Lindsey Davis

Lindsey Davis

Historical novelist Lindsey Davis is best known for her novels set in Ancient Rome, including the much-loved Marcus Didius Falco series, although she has also written about the English Civil War, including in 2014 A Cruel Fate, a book for the Quick Reads literacy initiative. Her examination of the paranoid reign of the roman emperor Domitian began with Master and God, a standalone novel, leading to her new series about Flavia Albia, set in that dark period.

Her books are translated and have been dramatized on BBC Radio 4. Her many awards include the Premio Colosseo (from the city of Rome) and the Crime Writers' Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement. Most recently she was the inaugural winner of the Barcino (Barcelona) International Historical Novel Prize.

Wikipedia

Lindsey Davis

Lindsey Davis (born 1949) is an English historical novelist, best known as the author of the Falco series of crime stories set in ancient Rome and its empire.
The official website

LINDSEY DAVIS

Visit the official website of bestselling historical novelist Lindsey Davis.
An interview with Lindsey Davis

On writing 'when the mood takes me'

Lindsey Davis was a guest of honour at the 2012 Historical Novel Society Conference. In this interview she talks about her books and her writing.
The author talks about the challenges of creating a new series.

Lindsey Davis

Creating a new series After I finished my big standalone novel Master and God, there were reasons why I wanted to write something a little less demanding in terms of research. Of course the reasons have been superseded, wouldn’t you know it? But by then I was really enjoying Albia. After writing the Falco books for twenty years, it was a fascinating experience to create a whole new world. Yes, there are links to my previous work, but much is different. I always intended that this should not be Falco Lite, but a strong new set of books in its own right. Thank goodness, early indications are that readers agree. I really didn’t want to write about a teenager (I’ve been one, that was enough!) and I was also keen for Albia to be fairly proficient by the time she takes the lead. While I did not have to create my heroine from scratch, we had known her when she was a child, so by jumping ahead by more than a decade I would have a woman who had in fact changed from the turmoiled adolescent who featured in her parents’ adventures. New readers can take her at face value, regulars will recognise her. I have made her a widow. Breaching the conventions of crime genre, where many detectives are miserable marital failures, I have given her a short, yet extremely happy past marriage. Falco readers will be intrigued to see who she married, though you may remember a very subtle clue or two. If she ever has another marriage, maybe that too will be a happy one. (Frequent readers of my work may be able to guess that although I haven’t planned far ahead generally, I do know the answer to that particular question…) I thought she deserved it. She has made mistakes - ah, Aulus, you foolish bastard! And in The Ides of April she makes another shocker. But isn’t it likely that a person who is very good at her job – organised, shrewd, businesslike – may at heart be quite good at life too? Although Albia says she expects nothing good to happen again, it may well be that I shall treat her kindly. I had a lot of fun with the setting for this book. I explored the Aventine much more than before, because a key location is the famous Temple of Ceres. It provided major plot aspects: the great April Festival of the Cerealia, with its unique role for women devotees and its horrible ritual of setting fire to foxes. Temple life also threw up some characters who may recur. The foxes gave me a chance to show Albia, that dog-lover from Britain, kicking against Roman tradition; she loathes the Cerialia ritual and is prepared to defy it quite bravely. As I have spent time observing urban foxes, I could draw on personal knowledge of these fascinating, controversial animals. Much of the fox lore is based on what I have seen in a garden I once had. I had other wild nature adventures there. Will Albia’s favourite dogfox, Robigo, become as noteworthy as Julia’s revived bee? Can I yet get Fledge, a mincemeat-eating baby bird, into a book?... Albia was last seen going to live in Falco’s one-time apartment at Fountain Court. She is still there, which was good fun. Readers will recognise the rotting old place – yet Fountain Court has changed, and I enjoyed describing subtle differences, especially the hilarious new landlord with his grandiose plans for the plot. Up on the Aventine, I have given Albia her own circle of acquaintances, but I used some familiar characters, even if in new guises. Familiar locations feature: Flora’s caupona has a new lease of life, changed in the way that modern cafes will change, yet horribly the same. Don’t order the hotpot. The murder plot is, for once, based on historical events. While I was writing Master and God, I came upon strange incidents that supposedly happened during Domitian’s reign: people in Rome and possibly elsewhere were killed after being attacked in a certain way (I won’t spoil the plot by giving details now). It reminded me somewhat of the notorious Mohuck episode in Georgian London, when people were attacked in the street, women especially but often victims chosen at random, giving rise to mass panic. The Mohucks were thought to be aristocratic thugs, possibly disgruntled husbands who were trying to keep their wives indoors at night (though does that explanation have a whiff of improbability?) Apparently no Mohucks were ever apprehended, but in Domitian’s Rome it is said that several of the criminals were caught and ‘punished’ (we can deduce how the punishment was carried out by the authorities…) I have used this scenario, giving Albia and some new cronies a chance to uncover one of the random killers. The final denouement will hold special poignancy for those of us who are old friends of Falco’s haunts. In this book Albia encounters more than one of Domitian’s law and order officers – with often colourful results. It’s not easy for a woman in Rome to make useful associates, but she batters away at the problem and by the end of the first book she has acquired lasting allies, one in particular who will feature again. I don’t yet know everyone who will be in this series or what will happen to them. If I did, it would be boring for me, and less fun to read. No, I have not planned out everything to the end of the series as people sometimes imagine authors do – I don’t even know how long the series will be. As a writer, I like things to develop as I go along. In The Ides of April I started to explore ideas, and by its end I had some plans – but Albia’s adventures are just as much a new journey for me as they are for you. I hope when you start reading you will want to follow with me. What next? Enemies at Home will be the second Albia novel, to be published this time next year. Like the first, it is set in Rome, though this time it moves away from the Aventine. I have not decided yet whether Albia will eventually travel abroad, though she will not be going to Britain. The second plot revolves around the guilt or innocence slaves in a household where the master and his new wife have been murdered in the course of a burglary… Well, so it seems. You need a few twists in a crime novel, don’t you? Quintus Camillus (remember him?) says ‘You know the proverbial answer: the cup-bearer did it.’ But we’ll see. Before anybody asks, will Albia ever find out who her birth parents were? The answer is, absolutely not. I mean that. It is irrevocable. My thesis with Albia is that sometimes in life there are mysteries that can never be solved. Albia herself genuinely accepts this. She has made a new life for herself in Rome, it is much better than her early years in Londinium, and she is content. The fact that she has suffered gives her an understanding of other people’s tragedies, but the past no longer torments her. More mundane authors would provide a solution to her background, but that isn’t my way. A Cruel Fate Now for news of something completely different. I am also writing a very special novel for 2014. It is in a series called Quick Reads, which are books specially written for new adult readers and those who are less confident. This is what the organisers say about the project: The Challenge 12 million adults in the UK find reading difficult and may never pick up a book. People’s reasons for not reading are varied but are often based in fear. Some people say they find books scary and intimidating, thinking they are ‘not for them’ or that books are difficult or boring. Quick Reads sets out to challenge these beliefs and to show that books can be and are for everyone. Each year we commission big name authors to write short, accessible books to literacy guidelines. The books are written in clear language and are full of the storylines, drama and emotional punch that would be found in the author’s other books. Quick Reads is making real, lasting changes to people’s lives. I was asked for a story set in the Civil War, so with great joy I am back in the Seventeenth Century, retelling what happened to various Parliamentary prisoners in the King’s prison at Oxford Castle in the winter of 1642/3. They were in the power of the appalling Provost Marshall Smith, whose regime was inhumane and degrading; many died. It has horrible resonance with modern news items about the treatment of prisoners-of-war. After that… who knows? I hope you’ll read the next newsletter in a year’s time, eager to find out. I will be interested to find out myself!
MASTER AND GOD

