Wednesday 17 April 2019

Join #HistoricalFiction author, Peter Baggott, and find out what inspired him to write The Civilis Saga #AncientRome @baggott_scot

An author’s Inspirations
by Peter Baggott

What inspired me to write?

My sister suggested I had a flair for writing, and my wife was worried I wouldn’t cope with retirement after the Police Service.

What made me chose a historical subject?

I am not an academic, but I have always had an interest in history and particularly all things Roman. I was born in Lincoln formally the Roman location of Lindvm/Lindvm Colognia.
As a teenager I worked as a paperboy amongst the remains of the Roman fort, the Medieval castle and Cathedral. I also worked part-time at a hotel which had Roman remains in the car park, and on request, I gave self-guided tours of the Roman Lincoln to predominantly American guests.

Was the Civilis Saga my first attempt at writing?

No, it wasn’t. I started writing a Greek story based around the survivors of the Trojan War being shipwrecked on Crete, an island I’ve visited many times. I couldn’t get into the story, so I turned my attention to a Roman based novel. Initially I composed a huge novel with Marcus looking back over his life. As a result of having my transcript professionally assessed I adopted her suggestions by braking the novel down into a continuous story and expanded the characters.

Did my working life help in the creation of the story?

Yes, I’ve spent three quarters of my working life in uniform, the Army, Prison Service and finally the Police. As part of the training we used riot techniques involving shields and Roman named techniques like Testudo (turtle), wedge and trudge steps.
The Army and the Police taught me camaraderie and the dependence on those around you. I was promoted at nineteen the youngest ever at the time in the Artillery. At twenty-one I supervised the Regiments Medical Centre catering for over three thousand soldiers and their families including US attached soldiers and families. I enjoyed working with US soldiers and their families who were coping with tours in Vietnam, physical and mental scars. Though I didn’t take part in Northern Ireland I lost friends from my training days including my best friend who committed suicide as a result of his experiences.
Having dealt with my own PTSD problem I am convinced that Roman soldiers would have suffered the same problems, despite current objectors to the idea. They were not superhuman and I would site the Vietnam War as being on a par with Roman campaigns for the battle intensity. Even to the point to which US soldiers were tortured, I have tried to give my characters human feelings and emotions, not the Hollywood heroes.

What inspired the characters and incidents in the creation of the story?

I was brought up near the Broads which are very dangerous, and I spent a lot of time there, coupled with local lakes resulting in a few unintentional dips. The proximity of water led to a friend nearly drowning (Marcus’ river incident). We all do stupid things that luckily, we survive and can reflect on, I know I have.
I was a naïve eighteen-year-old when I was posted to Germany, where my friends went to great lengths to point out prostitution (the oldest job in the world it has been claimed). A German survey at the time highlighted large numbers of English women victims of domestic violence that were involved in Germany’s sex industry. Thousands of Roman soldiers never returned home, leaving starving families which prompted my inclusion of prostitution as a means of their survival. Famous pornographic mosaics found in Roman locations (Pompei being of note) offered itself as part of everyday survival. Many more had no choice – male and female slaves. I believe those on the lowest social scale would have lived a grubby squalid life style, you did what you had to, too survive.
The heavy Roman losses also prompted the thoughts of fatherless children and the illegitimate they left behind - the American occupation of Vietnam, “the lost children,” (Miss Saigon).


I knew an old lady in Lincoln from my paperboy days whose house bordered on the Newport Arch, a complete Roman gateway in Lincoln who told me of the “Newport Marchers.” It was suggested that the 9th Hispania, a legion based in Lindvm (the legion disappeared and is still unaccounted for, however recent written accounts at Vindolanda may finally suggest they were wiped out in an uprising somewhere around AD 100+. The “ghosts” were allegedly the 9th on the way to their destruction and the little old lady insisted that on one day a year you could hear them march through the archway. I never had the opportunity to experience the phenomena, but it sparked an interest in me but sadly, due the numerous car collisions with the archway it to the erection of lighting after which the “Marchers” never reappeared.
My first wife is a 3rd generation descendent of an American Indian medicine woman and claimed to see things. Many will scoff at this suggestion, but one example involved saving a young boys life from what she saw – a brain tumour. Doctors had failed to detect it and it nearly cost him his life. I have met others with the gift, and I have myself at times felt and seen things. I read somewhere, a long time ago, that we all possess(ed) a sixth sense but only a chosen few retain it.

