Monday 21 September 2020

Join #HistoricalFiction author, Andrew Boyce, as he shares the inspiration behind The Antonine Series #AncientRome @andrewboyceaut1


An Author’s Inspiration

By Andrew Boyce

My interest in the Romans started at a very young age. Being from Glasgow, Scotland, when driving along in my father's car as a child, we would see strange ditches, long straight roads and unexpected grassy mounds. We would come across roads called "Roman Road" and even see remains of a Roman bathhouse in Bearsden, Glasgow.

I would learn that these were features of the Roman Antonine Wall that ran across central Scotland and so the fascination with the Romans began! I began to visit museums that had Roman objects, such as the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow, seeing objects like Roman coins and Roman Milestones.

Two wonderful Roman memories from school come to mind. The first was a school activity where we each made our very own Roman helmet from cardboard, that the teacher then individually attached bright red crests to, for over thirty children! Thank you, Miss Weir! Secondly, there was a class school trip to a museum. A volunteer was asked for and one of my best friends was then equipped in the complete replica Roman uniform, armour, spear and sword. Hello, Stephen wherever you are now!

I find it amazing all the different countries in Europe, Asia and Africa that the Romans came to, each with their own remains today. Even now, new finds are still being made. You would think that we would know all there is to know about the Romans but this just isn't the case as there is still so much to be found.

Even at my Primary School, a few years before I attended, a school child had found some Roman coins in the playground field and handed them to the Headmaster. The Headmaster gave them to the museum and their descriptions were documented. Amazing! A child running about and sees the coins on the ground, having lay there for nearly 2,000 years, only recently disturbed when the field was ploughed in the construction of the school and its grounds.

Through the years, I would look out for any television documentaries of the Romans and would visit places with Roman connections. My two favourite so far are York and Chester. When visiting a Roman museum in Chester, I was busy looking at some Roman objects, when a door opened. I turned to see a Roman Centurion coming through the door in full armour and sword in arm. I thought this was part of the museum experience and that I was about to be marched into the Roman Army for the next hour. Fortunately, behind him came some school children and the whole group walked past me, the Centurion saying hello as they went by!

As well as this Roman interest, I found that I enjoyed reading and this included historical fiction from various time periods, such as Viking, Jacobite and you guessed it, Roman! There are too many great Roman Historical Fiction authors to mention and so I will mention just three - Harry Sidebottom, Ben Kane and Simon Scarrow - what wonderful works they have written.

I had an idea for a book and wondered if I could write it. I also wondered if I could then write more than one book and so all of this seemed impossible. However with the help of the latest modern technology, I have managed to reach into the past! Little by little, my book came together by writing on my smartphone, using the WPS package. I would write for a few minutes most days, usually at a quiet time, saving my spell-checked work as I went along. Before long, I had my first completed Novella and the next piece of technology rolled into play like a waiting Roman cart.

Yes, the next piece of technology was Kindle Direct Publishing Amazon (KDP Amazon). It really was very easy - I uploaded my completed smartphone book and then used their cover creator. I uploaded free Roman pictures, for example from Pixabay, then there it was, all written, spell checked, presented, published and ready to sell - "The Antonine Romans and The Golden Torque".

The second ("The Antonine Romans and The New King") and the third ("The Antonine Romans and The Redemption") have followed fairly quickly and I have now put all three together in a Compilation Book ("The Antonine Series Books 1 to 3). Again, with the miracle of modern technology, this has resulted in both ebooks and paperbacks.

I hope this description of how I managed to reach this point is helpful to people like me who had always wanted to write a book but did not know how. The technology nowadays can help make this happen and even helps with the next step - promotion!

Certainly signing up to Facebook groups and Twitter have helped to promote my work and I have found that promoting is more difficult than writing! Sometimes you can feel that you are over-promoting and accidentally step on good people's toes, on a merry go round dance, trying to sing out "Buy my book!". All I can do is to try to learn and adapt and then to get on with the writing again, which really is a great hobby.

And so there you have it! My story to date. An independent author who writes for enjoyment in their spare time, to sell on Amazon. Perhaps one day I may seek a book contract or a book contract may seek me. Enjoy reading, enjoy writing if you wish, but first of all - Go buy my ebooks or paperbacks! Seriously though, I think it is important to do things in life that you enjoy and for me, for now, that is The Romans.

The Antonine Romans and The Golden Torque

Jamis seeks revenge on the Romans for the death of his father. Nearing death, he is given a second chance & becomes a Translator for the Romans, seeking peace with the Scottish Tribes.


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The Antonine Romans and The New King

Jamis becomes a Scottish King and his life is in the balance from the Romans.

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The Antonine Romans and The Redemption

Jamis is torn between his Scottish and Roman life. Centurion Andronicus is also troubled. Both men try to find peace within themselves and with the enemy.

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From:The Antonine Romans and The Golden Torque

Chapter 1.

Centurion Andronicus felt that he had become a little hunched due to his latest posting. This seemed to be confirmed by a cold gust of wind which went through his soul, causing his shoulders to curl inwards once again. Indeed the cold, wet weather of this north-west frontier of the Roman Empire was enough to shorten any man's height, he thought, even a man of ten years service, such as he was.

