leave a comment and I do not respond - blame it on Blogger Bloopers. If you are having problems, contact me on author AT helenhollick DOT net and I will post it for you. Sometimes a post will appear as anonymous instead of your name or avatar - I draw attention to this being another Blogger Blooper and NOT of MY doing... That said ...SPAMMERS or distasteful rudeness will be stamped on, squashed, composted and very possibly cursed - if you spam my blog, next time something nasty happens to you just remember that I DID warn you...