A Conversation with Historical Fiction author and publisher, Richard Foreman
Please give a warm Coffee Pot welcome to Richard Foreman.
Mary Anne: Congratulations on the release of Rubicon: A HWA Short Story Collection. What is it about the Roman era that appeals to the reader, and why did you, as a publisher, decided to release a short-story collection that focused on this period in history?
Richard Foreman: The stories in Rubicon allow the authors involved to showcase their various series and characters. The tales encompass the Roman Republic and Roman Empire – and cover different sub-genres such as crime, espionage and military history. The purpose of Rubicon – and other HWA collections – is to cross-pollenate readerships. The book introduces the fans of Anthony Riches and SJ Turney to the readers of Peter Tonkin and LJ Trafford. The Roman world fascinates and resonates I think because it is simultaneously different and similar to today’s society. Cicero’s wit and political insights are relevant still – yet at the same time Ancient Rome, whether through its alien customs or characters, seems exotic. The project was an opportunity to collaborate with the HWA and a group of writers who I know and admire from writing Roman fiction myself. Also, I am not alone amongst authors in receiving requests from fans to write more stories related to certain series and characters I’ve created over the years. A Brief Affair, which is linked to my Spies of Rome series, is partly a thank you to my readers.
Mary Anne: Ten authors contributed to this collection. What makes these particular authors stand out, in your opinion, on what is a considerably crowded bookcase?
Richard Foreman: Most of the authors who we invited to contribute to the collection are veteran historical novelists. Not in the sense of their ages, but that they have lived and breathed the period for several years. Ancient Rome is in their blood. They know their characters and genres inside out. The authors brought a sense of fun and scholarship to their tales, whether dealing with Ovid in exile or a Roman spy sleeping with one mistress too many. One of the reasons why the bookcases are so overcrowded in relation to the period is that there is a wealth of talent, particularly in the UK and US, writing about Ancient Rome. Like chocolate, human folly and the little black dress, Ancient Rome never seems to go out of fashion.
Mary Anne: Short-stories have always appealed to the reader, why do you think this is?
Richard Foreman: Various reasons. Short stories can serve as a taster menu for longer works by the author. They’re not too time consuming in a time precious world. They can be great models of brevity, pace and wit – an espresso shot of truth. Short stories can be wonderfully entertaining and literary. When younger I went through a period of devouring short stories by Chekhov. The short Sherlock HoImes cases are gems too, for different reasons. I was so enamoured with the Pat Hobby short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald that I decided to write my own, involving the drunken screenwriter. It’s often the case that authors like writing them as well of course – and their talent and sense of fun shines through in the genre.
Mary Anne: Rubicon: A HWA Short Story Collection is the first book in The Historical Writers Association short-story collection series. Can you tell us a little more about the other collections?
Richard Foreman: To date there are four collections published, involving a whole host of authors (including Antonia Senior, Michael Jecks, Robert Wilton, Steven Veerapen and Elizabeth Fremantle). By the Sword covers the Medieval period, Royal Blood deals with the Tudor era and Victoriana profiles the 19th century. The stories serve as a showcase for an author’s longer works, but they are also useful as a calling card for the kind of novels that Sharpe Books are looking for, in relation to submissions. Should other writers read the collections and feel that they have written books - or are writing books - of a similar ilk then I would urge them to get in touch via sharpebooks.com and cross the Rubicon, so to speak.
Mary Anne: As a publisher, what is your definition of successful historical fiction?
Richard Foreman: The simple answer I think is that a book is successful if it prompts enough readers to want to read another work by that author (or indeed another author). This is partly why Sharpe Books is keen to take on novelists, new or established, who write series. Historical fiction can inform and entertain in a variety of ways, exhibited by the depth and diversity of the different HWA collections. Success can manifest itself in different forms too. I wrote a novel, Warsaw, many years ago set during the holocaust. The book sold extremely well and went into the Amazon top 20 - but what is particularly pleasing about the book is that I still regularly receive correspondence about it, saying how much the novel meant to readers. The nature of historical stories, which are seldom dated, mean that a book’s success can be measured over a period of time, rather than what it sells during the first month of publication. The past can be timeless.
A HWA Short Story Collection
By Nick Brown, Gordon Doherty, Ruth Downie, Richard Foreman, Alison Morton, Anthony Riches, Antonia Senior, Peter Tonkin, L.J. Trafford and S.J. Turney
Ten acclaimed authors. Ten gripping stories.
Immerse yourself in Ancient Rome through a collection of thrilling narratives, featuring soldiers, statesmen and spies.
Read about some of your favourite characters from established series, or be introduced to new writers in the genre.
The stories in Rubicon are, like Rome, diverse and intriguing - involving savage battles, espionage, political intrigue and the lives of ordinary - and extraordinary - Romans, such as Ovid, Marcus Agrippa and a young Julius Caesar.
This brand new collection, brought to you by the Historical Writers' Association, also includes interviews with each author.
Find out more about their writing processes and what attracts them to the Roman world.
View Ancient Rome through fresh eyes.
Rubicon is a feast of moreish tales and a must read for all fans of historical fiction.
Authors & Stories Featured in Rubicon:
Nick Brown - Maker of Gold
Gordon Doherty - Eagles in the Desert
Ruth Downie - Alter Ego
Richard Foreman - A Brief Affair
Alison Morton - Mystery of Victory
Anthony Riches - The Invitation
Antonia Senior - Exiles
Peter Tonkin - The Roman
L.J. Trafford - The Wedding
S.J. Turney - The Praetorian
Praise for Rubicon: A HWA Short Story Collection
"Greater than the sum of its parts... Rubicon has something for everyone: action, humour and historical insight."
"Rubicon is a declaration of intent to intrigue, inspire and entertain…”
Rubicon is currently available on Special Promotion for 99c/p.
Grab your copy today!
Add Rubicon to your ‘to-read’ list on
Richard Foreman is the bestselling author of numerous historical series set during the Roman Republic and Roman Empire, including the Augustus Caesar books, Sword of Empire and Sword of Rome. He is also the author Warsaw, Raffles: The Complete Innings and Band of Brothers, a series charting the story of Henry V and the Agincourt campaign. He lives in London.
"Siege is a very human story, set amongst the mess and destruction of a mad war. The author tells a swift, enthralling tale, enriched with historical detail and believable, engaging characters. Highly recommend."
J. A. Ironside, The King's Knight.