Eclectic Musings (and Murderous Muses)

Salvete! Gratam hac nocte scriptor collectio… Err, nope. My Latin is still horrible. Welcome to tonight’s collection of random musings — mostly murderous muses 🙂


I’m still on a bi-weekly posting schedule, and sometimes even sorting through my notes is a challenge. (Not because of my note-taking skill; no, not that at all). So here’s just a random collection of muses and murders to appease the curiosity of all you wonderful blog visitors.

Tiberius. Imperial Detective.

Last month I reviewed A Fatal Thing Happened on the way to the Forum. If you haven’t been convinced to go and get it from my review (why? what’s wrong with you? what’s wrong with my reviews? why are we even talking about this?), then Atlas Obscura published an excerpt of the book. Read it here (lots of pretty pictures), then come back (save the rabbit hole for another day).

This is about the time Tiberius (the emperor) got involved in a murder investigation and did the unthinkable – went over to look at the scene of the crime. No wonder the senators didn’t like him. He put facts ahead of their pretty little speeches.

Tiberius was, like most of the Julio-Claudians, probably nothing as much as the popular image paints him. The ‘popular image’ is often based on Robert Graves I, Claudius, which in turn is based primarily on Suetonius, the ancient Romans equivalent of The Kardashians. (Read the above book to understand exactly how much our sources and views of Ancient Rome are skewed).

Did you know that Tiberius repeatedly told the senate to grow some balls and take the republic back in hands, but their response was always “nah, mate, we need an emperor”? The man was trying to do the right thing, but his biographers had an agenda. See here for another example, about his famed treason trials.

That’s why history is such a fascinating subject, with so much room for interpretation and potentials for the enterprising novelist to play around.

Digression: World-building

Speaking of enterprising novelists, building an historical-fantasy world is like psoriasis. Once it’s under your skin, there’s nothing you can do but sit back and go with it (#sorrynotsorry).

I’ve spoken last time about sending Felix out to do my interviews, but when my good friend Eric Klein (author of The One, a SciFi adventure), invited me to do the 100th interview on his world-building blog, I just had to give it my full attention. (And not only because there are certain aspects I’d rather Felix not look too deeply into, or there will be stern words).

So I’ve covered the itch, the muse, and the fish-sauce that made me make up Egretia. It’s the most practical advise I can give about creating memorable worlds and on annoying your neighbours to tears (or both). Readers often gush about the book-hangover they get from Felix’s novels, my family praises my rich sauces, and other authors are impressed by my advice. I may have exaggerated slightly, but you can find the interview on Eric Klein’s blog here.

Rabbit Hole: Debunking Myths

Lastly, back to the world of useless trivia, rabbit holes, and dead Romans, here’s one of those interminable “10 things you didn’t know about ancient Rome!!!11” lists – but with a key difference. This one contains actually verifiable stuff, not your standard drivel.

In fact, it’s a counter-list to the inaccurate drivel (no, Romans didn’t brush their teeth with urine. You know it’s yuck, and unsurprisingly so did they). It also ties in neatly into the ‘popular perception’ angle of the first section above. Here’s rankr’s debunked Roman myths.

(If you were surprised by any of them, you’re clearly not spending enough time on this blog!)


That’s it for now. I’m editing ever so slowly and my reading of late has been professional non-fiction (which I won’t put up on this blog, except to say that if you’re in software you bloody well need to read The Inmates Are Running The Asylum and anything else Alan Cooper has written), so I’m not sure what the next post will be about.

Let put it to a vote: should I blog next about a review of Scrivener 3 for Windows vs yWriter7, or more Ancient Roman trivia? Leave a comment!


Enjoying the posts, but wondering who the heck is that Felix fellow and where exactly is Egretia? Glad you asked! He’s the protagonist of the Togas, Daggers, and Magic series, an historical-fantasy blend of a paranormal detective on a background inspired by ancient Rome.

Come meet Felix and his world on the free short stories and novels!

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