From Royston to Rome – Linda tells of journey to writing success as third book published

Linda Trafford with her new book Otho's Regret.

Linda Trafford with her new book Otho's Regret. - Credit: Archant

On her busy commuter train, one Royston mum finds herself immersed in Ancient Rome’s bloody battles, decadence and debauchery all before her feet reach the platform at King’s Cross.

Linda Trafford has now written three books in her Four Emperors series, Palatine, Galba’s Men and Otho’s Regret – the latter hit bookshelves on Monday.

She told the Crow how it all began: “I had always written bits and bobs but never finished anything, I went to university and studied ancient history – it was three years of learning about Romans, it was perfect for me.

“I loved every bit but it wasn’t until we got to 69AD – the year of the four emperors – that the idea of the book came to me. I wondered what the slaves were thinking, I wanted to find out more about them.

“It started off as one very long book – I wrote 500,000 words in 18 months – so it turned into a second, a third and a fourth.

Linda, who works as a database analyst in London, wrote everyday on her commute to work.

She said: “My job and my writing aren’t too dissimilar – with plots you have to make everything fit, and with history you are looking for a truth amongst all the noise – that’s what you do looking at data.

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“I would spend my train journeys immersed in Ancient Rome, when I got off at Kings Cross I had to remind myself where I was.

“I also write in my lunch break, and once I had to kill off a main character in my lunch – I had to go to quite an important meeting afterwards I had to take a minute, because it takes its toll.” After writing the first book, Linda enquired about getting it edited professionally, and after months of hard work writing and juggling her home life, she had a stroke of luck and things fell into place.

She said: “I asked my friend who works in the industry for costs of getting it edited professionally, she sent it to contacts at publisher Karnac where she works, they loved it and wanted to publish all four novels.

“It was great that they loved ancient Rome too and wanted to get behind the books.”

At first, she didn’t tell anyone she had a book deal except her husband Andrew, with whom she has children Samuel, six, and Patrick, four, but soon developed quite a following.

“There is extra pressure, because now I have to get the book done, and because I have a fan base – a good mix of people who want to know what happens next.

“I am excited about Otho’s Regret - as it’s about the Roman Army and people know lots about the army so they want to see my take on it.

“People are getting sent their ordered copies now so it’s scary but it is nice to see what they think, it makes it all worth it.”

You can buy Otho’s Regret by LJ Trafford via Amazon, Waterstones, Heffers Bookshop in Cambridge. The Four Emperors Series is published by The Karnac Library and the fourth novel Vitellius’ Feast will be out in June 2018.