Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Blog Tour Guest Post + Giveaway: A Year of Ravens

Please join me in welcoming the authors of A Year of Ravens: A Novel of Boudica's Rebellion to Let Them Read Books! Last year, I was seriously impressed by A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii, their first collaboration on a novel told in parts (though a few of the authors have changed this time around). I called it "genius in its design" and named it to my Best of 2014 list.

I was honored to get the chance to provide some editorial assistance on A Year of Ravens, and I have to tell you, I think it is even better than A Day of Fire. It was a very emotional read for me. I laughed, I cried, I got angry, I felt sick, I despaired. I sat in awe of the magic that flowed from all of their pens. You're gonna love it. Read on to learn how this gifted group pulled it all together and then enter for a chance to win an awesome set of jewelry inspired by the book!

Britannia: land of mist and magic clinging to the western edge of the Roman Empire. A red-haired queen named Boudica led her people in a desperate rebellion against the might of Rome, an epic struggle destined to consume heroes and cowards, young and old, Roman and Celt . . . and these are their stories.

A calculating queen sees the sparks of revolt in a king’s death.

A neglected slave girl seizes her own courage as Boudica calls for war.

An idealistic tribune finds manhood in a brutal baptism of blood and slaughter.

A conflicted warrior hovers between loyalty to tribe and loyalty to Rome.

A death-haunted Druid challenges the gods themselves to ensure victory for his people.

An old champion struggles for everlasting glory in the final battle against the legions.

A fiery princess fights to salvage the pieces of her mother’s dream as the ravens circle.

A novel in seven parts, overlapping stories of warriors and peacemakers, queens and slaves, Romans and Celts who cross paths during Boudica’s epic rebellion. But who will survive to see the dawn of a new Britannia, and who will fall to feed the ravens?

The Magic of Collaboration
In Historical Fiction

Creativity, Steve Jobs once said, “is just connecting…and synthesizing new things.” One author writing one story is often quite limited in making new connections about a historical event or figure. But seven authors on one story can make unexpected and surprising connections in ways that transform storytelling.

That’s what the authors of the new collaborative novel about the ancient British warrior queen Boudica discovered while writing, A Year of Ravens: A Novel of Boudica’s Rebellion.

Ruth Downie, bestselling British author of the Ruso/Medicus series, found herself quite pleasantly surprised by the ways working with other authors expanded her understanding of both the history and the players involved in the complex story of the Iceni rebellion.

“As we discussed how the stories would fit together,” she explains, “things began to show up in the history that I’d never noticed before. It had never struck me, for example, that two famous and very different Queens, Boudica and Cartimandua, would have known about each other and very likely met. Their stories are told separately by the historians, but the way Stephanie [Dray] drew them together made absolute sense.”

SJA Turney, UK author of the popular series, Marius’ Mules and Tales of the Empire, agrees. “The breadth of knowledge and talent that was folded into each and every story in this way is, I think, what makes this collaboration so good,” he points out. “It was what surprised me most about the process.”

“Any one of us could have expanded our single stories out to an entire novel,” explains Kate Quinn, American author of the bestselling Empress of Rome series. “Given the inciting incident of the queen’s flogging which started things off, rising through early triumphs to final tragic defeat, it’s an arc that practically writes itself. But each of us only had a piece of the action, not the whole, and that’s an entirely new ball-game.”

According to Russ Whitfield, UK author of the Gladiatrix and Blood and Iron series, however, working with six other authors wasn’t always so pleasant. Indeed, he accuses the others of being “a bunch of divas and I’m surprised that anything got done with all the preening and posturing.”

The comic of the group, Whitfield points out that he was “only kidding.” In truth, he says, “The collaborative process was a dream.” The other writers “were incredible. They have such a breadth of knowledge on the period - big things and small things - the details that really counted and this helped me in finding my course - literally. The indomitable Ruth Downie pointed out if my guys had gone to Bath as I had it and took the route I had planned out - they’d have ended up in the Irish Sea!”

Synergy grew naturally from the collaboration. “Without planning it, we collectively tackled the broader concept of honor and its impact, good and bad,” explains Stephanie Dray, author of the upcoming historical novel, America’s First Daughter, about Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, Patsy. “For example, I didn’t know when we were plotting the novel that my narrator Decianus--who comes down to us through history as having been at fault for the entire Boudican rebellion--would be the insecure son of a woman who committed suicide to preserve her family’s honor. But the moment I read Russ Whitfield’s story about a Tribune whose penchant for dishonorable behavior leads to tragic consequences, I couldn’t shake the idea. And because Kate Quinn’s story involved many of the same characters, she was able to continue the thread.

“All of the stories started spinning around the same themes as if we’d planned them that way,” she points out. “We fed off each other’s ideas and with a mind to how our own work might say something deeper!”

The impulse to dig deeper into the realities and consequences of war from each side gives the novel its unique perspective. “We really wanted to have ALL sides of the story, which I think the reader will find,” explains Eliza Knight, award-winning author of the Tales from the Tudor Court series. “And in truth, I think both sides of this tragic part of history made mistakes.”

The end result of A Year of Ravens: A Novel of Boudica’s Rebellion proves Jobs right: together we made new connections both within and through each other’s stories. Up until the very end, we synthesized new information and new insight from each other’s characters. The process, we hope, results in a deeper, more immersive experience in the lives of the people who lived through this brutal and often heartbreaking period in history.



During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a Celtic inspired set of silver tone metal and red Swarovski crystal beads, including a necklace, bracelet, and earrings inspired by the setting of A Year of Ravens! Please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US and UK.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Year of Ravens

A Year of Ravens is on a blog tour!

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