I was curious about his views of the French, but it turns out the English just might have a more positive attitude than the French. It’s something I’ve never understood and after sixteen years of living in France, I’m still surprised every time a Frenchman dislikes the English on principle.
How did the setting of your story impact your writing?
‘Last Prophecy of Rome’ starts and ends in the Italian capital. The story draws strongly on parallels between modern times and the ancient Roman empire.
How or why is the setting important to who your character is?
My hero is a maverick military historian – he understands war, and is struck by how the Roman Empire thrived on its conquests.
Which location did you enjoy writing the most in your story? Why this one?
The final scene, in the Pantheon, was perhaps the most fun. I had to draw on artistic licence to imagine that just two people could be in that most remarkable of churches. But the acoustics are amazing – even when you just write about them!
Have you visited France?
Yes, several times. I love it. I located on of the main scenes in my first thriller, ‘Secrets of the Last Nazi’, in the Forest of Compiègne, near where the armistices of November 1918 and June 1940 were signed.
When you visited France, which location did you prefer?
It depends on my mood! Parts of Paris are wonderful, but I also had a great trip to Normandy last year, and loved visiting all the historical sites associated with D-Day.
What gave you the greatest cultural shock when in France?
It has to be the language! I’ve forgotten all the French I learnt at school, and it takes me ages to try to decode what people are saying. And I usually get it wrong!
Which part of the French archetype did you discover to be wrong? Right?
There’s a presumption in some parts of Britain that French people are rude, or snooty. But I don’t think it’s true at all: they almost all seem very nice, polite and helpful. I’d say they tend to be more amenable than many British people.
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