Jen: Today we welcome Eva Scott back to Romancing the Book. Eva, will you please share a short bio with us?
Eva: I live on the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland Australia in the town which brought the world the Bee Gees. When I’m not writing romance you can find me out on the water kayaking, fishing or swimming. When on dry land it’s all about the shoes and the coffee (and old Bee Gees records).
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Eva: The first historical I wrote was called The Last Gladiatrix and my editor at Harlequin Escape, Kate Cuthbert, liked the minor character of Klara so much she asked me to write her story. I liked Klara rather a lot myself so was happy to oblige. So Barbarian Bride became the second book in my Romancing The Romans series.
Lucius Aurelius hummed off-key as he rummaged in his pack for a clean tunic. Tonight’s feast promised to be a hearty one with much to drink and eat. He didn’t often get a chance to eat well when travelling. The import business kept him constantly moving and he ate what he could catch or exchange with other travellers. He liked his life. True, it was not a life his father approved of, but Lucius was not the sort of man to spend too much time worrying about his father’s opinion.
The sun was well on its way to setting when he left his tent. He stood for a moment and surveyed the grass plain stretching unbroken to the horizon where the sun’s great orange orb seemed to sink into the very ground itself. Sighing contentedly he pulled on his thick coat with the eagle of Rome embroidered on the back against the increasing chill. Growing up in Rome meant warmth and endless sunshine. His bones weren’t used to the extreme changes of temperature the Great Steppes offered. Patting his pockets Lucius checked for the string of beads he’d procured from the luscious young Hun woman he’d encountered that afternoon.
Not normally given to such crass displays of boldness, something had overtaken him and he’d had her in his arms before he’d realised what he was doing. Her long hair the colour of midnight and those almond-shaped eyes, so dark as to have no end to their depths, captivated him. He could not let her go without tasting her sweet full lips and they had been delicious. If only he could convince her to share his bed… Perhaps she’d be agreeable to travel with him as his woman? Of course, she’d played hard to get but that was expected. She was a Hun and he, a Roman. It was an unlikely match although he had no doubt with her it would be a good one. Looking forward to finding her again he set off into the night humming a drinking song.
The camp was abuzz with energy and laughter. Many of the guests were far drunker than they ought to be and it looked like there would be fewer mouths to feed as a result. Fine by him. He was hungry and looking forward to the meat he smelled cooking all afternoon. No stuffed swans served here, only good old-fashioned meat and kumis. Was it any wonder he preferred to be out here in the world rather than shut up in some stuffy Roman villa pretending to be interested in inane conversation and inedible food?
It did not take Lucius long to reach the centre of the camp. The huge felt tent of the Hun chieftain, Rugila, created a backdrop to the feast laid out before it. Men and women sat shoulder to shoulder, meat piled high on platters in front of them. Children ducked and weaved, unable to sit still for excitement. He looked about until he spotted his companions.
“Bataar!” Lucius dropped down beside his friend, clapping him on the shoulder in greeting.
“Lucius, you’re just in time. Any later and Ellac here would have eaten the lot!”
Ellac replied with a mouth full of mutton, his words lost to comprehension. Lucius laughed and thumped him on the back.
“Never mind, I am here now. Pass me some of that meat.” He settled back and took a look around. The crowd was mostly Hun although there were many Mongolians, Persians and other races dotted about. He was the only Roman, the only man with light hair, so it was expected he’d attract attention. As well-travelled as he was, he’d become used to the curiosity of others. He smiled and nodded whenever he caught someone staring. Mostly people were content to look and some returned his smile. Every now and then he’d come across someone who wanted to start trouble, but that was rare and he doubted it would occur here at Rugila’s daughter’s wedding.
“Have you seen the bride?” he asked.
“She’s over there,” Ellac gestured with a shank bone. “If you ask me, Bleda has his hands full.”
Bataar chuckled. “I hear she can hunt and fight as well as any man. If Bleda steps out of line she’ll cut his balls off.” This statement sent both Ellac and Bataar into peals of laughter. Lucius peered across the gathering, the only light coming from the fire pit in the middle of the clearing. Shadowy figures of women moved back and forth, replenishing the plates of food. He looked for a large, strong woman. Surely the bride would be robust if she could outfight a man! That he’d like to see, although he’d heard Hun women were more than capable of fighting alongside their men and often did so.
“Is that her?” he asked, pointing to a thickset young woman dressed in a heavily embroidered skirt, her long hair carefully threaded with semi-precious stones. Bataar shook his head.
“No. Look a little to the left. See there? Next to Rugila, the large man with the pointed felt cap, that little fellow next to him is Bleda the groom. Next to him is the bride, Klara.”
Lucius squinted through the gloom. As the woman in question came into focus he felt the blood drain from his face. The thief! His hand went instinctively to the beads nestled in his pocket. His thief was the bride?
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
Eva: I’d like to write something more main stream, multi POV and multi stranded. A big challenge. I think I’d stay away from horror mostly because I just don’t have the imagination for it.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Eva: I’ve got loads of great resource books for Ancient Rome but researching Ancient Hun culture was a different story. Took me ages to find a great scholarly book written by an expert. Tracked down a second hand copy. The problem with the Ancient Hun was their nomadic culture meant they built very little, and wrote down nothing at all. Most of what we know comes from second hand sources and grave excavations.
Jen: If this book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the main characters?
Eva: Lucy Liu for the character of Klara. Got the right feisty attitude and looks exactly as I imagine Klara would. As for the hero, Lucius, I reckon Aaron Eckhart. Perfect! Delicious!
Jen: How do you come up with characters names?
Eva: Hard, hard, hard. Roman names are easier than ‘barbarian’ names as there are lots of lovely lists people have compiled over the years. So-called barbarian names are much harder as the resources are fewer. I shamelessly used Hun names based on Attila the Huns family. As for Klara, I couldn’t find a female Ancient Hun name for love nor money so named her for a friend of mine who is half Hungarian. Not authentic I know but I never thought Klara would have a book of her own or I might have reconsidered!
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Eva: I have a three year old so loads of time is devoted to him. Otherwise I love to get out to the water. We live in a seaside community and the ocean is just over the hill. I don’t care if I’m sitting drinking coffee in a seaside café, or kayaking, or fishing, or just wriggling my toes in the sand as long as I get to spend some time by the ocean every day.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Eva: I am currently two thirds of the way through the third Roman book. This one follows the story of a minor character from Barbarian Bride. Her name is Alexandra and she’s funny, feisty and determined. I liked her so much I invented a story for her so I could hang out with her for longer.