A Coldingham author is enjoying the publication of his first novel, five years after he wrote it and fifty-five after his initial inspiration.
‘Hadrian’s Trader’, a romance set in Roman times by Richard Yeo, is set to be published on June 28.
Richard is widely known as ‘The Bookman’ since he founded and ran the ‘Slightly Foxed’ bookstall that regularly sits in Berwick’s buttermarket.
The novel tells the story of Lucius, a young Roman Centurion, based at Trimontium Fort near the Eildon Hills, and of his love for Aithne, daughter of the Celtic chieftain who commands the hill fort on Eildon North.
Richard said: “Fifty-five years ago I heard a dramatisation of Rosemary Sutcliffe’s ‘Eagle of the Ninth’ on the old Children’s Hour programme and became captivated by her tale of Roman Britain.
“Many years later I stood in Trimontium Fort, pivotal to the plot of Sutcliffe’s romance. I looked around from the Eildons to the Tweed and all the summery landscape in between and imagined what it must have been like to be a Roman soldier here, two thousand years before. Thus, Lucius and then Aithne were born.”
Richard’s tale of the wild north Britannia at the edge of Roman rule came about almost by fluke.
“I joined a small writing group, and you had to turn up with a piece of writing one sheet of paper long,” he said. “That was how it began.”
After attempting to place the story with publishers several times, fortune came to Richard’s aid.
“I’d been there, like most writers, collecting all the rejection slips, “ he said, “when I showed it to a friend, who just happened to be a reader for a publishing company.
“It got passed around a bit around their offices, as things do, and they liked it enough to publish it.”
Richard, a former naval officer, already knows how he wants to develop the story if he gets the chance to publish a sequel.
“I want to take characters to the Holy Land, to Roman Judea,” he said, “and show how a trader can become an intelligence agent.
“I’d love to be able to go on a research trip to places like the old Roman territory of Dacia, in modern Hungary. I’ve not got the funds for it right now, but that would be great.”
‘Hadrian’s Trader’, published by Roundfire Books, is available now in most bookshops in the Borders area and for pre-order on Amazon, priced at £13.99.