This section of the Antonine Wall was built two summers ago in 142AD after various battles between the Romans and Caledonians and since then there had been only a few skirmishes in this area of Western Caledonia. Centurion Andronicus had arrived here three weeks ago and soon was the most senior soldier here, as the senior officers had been called away on secret orders. He wondered if there could be any trouble while they were away, as the scouts had reported that there was much discussions going on in the nearby settlements about growing anger of being ruled by Rome.

His one comfort was the Balmuildy Fort baths and as he went through the doorway, his shoulders uncurled with the instant heat. He nodded to his second in charge Optio Scrivinus, then eyed the jug of warm wine in the corner. At last he could have a few moments peace and after pouring himself a generous amount, he made his way to sit by Scrivinus.

Optio Scrivinus was a good man, a grizzled veteran of nearly twenty five years service, compared to Centurion Andronicus's ten years. He had wondered about retirement but he had served with this Centurion for ten years and they worked well together, all of which seemed better than hanging about the village he came from, on the edge of Rome.

Optio Scrivinus clenched his first. "This bloody Javelin Report is making me mad! How am I to reach a figure of how many javelins we have when half the unit is spread out across the length of this freezing country!"

"I don't know. But you usually find a way. Just make sure we're not all standing here with nothing in our hands the next time these hairy barbarians decide to attack." Centurion Andronicus drank some of the warm wine, then continued. "Bloody country! I wish I was retiring!"

"Don't wish your life away. I'm not so sure I want to finish up." said the Optio putting down his waxed tablet. "Besides, who else could you trust to do all your bloody administration!" Both men laughed and they started drinking more of the warm wine. They had tasted better in their time, but this would do for now.

Outside the bath house, Legionary Nastin walked past in his duty patrol around the perimeter of the camp. Hearing the laughing from inside, he sneered. He hated the Centurion and his Optio, the sooner they were gone, the better.

"Do you think there will be any trouble, Scrivinus?" Scrivinus thought for a moment. "If our leaders can't get an agreement with the locals, then yes. And if our leaders are not back here in time, you know very well who is going to have to deal with it all?"

"Us." Andronicus drained his cup. "That's more of a problem than your Javelin report." Andronicus let the heat take over his body for a final few moments. "I had better take one last look out over the parapet tonight, to sort out the next watch and to see how things look with my own eyes. Leave that bloody Javelin report for now. I've got a feeling that might be the least of our worries."

As Andronicus stepped out of the bathhouse, he expected the cold wind to make its presence with him once again. To his surprise, the weather had calmed and he made his way up to the parapet. At the top he looked out onto the open fields of grass and the edges of the forests beyond. He put on his helmet as it was not unknown for a soldier to be killed by a single, unexpected arrow, thumping into flesh, ending the silence and ending a life.

He thought he saw someone move by the trees and his eyes fixed, staring intently for the merest movement. His pulse quickened. But no further movement came and so he turned his attention to the changing of the guards, with the next watch due to begin.


Jamis stood by the edge of the trees. Although it was the dead of night, the moon in the clouds picked out the fort ahead. He watched a soldier on the palisade put on his helmet and he continued watching as the soldier looked out towards him. For a moment, Jamis wondered if the soldier had seen him, as if he was staring straight at him and he tried to stay as still as possible. After what seemed an age, the soldier turned and walked away and Jamis felt a great wave of relief.

His relief was short-lived as his thoughts turned back to two summers ago when a raiding party of Romans killed almost everyone in his village, whilst he was with friends in another nearby settlement. The dead included his father who was the tribal leader, devoted to his family and tribe, brave in battle and in death. As a result, Jamis was the last of his family and the new tribal leader and he had moved with the remaining survivors to the last westward settlement several miles away, long past the forest.

Jamis wore the golden torque of tribal leader that once belonged to his father and which he had tucked away within his tunic for now, in case any light shone his position to the fort. He came to the edge of the trees tonight to try think out his plan. How could he obtain his revenge? How could he make sense of his life? As he touched the golden torque, he felt he was no closer to either of these questions.

Being a young fit man of seventeen, son of a tribal chief, this should have been the time of his life. He would have been enjoying the hunting parties where he and his friends, together with his elders, would set off in the early mornings with their dogs, looking for deer and wild boar.

At regular intervals they would stop and take time to eat and drink, which Jamis enjoyed almost as much as the hunt. They would laugh, sometimes until it hurt, ribbing each other about their hunting styles, fitness and appetites.

He thought back with fondness to the time a wild boar stood and stared at the circle of hunters, for what seemed like an age, but would only have been moments. Then the animal suddenly decided to make a run for it, heading straight towards Jamis. All the circle watched intently as Jamis drew back his spear and fired, the spear flying through the air, striking the boar above the eyes, braking its speed until it collapsed near his feet. Jamis looked round the rest of the circle, seeing the admiration on their faces at his hunting skill.

As Jamis took a final look at the fort in front of him, he thought about the circle of that wonderous hunting day. For many it would be their final hunt, the hunter turned to hunted, slain like the noble boar, in the end by Roman javelin and Roman sword.


Andrew Boyce

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