13 Mar 2018

Blog Tour / The Last Hour by Harry Sidebottom

A lone figure stands silhouetted atop the Mausoleum of Hadrian. Behind him, the sun is setting over the centre of the known world. Far below, the river is in full flood. The City of Rome lies spread out before him on the far bank. Footsteps pound up the stairs. He's been set up. An enemy is closing in; he is cornered. He jumps.

Bruised and battered, he crawls out of the raging river. He is alone and unarmed, without money or friends, trapped in a deadly conspiracy at the heart of the Empire. The City Watch has orders to take him alive; other, more sinister, forces want him dead. As the day dies, he realises he has only 24 hours to expose the conspirators, and save the leader of the world. If the Emperor dies, chaos and violence will ensue. If the Emperor dies, every single person he loves will die.

He must run, bluff, hide and fight his way across the Seven Hills.
He must reach the Colosseum, and the Emperor.
He must make it to The Last Hour.


My  Writing  Day  by  Harry  Sidebottom

“It  must  be  wonderful  being  a  writer. You  just  sit  at  home  reading  books  you  want  to  read, and  when  inspiration  strikes, you  do  some  writing.” A  stranger  once  said  to  me  without  a  hint  of  irony. If  only  his  impression  were  true!

The  alarm  goes  off  at  6.30am. While  mainly  asleep, I  feed  the  cats  and  the  dog, make  the  tea, and  cut  out  breakfast  for  our  two  sons. By  the  time  I  am  back  in  bed, drinking  the  tea, I  am  just  about  awake.

Lisa  takes  the  boys  to  school. I  start  the  laptop, and, as  it  hums  and  whirs  into  life, go  out  and  check  the  horses (Yes, I  know  bits  of  my  life  sound  like  a  character  in  a  Cormac  McCarthy  or  James  Lee  Burks  novel; although  usually  without  the  imminent  threat  of  violence). Back  in  the  house, I  drink  coffee, eat  breakfast, and  answer  emails. It  is  odd  that  so  many  Banks  select  my  account  for  `extra  security  measures`, and  that  so  many  people  think  an  Oxford  Don  could  benefit  from  fake  Viagra. Nowadays  I  spend  quite  a  bit  of  time  talking  to  readers  on  Facebook. Most  are  very  pleasant. A  few  clearly  are  insane.

When  I  really  can`t  find  anymore  reasons  not  to, I  take  the  laptop  out  to  where  I  work. My  office  is  a  converted  foaling  box – a  big  stable – and  its  kitchen  and  bathroom  are  the  old  sitting-up  room  for  the  stable  lads. I  love  my  office. I  always  wanted  a  room  that  was  lined  with  books  from  floor  to  ceiling  on  all  four  walls. Being  a  man, the  first  things  I  bought  were  a  huge  leather  sofa  and  an  enormous  screen  TV. Often  my  wife  and  children  find  me  stretched  out  on  the  sofa  watching  box  sets. They  always  fail  to  understand  that  whatever  I  am  watching  is  research! For  example  my  new  novel, The  Last  Hour, is  set  in  the  underworld  of  the  city  of  Rome. The  hero  has  twenty  four  hours  to  get  across  the  eternal  city  and  prevent  the  assassination  of  the  Emperor. Obviously, for  atmosphere, I  had  to  watch  all  the  Italian  series  Romanzo  Criminale.  

If  I  am  researching  a  novel, when  not  watching  DVDs, I  read  and  take  notes. When  writing, I  sit  and  write. I  go  back  to  the  house  for  lunch, then  carry  on  working  until  about  6.30pm, when  I  go  and  eat  with  Lisa  and  the  boys. In  the  last  stages  of  writing, when  the  deadline  is  looming, I  go  back  to  work  after  dinner. Although  I  seldom  work  much  beyond  ten. Some  novels, and  The  Last  Hour  was  one, are  a  joy  to  write. But  they  remain  hard  work, demanding  long  hours  and  total  concentration.

A  couple  of  years  ago  I  received  a  charming  letter  from  a  teenage  boy  asking  if  he  could  job  shadow  me. I  had  to  disappoint  him. There  seemed  little  he  would  gain  watching  a  middle  aged  man  muttering  and  running  his  hands  through  his  hair  as  he  tap-tap-tapped  endlessly  at  a  computer. Besides  he  might  have  offered  to  make  cups  of  tea, which  would  have  only  left  me  staring  out  of  the  window, and  pacing  about, as  displacement  activities.