Lindsey Davis

Hodder & Stoughton

Pandora's Boy

Lindsey Davis
Authors:
Lindsey Davis

Flavia Albia is a private investigator, always drawn to an intriguing puzzle - even if it is put to her by her new husband's hostile ex-wife. On the Quirinal Hill, Clodia Volumnia, a very young girl with stars in her eyes, has died, amid suggestions that she was poisoned by a love-potion. It will have been supplied by a local witch, who goes by the name of Pandora, though Albia learns that Pandora carries on a trade in herbal beauty products while hiding much more dangerous connections. Pandora's beloved grandson, a trainee hack lawyer, is one of the dead girl's empty-headed friends; can this be relevant?As she homes in on the truth, Albia has to contend with the occult, organised crime, an unusual fertility symbol, and celebrity dining. She discovers the young girl was a handful; her father mediates in disputes, yet has divorced his grief-stricken wife and is now suing his own mother-in-law; Clodia's so-called friends were none too friendly. The supposedly sweet air of the Quirinal hides the smells of loose morality, casual betrayal and even gangland conflict. When a friend of her own is murdered, Albia determines to expose as much of this local sickness as she can - beginning with the truth about the death of little Clodia.'Davis's prose is a lively joy, and Flavia's Rome is sinister and gloriously real.' The Times on Sunday

Hodder & Stoughton

The Third Nero

Lindsey Davis
Authors:
Lindsey Davis

Flavia Albia's day-old marriage is in trouble - her new husband may be permanently disabled and they have no funds. So when Palace officials ask her to help expose a plotter in their midst she is obliged to accept their commission. The plot could not be bigger. Ever since he died in AD 68, apparently by his own hand, Rome has been haunted by reports that the Emperor Nero is in fact very much alive and about to return to claim his throne. Two Nero pretenders have emerged in the East and met grisly fates. But now, as the Emperor Domitian, whose tyrannical, paranoid reign grows ever more unpopular, fights a war in faraway Dacia, there emerges a far more sinister contender. What's more the rumour is that this false Nero is already in Rome. Plunged into the conspiracy, Flavia must infiltrate the house of the Parthians who have smuggled in this new impostor, negotiate with spies, dodge the assassins sent by the Palace traitor, and somehow cope with her stricken husband.Can she succeed before the impostor is revealed? Or will Rome once more be plunged into civil war?

