A little introduction:
My name is Fiona Forsyth and after teaching Classics in a boys’ school for 25 years, I write novels set in ancient Rome, specifically the first century BCE.
When did your love of books begin?
I cannot remember ever not loving reading. At school the reading scheme would occasionally use Greek myths and I would look through every new book to find out provided there was a story approximately Heracles or Perseus or some monster. That was my introduction to the ancient world.
When did you start to have the wish to become an author?
Hand in hand with reading goes writing, I think. You finish a great read and think, “I wish I could do that!”
How have you found the process for becoming an author?
I needed an idea and a bit of space. The ideas were not a problem: I taught Latin and ancient history for twenty-five years, and this was a source of intrigue, brilliant characters and settings. When my family moved to the Middle East, there were no jobs for Latin teachers, so I had the time. I self-published because I never thought any publisher would want to publish my books. When I had written my third novel, I felt a little more self-assured – I had gone on a Curtis Brown course and really enjoyed the experience which also boosted my confidence. So I took a chance and sent off the manuscript to a publisher that specialises in history.
What would you say to those wanting to become an author?
The occasion you write, you are an author, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It doesn’t matter provided you don’t publish, self-publish or find a publisher, you are an author. Write and join a community which makes you feel comfortable. There are free resources, a fantastic Twitter writing community, writers’ groups online and in real life. You will find your writing family.
Tell us about your book/books:
For me ancient Rome has it all – vibrant characters, a culture that is both civilised and brutal, intriguing politics. There is a world where you can set mysteries or family sagas and never tire of it. As I taught, I would come across anomalies and think to myself, “There is a narrative in that.” I am now finishing the third in a trilogy following a young upper class lawyer (Lucius Sestius – he was real person) navigating the downfall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the first emperor, Augustus. He lives through a time of civil war, gets involved in political conspiracy and still make sit to the top office, consul, in 23 BCE. My other novel is a stand-alone following the long life of Junia Tertia, who was married to Cassius and sister to Brutus – Caesar’s assassins. Given that her mother was Caesar’s mistress, this must have made for some interesting family dynamics…
What do you love about the writing/reading community?
The endless optimism and support. Feeling a bit down or stuck? Put out a tweet and someone will make you feel better approximately your writing.
If you could say anything to your readers what would it be?
Read for pleasure and don’t finish a book whether you aren’t enjoying it. I don’t want anyone to find reading my books a chore and I take the view that no book is going to be up everyone’s street. My favourite at the second is Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy and I have met plenty of people who couldn’t get on with it. It does not imply criticism of the books or of the readers.
Where can people connect with you?
My Twitter account: @for_fi
I also have a website: https://fionaforsythauthor.co.uk where I post material applicable to the world of my books, such as maps and articles about the real-life characters.