Ben Kane is a veterinary surgeon turned best selling author.   I have read all of his books and thoroughly enjoyed every one.  Ben uses his vast knowledge and passion of the Roman era and creates pulsating novels filled with fictional characters who blend seamlessly with actual people who lived over 2000 years ago.  Ancient Rome and the Empire its rulers created was violent, bloody and a society where a human life was worth less than a good amphorae of wine.  If you like your historical fiction to be raw, punchy and full of blood and guts then you will fully appreciate Ben Kane's writing.

I am pleased to announce that Ben has very kindly agreed to an interview and is providing a copy of the first Spartacus novel "The Gladiator" as a prize to one lucky reader of Sir Read-A-Lot!  You can read my review of "Spartacus The Gladiator" here & enter the giveaway here.

        1.    Can you tell us about your latest novel, Spartacus: Rebellion?
It’s the sequel to Spartacus: The Gladiator, which came out in January 2012. It continues Spartacus’ story from the dizzy heights of success against every Roman army that was sent against him to the pursuit by Crassus and his eventual defeat.
2.       Have you always wanted to write?  What prompted you to finally attempt to write a novel that could possibly be published?
No, I haven’t always wanted to write. After school, I studied veterinary medicine at university. I worked as a vet for 16 years, albeit with quite a bit (3 years) of backpacking in between. I first had ideas of writing while travelling, but nothing ever came of those. I didn’t start writing in earnest until after I’d a) worked in Northumberland and seen Hadrian’s Wall and b) grown so utterly frustrated with being a vet that I couldn’t envisage continuing in that career until I retired. Naïvely, I decided to write a best-selling novel about Roman soldiers. That was in 2003. I got my first book contract in 2007 and gave up veterinary entirely in late 2008, so I didn’t do too badly.

3.       You’ve travelled quite extensively, has being able to visit some of the locations included in your novels helped you with your writing? 
Yes indeed. I’ve written scenes about places that I’ve never been to as well as scenes about locations I have visited. It’s far easier to describe the latter, although I hope that readers would not be able to tell the difference between the two!

4.       Although you have become a best-selling author of Roman novels, you have told me that you also have a passion for more modern history.  Do you have any other projects in the pipeline or will you be concentrating on Ancient Rome?

My new book contract includes a novel called Crecy, which is set during the Hundred Years’ War. I intend to turn that into a trilogy eventually, but I also have more books about Rome to write – including three more about the Second Punic War and the characters from my Hannibal novel.

5.       When writing about actual people from history, such as Spartacus, how do you research their lives?
I read every bit of ancient text that survives about them – in the case of Spartacus, that is sadly only 4,000 words or so – and then I read loads of texts about the time in which they lived.

6.       Can you tell us about your next project?

I’m currently writing the sequel to my novel Hannibal: Enemy of Rome. It’s to be called Fields of Blood, with reference to the battle of Cannae, in 216 BC.

7.       Fun Question – which three historical figures would you invite to dinner?
Spartacus, Hannibal and Alexander the Great – there would be a strict no weapons policy!

8.       Fun Question – what event in history would you like to be a fly on the wall at?
I don’t know if I could stomach it, but it would be the battle of Cannae, in August 216 BC, when Hannibal and 50,000 troops defeated more than 80,000 Roman legionaries. It remains one of the finest examples of generalship ever seen. Until superseded by WW1, it was the bloodiest battle that ever took place in one day – more than 50,000 Romans were killed.