Hodder & Stoughton

Vesuvius by Night

Lindsey Davis
Authors:
Lindsey Davis

In the late August of AD 79 the inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum are going about their normal business in the late summer heat. Two of them have a room share arrangement: Nonius, scrounger, thief and failed pimp works by night and sleeps by day; Larius, the fresco painter with dreams of artistic greatness, does the opposite. When just after midday the summit of Vesuvius disappears in a vast volcanic ash cloud, their lives will change forever. While one sets about looting rapidly emptying homes the other desperately tries to save his family from destruction.Lindsey Davis brings alive one the greatest catastrophes in human history in this gripping novella, poignantly evoking the struggle for life in the cities beneath the volcano.

Hodder & Stoughton

The Graveyard of the Hesperides

Lindsey Davis
Authors:
Lindsey Davis
Hodder Paperbacks

Deadly Election

Lindsey Davis
Authors:
Lindsey Davis
Hodder & Stoughton

The Spook Who Spoke Again

Lindsey Davis
Authors:
Lindsey Davis

Marcus Didius Alexander Postumus is a special boy. He is twelve, or perhaps eleven. He has two mothers and various possible fathers, so he worries who will take care of him. He is self-confident yet vulnerable, intelligent yet sinister. He knows not many people like him. When his birth mother, Thalia the snake-dancer, takes him to live with her troupe of exotic performers, Postumus sees it as useful experience even though it involves him mucking out menagerie cages. No one anticipates how much havoc he will wreak. On his first day a tragedy occurs. No one else cares, so Postumus decides he alone must solve this crime and impose retribution on the guilty. As son and brother to the famous investigators Falco and Albia, he knows murder is punished by execution. Postumus single-mindedly sets out to accomplish this, sidetracked by nothing, not even a rehearsal of Falco's legendary play, The Spook Who Spoke...

Hodder & Stoughton

Enemies at Home

Lindsey Davis
Authors:
Lindsey Davis

We first met Flavia Albia, Falco's feisty adopted daughter, in The Ides of April. Albia is a remarkable woman in what is very much a man's world: young, widowed and fiercely independent, she lives alone on the Aventine Hill in Rome and makes a good living as a hired investigator. An outsider in more ways than one, Albia has unique insight into life in ancient Rome, and she puts it to good use going places no man could go, and asking questions no man could ask.Even as the dust settles from her last case, Albia finds herself once again drawn into a web of lies and intrigue. Two mysterious deaths at a local villa may be murder and, as the household slaves are implicated, Albia is once again forced to involve herself. Her fight is not just for truth and justice, however; this time, she's also battling for the very lives of people who can't fight for themselves.Enemies at Home presents Ancient Rome as only Lindsey Davis can, offering wit, intrigue, action and the further adventures of a brilliant new heroine who promises to be as celebrated as Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina, her fictional predecessors.

Hodder & Stoughton

A Cruel Fate

Lindsey Davis
Authors:
Lindsey Davis
Hodder & Stoughton

The Ides of April

Lindsey Davis
Authors:
Lindsey Davis

Flavia Albia is the adopted daughter of a famous investigating family. In defiance of tradition, she lives alone on the colourful Aventine Hill, and battles out a solo career in a male-dominated world. As a woman and an outsider, Albia has special insight into the best, and worst, of life in ancient Rome. A female client dies in mysterious circumstances. Albia investigates and discovers there have been many other strange deaths all over the city, yet she is warned off by the authorities. The vigils are incompetent. The local magistrate is otherwise engaged, organising the Games of Ceres, notorious for its ancient fox-burning ritual. Even Albia herself is preoccupied with a new love affair: Andronicus, an attractive archivist, offers all that a love-starved young widow can want, even though she knows better than to take him home to meet the parents... As the festival progresses, her neighbourhood descends into mayhem and becomes the heartless killer's territory. While Albia and her allies search for him, he stalks them through familiar byways and brings murder ever closer to home. The Ides of April is vintage Lindsey Davis, offering wit, intrigue, action and a brilliant new heroine who promises to be as celebrated as Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina, her fictional predecessors.

Hodder & Stoughton

Master and God

Lindsey Davis
Authors:
Lindsey Davis

Afflicted by classic paranoia, the self-styled Master and God sees enemies everywhere. As he vents his suspicions, no one is safe. A reluctant hero, Gaius Vinius Clodianus is hand-picked for high rank in the Praetorian Guard a brave man striving for decency in a world of corruption and deceit. Flavia Lucilla, tending the privileged women at court, hears the intimate secrets of a ruler who plays with the lives of his subjects as if he were indeed a careless god. In the dark shadow of Domitian's reign, Clodianus and Lucilla play out their own complex tale of resilience, friendship and love. Unwilling witnesses to Domitian's descent into insanity, these ordinary people must choose between their sworn duty to protect the Emperor and an act of courage that will change the future of Rome.