Today I welcome Natasha Sheldon to my blog.
1 Tell us about yourself and your writing.
Hello! I’ve been a writer and historian for some years now although it’s only over the last eight months that I have taken a huge leap of fate and decided to do it full time. However, before that (many years ago now) I studied Ancient history, Archaeology and Classics at Leicester and Bristol Universities. I planned on doing a PhD but faced with the realities of life, I decided to get a ‘proper job’.
But I’d always loved writing as much as history so I decided to combine the two. So I began by writing for several websites, before moving onto local history books for The History Press, feeding my hunger for history with trips to ancient sites around Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. I’ve been privileged to experience some wonderful places such as Palmyra and Leptis Magna. Sadly they aren’t safe or accessible anymore. However, they have all informed my knowledge- and my writing.
2 How long have you been writing?
Essentially, ever since I could write. I was constantly making little books as a child. I began writing properly after university. So probably about twenty years.
3 What is at the root of your current book?
Pompeii was the first site to capture my imagination after a teacher read us the Letters of Pliny the Younger when I was about ten. After that, I became obsessed with the place. On my first adult holiday abroad, it was the place I made a bee line for and I’ve studied it ever since. Then in 2011, I had a chance to write a tour for an iPhone app so I chose Pompeii. I loved doing it but I also felt frustrated because the app greatly limited the amount of information I could put in it. So when the app folded, the rights reverted to me and I could tell the story I wanted to tell.
4 What is the best piece of advice you have been given about writing?
Persevere. Persevere with developing your style, persevere with getting published. Do not give up. You never stop learning or developing as a writer.
5 Where do you work? Chaos or calm?
I work at home now which is generally great because I have my own little office in the smallest bedroom. I need calm and quiet and have been known to stick earplugs in if my son and husband are being a bit noisy when they are home. However, in terms of office space, I tend to work in organised chaos. I keep the books and papers I’m using around me in what look like messy random piles to everyone else but make sense to me.
6 What is your typical working day?
I tend to be up early- around five as I love the early morning quiet. I’ll work for a couple of hours then break to have breakfast with my family or go for a swim. Then, from about 9am, its back to work until around 1pm. Late afternoons are out as I have to pick up my son but Sometimes fit in an hour or so in the evening.
7 Are you a planner or a punster?
A little bit of both. I’ll have a rough plan- but I usually do branch out from it as the work progresses.
8 How do you go about your research and do you enjoy the process?
Research is great fun. I love the fact-finding and investigating involved- but I do have to stop myself from going off on a tangent. I tend to use my own personal ‘library’ of books and notes and then move to the internet for alternative sources of information. I then follow any new leads thrown up. Its quite an organic process fro me I suppose.
9 What book/s has/have inspired you?
There are too many to list.
10 If you could invite six writers/historians living or dead to dinner who would you choose?
Lindsey Davis- wonderful writer who uses her extensive knowledge of Roman history very lightly. I’ve recently met her briefly at a conference and she gave me her crisps!
Mary Beard- clever, enthusiastic and passionate.
Steven Saylor- again, another very scholarly fiction writer.
Emily Bronte- not a historian but I love her writing and would love to have known more about the person behind it.
“Discovering Pompeii” is a tour of the ancient site of Pompeii with a difference. Using individual buildings and features as stopping points, it uses the archaeology to tell three stories from Pompeii’s life- and death.
Discover how Pompeii grew from a walled collection of farms into the impressive Roman colony in “Civic Pompeii” before moving onto an exploration of the sights, sounds smells, shops, houses, bars and baths of everyday Pompeii by taking “A Walk down the Via dell’Abbondanza.” Finally, in Pompeii’s Last Days experience how each stage of the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD affected Pompeii –and its people. ‘
Packed with plans and descriptions of individual buildings, explanations of terminology and fun and informative facts about Pompeian and Roman life in general, “Discovering Pompeii” is a guide that can be used on site- or enjoyed from the comfort of your own armchair.
What’s new in the Second Edition?
More detailed plans and descriptions of the layout of key buildings
Additional information on the eruption of Vesuvius, the earthquake of 62AD and the human body casts.
Key Latin terms and phrases explained throughout
Reviews for the first edition of Discovering Pompeii:
“…this is a perfect guide for all travellers and history enthusiasts with its superb overview of Pompeii. The tour is skilfully organized, with descriptions of the modern site and ancient times for every stop along the way. The depth of Sheldon’s knowledge of ancient history is evident and enlightening……” Readers Favourites
“…Discovering Pompeii is the total guide for not only any visitor to the city but for anyone curious about the ancient world.” B McConnell
“….very informative and enlightening (even if you’re only on-site in the ruins of a messy living room)!” Seuss777