About Empire of Time:
For fifteen years, the Romans of New Pompeii have kept the outside world at bay with the threat of using the Novus Particles device to alter time. Yet Decimus Horatius Pullus—once Nick Houghton—knows the real reason the Romans don’t use the device for their own ends: they can’t make it work without grisly consequences.
This fragile peace is threatened when an outsider promises to help the Romans use the technology. And there are those beyond Pompeii’s walls who are desperate to destroy a town where slavery flourishes. When his own name is found on an ancient artifact dug up at the real Pompeii, Nick knows that someone in the future has control of the device. The question is: whose side are they on?
1. Empire of Time takes place 15 years after New Pompeii. I wanted enough time to have passed to present an older, different main character (Nick Houghton). When Nick first arrived in New Pompeii, he was very much a Romanophile – too bowled over by the creation of Roman town to fully acknowledge some of the more unsavoury aspects of life transported from 79 AD. After fifteen years, Nick can no longer ignore what sort of world he’s now living in. He also finds himself in an odd position – not quite Roman enough to be fully accepted into Pompeiian society…
2. …but also no longer fully at home back in the outside world. Nick acts as ambassador for New Pompeii, and regularly flies to and from Naples where he liaises with the Bureau of Roman Affairs. However, whilst ostensibly back on “home” turf, Nick is finding the outside world becoming more and more foreign. This is also where we can see in sharp focus the differences between the Roman and our own world, particularly in relation to slave ownership.
3. Empire of Time required me to set-up two very different worlds. New Pompeii was established already, of course, but needed some tweaking to show how the replica town would have been taken on and developed by its Roman inhabitants. I also had a lot of fun constructing a modern world like ours but set a bit further into the future from that shown in the first book. One of the things I had in my mind was a society where technology remained commonplace, but where commodities we take for granted (chocolate, coffee, meat etc.) were starting to become more and more expensive due to the relationship between supply and demand.
4. I very much wanted to show Pompeii as past, present and future. As New Pompeii is set in the near-future already, what I’ve been able to do is set part of Empire of Time in ancient Pompeii (with scenes featuring a female gladiator), part in the ruins of Pompeii near Naples (as Nick flies home to act as ambassador) and part in New Pompeii. This form of ‘time travel’ between the different variants of the town hopefully ties together by the end of the book.
5. There are new characters, and some favourites from New Pompeii don’t appear. I’ve not written a sequel before, but very much wanted to closely link the cast with the story I wanted to tell: I didn’t want to have any loose scenes simply so that someone from the first book could come in and have a cameo. So I’m afraid out go Barbatus and Kirsten – and in come Habitus (bodyguard to Calpurnia and former Imperial Spy), Achillia (the female gladiator), Galbo (Nick’s steward and most important slave) and Marcus (Calpunia’s son).