Friday 29 June 2018

Post Holiday #Hectic-ness!

Can it possibly be Friday again?

Since I returned home from my Baltic Cruise last weekend, I've been intending to write a blog entry every day. But first there was the inevitable unpacking and laundry of two full cases of daytime wear and then the changes for the evening. I love cruising but it's a lot harder work than wearing a T-shirt and jeans all day long!

Then there was the preparation for an author presentation that I did on Wed 27th June to a group of around 35 men at their PROBUS (professional and business retirees) club in the nearby town of Banchory, Aberdeenshire. Their agreed subject was Roman Scotland with emphasis on Roman Aberdeenshire - and with a mere mention of my novels at the end and how they fit in with the invasions of the two main known Ancient Roman aggressors in Aberedeenshire: General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola (A.D 84) and Emperor Septimius Severus (A.D. 210). I have a basic template for this type of talk but I do tweak it to suit the group I'm attending and give as local a tie to it as possible. The time frame can also mean some adjustments.

Some of the groups I've attended want no more than a half hour of presentation and then 15 minutes questions.  Others, like Banchory PROBUS men's group (I've already spoken to the women's group  some time aga) want a full 45 minutes presentation and 10 minutes of questions.

I practised my timings on Monday in between visits from my grandkids, whom I'd missed a lot on my holiday. Tuesday was an official childminding day for me,  so there's no realistic time for writerly things with a 4-year-old boy around me, and a 6-year-old girl joining us after school. I'm delighted I put in the effort to tweak the PowerPoint presentation because the timing was excellent and I don't think I forgot anything I wanted to mention!

The audience were extremely receptive, especially given the heat in the conference room was about 25 deg C. The questions were excellent, most likely the best I've ever been asked. Thankfully my general knowledge of Roman Britain was able to stand up to them.

I didn't sell as many books that day as I'd have liked, but chances are that some will be bought when the guys have access to cash, which a few said they don't bring to their meetings, not expecting to pay for anything on the day. I declined a lunch with them afterwards, though I was very tempted to join them.

It was encouraging to be asked if I would talk to another PROBUS group in the city of Aberdeen - to which I definitely said I'd be delighted to.
Septimius Severus -Wikimedia Commons

Last night, I picked up an email from one of the attendees which complimented my talk. The gist being that  "This article in the Independent shows your talk to Banchory Probus was right up to date."

I can think of no better compliment than that since the article was about the almost perfect bronze "Hand of Jupiter Dolichenus' which was recently uncovered at Vindolanda fort on Hadrian's Wall. Though I didn't refer directly to the 'hand', I had mentioned the fabulous finds at Vindolanda. What I had mainly referred to was the brutal campaign of Emperor Septimius Severus in Scotland in A.D. 210.

The article in the Independent newspaper by Archaeology corespondent David Keys is definitely worth a read - in my opinion - though nowadays you have to read the comments section with a pinch of salt, just like you have to read Tacitus and Cassius Dio.

I'm now back in harness, writing-wise so expect another post today (very soon) which will restart my Friday Historical Series.

Tomorrow, I'll be back to Banchory to sign and sell my novels at the FOCUS Fair in the Town Hall. Pop in and say hello, if you live anywhere near.


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