Novelist Nick Brown may share his name with another historical fiction author who penned the Agent of Rome series, but what makes his books stand out – including the latest release from his Luck Bringer series, The Wooden Walls of Thermopylae, set in ancient Greece – is that he lives and breathes the very history he is writing about.
“They’re based on a lifetime of research. You have the 300 films that have been out but if you want to know what really happened my books tell you it. What happened was more edgy and much more exciting and more believable than the films are,” says Nick.
Former archaeologist Nick has spent his life immersing himself in the period, having studied the era at university and worked extensively with Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit and the West Yorkshire Unit and visiting Greece many times to glean as much information as he can to ensure his books are authentic.
Picking up from where the previous book left off, where the Athenians risked everything to confront the formidable Persian army at Marathon, The Wooden Walls tells the tale of the aftermath. Main character Mandocles and his friends await the Persian king’s revenge in a story riddled with political betrayal and brimming with sexual intrigue.
For Nick, what makes the era so alluring is how instrumental the Battle of Marathon was in shaping the democracy we have today.
“The Battle of Marathon saved democracy because if the Greeks had lost, it would have been wiped out, so there’s a period of about 50 years where the Greeks created democracy and defended it against massive odds and if that hadn’t have happened the whole history of the world would be completely different.”
Mandocles is introduced as a naive teenager in the first book but is weathered by life’s experiences by the second. “He can see, like all of us, how life changes you and how there’s nothing that doesn’t come at a price so it’s a sort of progression,” explains Nick.
Nick reveals how in his protagonist, he unintentionally invented a character that was intertwined with his own personal experiences.
“Funnily enough I’ve had quite a lot of hard things happen to me. I’ve had to deal with some racial murders at one point, and riots, and it was only when I finished writing this book and I looked at it again and saw that actually some of the sort of real anxieties I’ve got myself I’ve put into Mandolces, so I think he’s a very real and believable character.”
Nick was awarded an OBE to mark his work in trying to bring more racial acceptance and equality to Oldham Sixth Form College.
“I was head at a school where a student was shot dead and there was a lot of race trouble after that which I had to deal with and because of that I was asked to run the Oldham Sixth Form College. The idea was to have a really good multi-racial college in the centre of Oldham.”
The college was the first of its kind and making it a reality was often a stressful job, so for Nick writing was the ideal form of escapism.
“The college and the school I had been at before had had a lot of opposition. Oldham was a fairly rough place and there was quite a lot of racial tension I had to deal with so starting to write the books took me into a different world completely.”
The experience at the college has inspired Nick so much so that after he has written a few more books, including the third in The Luck Bringer series – which will take it up to the end of the Persian wars – he plans to pen a novel about the politics of racial murder, its consequences and how people really behave.
For now though, Nick is just finishing the third in his supernatural series, Dark Coven, which he hopes to publish at the end of the year. Like his historical fiction books, Nick’s supernatural horror Ancient Gramarye series is inspired by his personal experiences.
The Wooden Walls of Thermopylae is available online now at such retailers as amazon.co.uk.
“It’s a good story with a good love interest; it has things to say about the role of women in Greece and how they operated which haven’t been said before. If people found them half as exciting to read as I have found writing them then I think they’ll really enjoy it,” Nick says.
TNT Lifestyle Jayna Patel