I thought of requesting Tom to share some of the backstage details with us about his highly engrossing historical fiction, “Lost Scrolls of Archimedes.” I hope you enjoy this insightful interview from one of our favourite award winning authors.
What’s your niche?
I’m the author of the historical fiction novel, Lost Scrolls of Archimedes, published by Raven Cliffs Publishing LLC, a company I started.
Tell us about yourself
Everyone takes a different road to write a book. Some people know early on that they want to have a career as a writer. Others plug in at various stages of their life either full time or as a side gig. My passion had always been on hard science, math, and computers. In school and college, I was told I wrote well, but I didn’t see that as my path—yet.
After satisfying my obligation to serve four years in the Air Force, I went to graduate school and landed a job in aerospace engineering. I raised two kids and moved around before ending in Atlanta. After decades in software and engineering, I still enjoyed the work, but I was longing for something more creative. So, I dabbled at writing a book and took some courses, but nothing substantial came of it. Then, seeing another downsizing coming on, I left the techie world and turned to writing.
Tell us about your book
I had always enjoyed ancient history, especially Roman history. Even before I left my tech career, I starting researching the first century B.C. Some kernels of my science and engineering life were still rattling around in my head. I started to think about articles I had read revealing that the ancients were far more advanced than we ever suspected even ten years ago. I figured I could make a story out of the concept that the ancients may have made discoveries that are unknown to history.
The best place for that to occur was in Alexandria, Egypt in the third century B.C. There was a window of time where four giants in ancient science and technology lived and worked at the awesome Library of Alexandria.
One of those was Archimedes. The Library had been established by Ptolemy, one of Alexander the Great’s generals. Cleopatra was his descendent and last of the Ptolemy pharaohs. With this rich soup of ideas, I made a couple of fitful starts as I learned the craft of novel writing.
I worked with an editor, Terra Weiss, for several months to develop an outline for the story that would become Lost Scrolls of Archimedes. I spent another five months writing the first draft. But it took nearly two more years to finally get the book published.
The protagonist, Marcus, living in Alexandria during Cleopatra’s reign, comes into possession of encrypted scrolls written by Archimedes and friends. To prove his scholarly chops to his father and avoid a life as a merchant, Marcus attempts to decode the scrolls. But others are seeking the scrolls’ knowledge, and Marcus comes into conflict with them. He has to grow in the story from sheltered scholar to a leader of men. He also has his first love, so the book is also a coming-of-age story.
Marcus is motivated by a desire to make the world a better place, and he sets a goal to use the knowledge in the scrolls to help end slavery in the Roman world. Yes, it a huge ambition, but Marcus thinks he can pull it off with help from Cleopatra and Marc Antony. There’s a whole bunch of adventure, a little romance, some moral dilemmas, some techie stuff, a climactic sea battle, and … well, you have to read it for the rest.
How do you promote your book?
I was a late bloomer in social media, but I do use it to promote my book. I’ve bought a few FaceBook ads, but I like to use FaceBook groups to find the readers who might find my book to their liking. I also have a mailing list I’m building, so I use email marketing. I have author profiles on BookBub and Goodreads, and I’m building my following on both. I have a website as well. I have also used Zavesti to promote my book to their members.
Tell us about your creative journey
As I mentioned earlier, I arrived at writing after a career in technology. I had always had a desire to write a book someday, though I never thought it would be as hard as it turned out to be.
Once I cobbled together an outline (yes, I’m a planner), the writing of the first draft proceeded fairly smoothly, until about the midpoint. That’s when my dog, Dudley, who I’d had for 12 years, died. He had been a constant presence by my side as I wrote, so I was pretty torn up, and my writing came to an abrupt halt. After a couple of weeks, with support from my wife, Charlotte, I resolved to finish in memory of the good times I had with him.
But finishing the book was only the end of the beginning. Rounds and rounds of editing finally produced something I was proud of. But I knew the book would be a hard sell, and I ended up despondent after 40 rejections of my query letter.
It all turned around when in 2019 the book won first place for unpublished historical fiction and fourth in all genres at the Royal Palm Literary Awards held annually by the Florida Writers Association. It gave me the confidence to self-publish. I spent several months learning all about self-publishing before releasing the book through KDP on Amazon and worldwide through Ingram Spark. I could finally think of myself as an author.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the second in my Lost Artifacts series, the sequel to Lost Scrolls of Archimedes. Marcus plans to make his way to India. Right now, I’m doing a lot of research as I’m headed into areas that are new to me. But I can promise that adventures will occur along with a few twists and another ancient technology discovery.
Promotions and Giveaways
I have two promotions coming out in August, one on BookFunnel and one on BookSweeps. Links are on my website https://www.TomRobertsAuthor.com
I have a blog I started on my website: https://www.TomRobertsAuthor.com/blog
In my first entry, I discuss why I decided to keep Lost Scrolls of Archimedes within the boundaries of historical fiction and not wander into things like alternate history or historical fantasy. Though the latter is a genre I might explore in the future.
I believe many readers, when they think of ancient historical fiction, think of either military fiction with a lot of bloody battle scenes or a mystery with a lot of political intrigue. My book has some of that, but I tried to make my story about grander concepts and to illuminate that the ancients weren’t just a bunch of backward peoples squabbling over land and gold. They were the first discoverers of knowledge that many think were breakthroughs of the modern industrial era. Besides the exciting adventures in the book, I hope readers find a new respect for the ancient scholars and scientists that first shed light on many aspects of mankind’s knowledge store.
Thank You so much for talking to us Tom! I loved your book and I think it is one of the best and most engrossing historical fiction I have read in a long time. Looking forward to the sequel and wish you much success!!!
Note: If you are interested you can also read our review of Tom’s book here: Completely Engrossing Historical Fiction: Lost Scrolls of Archimedes by Tom Roberts