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Author Interview: Harry Sidebottom

Author Interview: Harry Sidebottom

Today I am pleased to welcome Harry Sidebottom on to the blog with a quick interview! He’s come up with some fascinating answers!


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
The feeling at the end, after all the long months of research and the hard slog of writing, when at long last the novel is finished! Every time I look back and wonder how it happened.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Ballista, the hero of The Last Hour, is my favourite character. In many ways he just wants to live a quiet life, but circumstances, and something in his nature, make him step up and do the right thing.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Tea. I drink far too much tea. Although quite often, as I get into the writing, I forget there is a cup getting cold somewhere on the desk.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Lots: muttering to myself, and finding other things – anything but writing – that I just have to do. And smoking. If it is going very badly, I go and buy a packet of cigarettes. Being an author is bad for your health!

How do you research your books?
First I draw up lists of the classical sources and modern scholarship that I need to read. Having been an ancient history don at Oxford for some twenty years, I know my way around the area. While reading, I try to visit every location in the novel.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I plot out the beginning and the end, but let the novel take me where it wants in between.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
The world created in the series A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell. It was the world my father knew. Also, the Second World War aside, it was a safe and civilized world.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Alexander the Great from the trilogy by Mary Renault. Actually I am cheating. I want to be a companion to the historical Alexander. But only cheating a bit, as it was Renault`s novels that first interested me in Alexander. Why? Because the world is still young, and there to be conquered by our intelligence and courage.

About the book

A lone figure stands silhouetted atop the Mausoleum of Hadrian. Behind him, the sun is setting over the centre of the known world. Far below, the river is in full flood. The City of Rome lies spread out before him on the far bank. Footsteps pound up the stairs. He’s been set up. An enemy is closing in; he is cornered. He jumps.

Bruised and battered, he crawls out of the raging river. He is alone and unarmed, without money or friends, trapped in a deadly conspiracy at the heart of the Empire. The City Watch has orders to take him alive; other, more sinister, forces want him dead. As the day dies, he realises he has only 24 hours to expose the conspirators, and save the leader of the world. If the Emperor dies, chaos and violence will ensue. If the Emperor dies, every single person he loves will die.

He must run, bluff, hide and fight his way across the Seven Hills.

He must reach the Colosseum, and the Emperor.

He must make it to The Last Hour.

About the Author

HARRY SIDEBOTTOM took his Doctorate in Ancient History at Oxford and has taught at various universities including Oxford, where he lectures in Ancient History.

His first book Ancient Warfare: A Very Short Introduction was published in 2004 to critical acclaim and he has published numerous chapters in books, and articles and reviews in scholarly journals. His foray into fiction began with Fire in the East, the first of his six-novel ‘Warrior of Rome’ series, which has sold over half a million copies worldwide. His next series, Throne of the Caesars, was equally acclaimed. The Last Hour, his tenth novel, introduces us once again to Marcus Clodius Ballista, hero of the ‘Warrior of Rome’ books.

Website. Facebook.

Would you want to like to be friends with Alexander the Great?

One Comment

  • Janet Gogerty

    I think I would prefer to be one of the ordinary people in the background, being friends with great leaders can be dangerous and I’d rather meet them in the safety of a novel!

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