Monday, 18 May 2015

Guest Post and Giveaway: Alison Morton on Writing Trilogies

Alison Morton's ROMA NOVA trilogy
Trilogies. As a reader, I love them. What is more satisfying than following a set of characters off into a new adventure, the sheer joy of seeing them develop as people, facing up to new challenges, discovering new family secrets or buried treasure or resolving long and bitter rivalries over the generations? Or perhaps they have a more internal theme focusing on the emotional ups and downs of three generations of women who come to live in a new country and pass wisdom up and down the family chain.

But I’m also a serial reader.

When I put the third book of a trilogy down, I’ve been known to sniff, gulp and reach for a strong cup of tea. The world I have loved for nearly three hundred thousand words has shut its door, the characters have vanished to the other side of nowhere.  Then to my joy (and not a little relief) I discover the author has written a fourth book, a follow-on. I have my credit card out before you can say ‘Harry Potter’.

As a writer, it’s both similar and different. When I started my first novel, INCEPTIO, I had no idea what I was doing. Writing was an impulse, a reaction to a dire film and thinking I could produce something better. But not even halfway through the first draft, I realised I had a far bigger story than I’d anticipated.

So I did the classic thing - I turned it into a trilogy.

The trilogy dilemma
SUCCESSIO, the last Roma Nova thriller in the original trilogy, set off into the world last June. The heroine had finished her journey with birth and deaths, traumas and triumphs, and I had closed her file on my computer. Now for wine, sun and leisure.

But one of the main secondary characters was whispering in my head, ‘Tell my story. You know you want to. Think of all those readers, begging for more. You’ll get fat, lounging by the pool. Get back to work!’


Yes, this was the tough, no-nonsense Praetorian Aurelia Mitela insisting. Now, it’s not good for your future health if you disobey a Praetorian special forces officer, let alone one who’s also one of the most powerful women in Roma Nova. And her story of undercover work, loss, struggle and living at the most dangerous time in Roma Nova for three centuries – the Great Rebellion – was too tempting.

So begins a second trilogy within the Roma Nova world; it starts in the late 1960s with AURELIA and reaches to the 1980s. Fascinating how technology and attitudes have changed in fifty years! Research traps abound; some inventions we think recent were around in the late 1960s, others are surprisingly modern.  

This time round, I have the benefit of my own experience plus Roma Nova is familiar territory. But the gods punish hubris so I re-read the first trilogy and marked up the passages that referred back to the times when Aurelia had been a young woman. With a new three-book cycle within an established series, readers can start their Roma Nova adventure with AURELIA without having to plough through the first three.

But I do hope they will be so entranced, they'll want to go back and grab the first three books!

 AURELIA is out now in ebook (various formats) and paperback.

AURELIA: available now on Amazon
 Late 1960s Roma Nova, the last Roman colony that has survived into the 20th century. Aurelia Mitela is alone – her partner gone, her child sickly and her mother dead – and forced to give up her beloved career as a Praetorian officer.

But her country needs her unique skills. Somebody is smuggling silver – Roma Nova’s lifeblood – on an industrial scale. Sent to Berlin to investigate, she encounters the mysterious and attractive Miklós, a known smuggler who knows too much and Caius Tellus, a Roma Novan she has despised and feared since childhood.

Barely escaping a trap set by a gang boss intent on terminating her, she discovers that her old enemy is at the heart of all her troubles and pursues him back home to Roma Nova...

Read about Alison and Roma Nova:
Connect with her on Facebook:
Twitter: @alison_morton


A signed copy of AURELIA (paperback) is available to one of our lucky readers!

Just comment below, telling us whether you prefer to read stand-alone fiction or a series like a trilogy, and your name will be entered into a draw. (UK only)

The draw will take place on Monday 25th, so please do remember to check back to see if you've won!


  1. Thanks for inviting me to contribute to your prestigious blog, Victoria.
    Many more nitty gritty (read mundane) hints and tips about trilogies here:

  2. I rarely read stand-alone books these days. In me youf I read practically everything that was available, but preferred my parents' collection of detective fiction, and as the years have gone on that's where my taste lies. Although writing a series can be a bit of a trial sometimes, it's very gratifying when readers tell you how much they love the characters and the places.

  3. I love writing trilogies and series - it means you can really build up a character and develop their relationships with other characters over the course of a series in a way you can't achieve with standalone fiction. Plus, it feels more like a solid project with plenty of time to build sales longterm, whereas a standalone book comes out, that's it, that's your only window for making sales and getting attention for it. With a sequel or two, you get another few bites at the cherry in terms of discoverability. Lovely to have you on the blog, Alison! Vx

  4. I love reading series. I get really attached to characters and love to follow their stories as far as possible. In fact, like Lesley I rarely read standalone novels now. Good luck with your new books, they look well worth checking out.

  5. I enjoy series, providing the quality starts and remains high. The excitement of knowing the newest book in a beloved series has just been released! It tops even the excitement of seeing a new standalone book by a favourite author has just come out. I look forward to sampling the Nova Roma series, which I haven't previously come across.

  6. Series are so reassuring to read; you meet some of the same characters, plus you find out different things about the series' world each time you read a new volume. I'm a confirmed 'serial' reader as well as writer.

  7. I enjoy both series and standalone novels. Just started Inceptio, and I can tell I'm hooked.

  8. Thanks for checking out the Roma Nova books, Martha, Judi and Mary Ann.
    I'm halfway through writing the next one in the series, which directly follows AURELIA, but is set twelve years further on in the early 1980s. There is much plotting and picks up on some of the mysteries from earlier in the series...

  9. And the WINNER of this Alison Morton Giveaway is ... JUDI MOORE!

    Thanks for commenting, everyone. And good luck with the book, Alison.

    Judi, if you could email me your contact details for the signed paperback of AURELIA, my email is



Thank you for joining the 52 Ways debate by commenting!

If signing in via the anonymous option, it would be useful if you could mention your real/writing name or nickname, so that if anyone wants to respond to your comments, they can address you directly.

Many thanks, Jane Holland