Does my writing involve a lot of research?

Yes, I thought I had a fair knowledge of Roman history, sadly that was not so. I like to get things as accurate as I can, often incorporating new finds (the name on a Roman tombstone in York.
I had a location in Dublin Bay in mind for a character’s origin, I established the site of an ancient settlement, but I needed invaders, the Vikings were much later. After extensive research, I found a marauding Welsh tribe seeking a new home who eventually settled in Ireland.
The character names used are as authentic as the internet allows. I used Google maps to estimate the marching distances and then adjusted the routes to allow for physical features and any remaining Roman roads. I converted the distances to Roman miles and estimated the distances covered by a horse traveling at various speeds and the average walking day of a Roman soldier, twenty miles, to establish realistic traveling times.
Most recently I have been calculating tides and currents through the English Chanel along with the different starting points of the Roman invasion of Britannia. I cannot accept that a massive fleet arrived at the same location, at the same time, with the reported historical weather conditions. My own creation of the truth or not?
Why use real life people and events?

The real facts and people are the bones of which my story is the meat.

What drives you to continue writing?

Readers asking for more.

What authors have inspired you to write?

My favourite historical writer is Valerio Massimo Manfredi – he’s Italian, a lecturer in Roman history and a fantastic writer. Robert Fabbri’s Vespasian series is excellent and the Angus Macdonald series about Robin Hood (Loxley?), love folklore.

The Civilis Saga is a Roman-based story of revenge encompassing drama, murder, passion, love, family relationships, political intrigue, war, mystery and mild erotica based around real-time people and events.

Part 1

VICTUS Claudian is ostracized for being a bully and a rake despite being a good soldier. His father's death leads to an opportunity within the Praetorian guard and with Sejanus as his mentor he is involved in a conspiracy to grab the purple in Rome AD 32 Whilst mentoring his sister, he establishes she has a lover and he turns his attention to find and kill that lover - a member of the Civilis family. 

Part 2

 ILONA Wolf Queen

Ilona is the only child of the seer Rosevetha who has foretold of a man who will enter her daughter’s life and change it forever, if he survives. Following the demise of Sejanus, Artorius Civilis is sent back to his legion in Germania to weed out other conspirators with the offer of joining the Praetorian Guard on his return. A snow storm leads him to a chance encounter containing Ilona and her mother. He is warned that he must return to Rome at the earliest opportunity but not told why. As he continues his journey north he is ambushed and left to freeze as a wold pack senses prey.

Part 3
Cay Rosevetha’s Curse

The story opens to find a young Artorius Civilis returning from Spain following the mutiny on the Rhine to find he is involved in the search for the lost Teutoberg Eagles. He returns empty-handed to both deep sorrow and jubilation and for his bravery he is offered the chance to return home and recruit replacements for the legion’s losses. Early days for Victus creates the creature he later becomes.

Peter Baggott

Peter Baggott is a debut author with a deep interest in Roman history. He has served in three uniformed employments and is very familiar with Roman tactics which are still used in everyday life: shield tactics and skills – testudo being much used in the Police and Prison Service.

Peter chose for his writing this historical genre because of his innate interest in the subject and having been born in the Roman city of Lindvm, modern day Lincoln.

In his teens, on a daily basis, while delivering newspapers, Peter traversed the exposed Roman remains from The Steep to the Newport Arch, the only full Roman archway in Great Britain.

While working in a local hotel close to the ruins he utilised this knowledge to become a self-appointed guide to visitors from far and wide and has continued to keep up to date with local finds. There are many stories surrounding the infamous Legio IX Hispana, who were based in Lindvm, their disappearance has inspired his continuing interest in all things Roman.

Peter has also visited numerous Roman sites, both in the UK and in Europe and has used original Roman historical sources of Tacitus, Suetonius and Dio, Google Maps for distancing and location, Wikipedia and several archaeological online sources. Thus, he tries to keep abreast with new finds upgrading his work accordingly.

Connect with Peter: Website • Twitter

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx