My indie book-of-the-month for March is the fast-paced genre-busting novel Murder in Absentia, by talented Aussie author Assaph Mehr.
Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy – he whinged horribly when they dragged him to “yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling”, yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art. He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin. Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife Julia, four kids and two cats. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he’s writing – he seems to do his best writing after midnight.
Straight to the hard questions… The short version is “historical fantasy” – it’s a semi-historical setting mixed with fantasy elements.
The more complete description would be, “an Historically-themed Urban High-Fantasy Noir Detective Mystery (with a splash of Horror)”. Or, as some readers told me, “Harry Dresden in a Toga”.
It is indeed. However since writing it I have published several (free) short stories on my blog (Nikki’s Note: Check out Assaph’s website here and get a taste for his writing with some free short stories!), and am now working on the second novel. Each one is a different “case”, so they are semi-independent.
The first draft took just over four months. It took about the same to edit, plus another couple of months for the publication process. Pretty nifty, though somehow I find it harder to find the time now. I blame the baby (born just before I published J)
When I started writing, I knew the twist in the end – but not exactly how it was done (think of it as a sort-of locked room mystery). I kept complicating things for the protagonist. At some point in the novel, one of his friends still says he has to explain the impossible. That was half a note for myself…
But then it all came together beautifully. The mystery with its underlying twist marrying the rich world-setting, for a truly unique and satisfying resolution.
A lot! I have read a lot of material about ancient Rome (have been for year), both online and from published historians (like Adrian Goldsworthy and others). I have looked particularly for accounts about Roman daily life – from the calendar system to the cuisine. Everything from the sword-fighting techniques, to the dishes served, to the curses and profanity is historically accurate!
Get more reviews from ARC readers ready for the publication time; get a professional cover done ahead as well.
Never skimp on a good editor or a good cover artist! Find experienced professionals you are comfortable working with, and make sure your book is polished and professional looking.
I’ve been training martial arts for almost 30 years. Started with Krav Maga (the Israeli Military martial art), did some Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu and a bits of pieces of other arts in between. I know do an internal branch of Wing Chun.
Yet despite all that, I am a pacifist at heart. I like martial arts for the sport that taxes both mind and body, but I’ve never actually used them.
The next Felix mysteries. I have ideas for at least two or three more books.
After that… I will probably try something different. A retelling of the Crimean War – with steampunk elements thrown in. One thing for sure – writing is addictive, and I aim to continue for as long as I can!
Thank you, Assaph, for your candid answers and for taking the time to chat with us today. I’d like to encourage everyone to support this talented author (and get a thrilling read in the process) by downloading a copy of Murder in Absentia now by clicking on the cover:
Join me for Indie Book-of-the-Month in April when author J.S. Burke takes us on a flight of fantasy through her novel, The Dragon Dreamer.
See you on the next page!
If you’d like your novel to be featured in the Indie Book-of-the-Month author series, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just give me a brief summary of your novel and the genre, point me to where it “lives” (Amazon, a personal website, brick-and-mortar bookseller) so I can pick up a copy, and include a short bio. Please DO NOT offer me a free copy (unless you are currently running a special on your novel). I like to support my fellow indies and I also prefer to be able to operate free of perceived bias!
Please give me two weeks to answer all queries — I don’t have “people” to help me out yet, so things can move slowly at times!
Thanks so much for you interest and for your support of other indie book authors!