30 November 2014

Author Interview & Giveaway: THE HEIRS OF FORTUNE by Heather Domin

This week we’re pleased to welcome our own Heather Domin to present her upcoming release, THE HEIRS OF FORTUNE. Join us on Sunday for an author interview with more details about the story behind the story. One lucky visitor will get a free copy of The Heirs of Fortune upon its release, in your choice of format. Leave your email address in the comments for a chance to win.

The Heirs of Fortune is the second book in the Valerian’s Legion series following 2009’s The Soldier of Raetia. It continues the story of Cassius Valerian, general of the 24th Legion, and his adjutant and heir Manilus Dardanus. Six months after the events of Soldier of Raetia, the 24th is invited on campaign with Rome’s most famous general: Drusus Germanicus, the stepson of Augustus who will stop at nothing to subjugate the north. Dardanus and Valerian, after spending an idyllic winter isolated from the outside world, now find themselves facing the realities of their relationship. While Valerian wrestles with reconciling public duty and personal feelings, Dardanus struggles with his multiple roles and his admiration for two very different leaders. Drusus’ ambitions will call everything they have chosen into question, until both begin to wonder if love is worth the risks it brings.

**Q&A with Heather Domin**

Can you give us a little historical context for The Heirs of Fortune?

HoF takes place in what is today Switzerland and Germany, during the height of the Augustan era in 9BC. Augustus’ stepson and top general, Claudius Drusus (known to history as Drusus the Elder or Drusus Germanicus), is about to lead his fourth campaign into Germania. Drusus is the superstar of Rome – young and handsome, beloved by his soldiers, a conquering hero on land and sea. Though Augustus has already adopted two grandsons, many assume he will name Drusus his successor when the time is right. This year Drusus has his sights set on the one prize he has yet to win: the Albis River, the farthest point north any Roman has ever been. The 24th is one of three legions accompanying Drusus on this journey from the mountain lakes of Switzerland through the dark German forests to the marshlands of the north.

What made you want to write about Drusus the Elder?

Drusus has always fascinated me. There isn’t much information about him in the historical record; Augustus wrote a biography which has unfortunately been lost, and most Roman historians mention him in passing or via hearsay. He was charismatic and intelligent, a natural leader, successful in almost everything he did, yet it seems like Augustus dangled the succession before him his entire life. Why? When I started planning this book, I knew I wanted to set it against the backdrop of Drusus’ final campaign in 9BC. I thought it would set up some interesting parallels with the personal struggles of both my protagonists. 

How was writing this book different from writing The Soldier of Raetia?

In terms of research or process it was pretty much the same, but emotionally it was totally different. I knew doing a sequel would be hard, but it was much tougher than I realized. With a first novel you have a blank slate - it’s a first introduction to a world and characters you hope people will come to care about. A sequel needs to fit into that world and stay true to the original while also having a strong enough plot to stand on its own. You’re constantly thinking about what’s best for your characters, but your readers are always in the back of your mind too. Whoever said "the only thing harder than writing a book is writing a second book" knew what they were talking about!

It’s been five years since you released SoR. Isn’t that a long time between titles?

I’m a slow writer by nature, but I didn’t intend for this novel to take as long as it did. I began working on the first draft immediately after I published The Soldier of Raetia, but in the fall of 2009 my life was derailed by a series of events that turned the next few years into a veritable crazy train. When I finally started writing again I had a tough time coming back to this story, to the point that I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to finish it. It’s been an uphill battle, and I hate that my readers have had to wait so long, but I wanted to make sure I did the best job I possibly could. Hopefully that will come through in the writing. 

What’s next for you?

I have a draft of a contemporary paranormal that I’ve been hanging onto for a while - I’m crazy in love with it and can’t wait to get it out there. Finishing and publishing that is my next goal, possibly as a serial or novella series. After that it’ll be time to write the third and last book in the Valerian’s Legion series, and after that, who knows? I dont like to plan too far ahead. (Which probably doesn’t help that whole slow writing thing.)

To learn more about the Valerian’s Legion series, visit the SoR homepage at heatherdomin.com.