Inspiration: The Promise of Memory

We’re counting down to release day for the Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors anthology. I’m guest posting on our blog today about my Roman-set story, “The Promise of Memory” and what inspired me to write it. You can either read the post below, or read it on the Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors website. The post on the anthology website has an extensive excerpt!

13 Days: The Promise of Memory by Regina Kammer: My Inspiration

I had just written a novel set in ancient Rome when I saw Delilah Devlin’s call for submissions for an anthology on knights, Hot Highlanders and Wild Knights (yep, that was the original call). As Delilah always does, she encouraged authors to think beyond the tropes of courtly medieval English knights, and in the call mentioned Crusaders, Normans, Saxons, Vikings, Huns…

But not Romans.

Sigh. I write historical erotic romance and at the time was revising two novels, one set in Victorian England and the other set in American Revolutionary New York. And, although I love the Middle Ages, I didn’t want to pick up a yet another thread of research. My creative mind kept returning to the Romans. I had done a ton of research for my novel Hadrian and Sabina: A Love Story and a thought kept prodding me – wasn’t there a knightly order in Ancient Rome?

Why, yes, there was! In fact, the Equites were the basis for all knightly orders throughout Europe. An eques was a horse-rider, a cavalryman, the word sharing its roots with equus, Latin for horse. Even more, my research for Hadrian and Sabina had revealed the emperor Hadrian (reigned 117-138 CE) had done immense work in restructuring the imperial civil service. Some of his reforms had their groundwork laid during the reign of his predecessor, Trajan (reigned 98-117 CE). This combined with the social mobility of slaves to freedmen under the early Roman empire, plus Trajan’s continued wars in the provinces inspired my idea for a hero. I had just written a similar hero – a Beta Hero, though, rather than an Alpha – in Hadrian and Sabina, a Dacian slave who rises through the ranks to become imperial secretary. My new hero would be a warrior who becomes a knight of the equestrian order.
(This is riveting stuff, hmmm?? Right. So let’s take a break and gaze upon the handsome visages of Clive Owen as King Arthur and Ioan Gruffudd as Lancelot in King Arthur (2004) which sets the legend in mid-5th century Britain, and presents the Knights of the Round Table as Roman equites.)

The plot of my story was sparked by events in Trajan’s career trajectory. Nine years before he became emperor, Trajan crushed a rebellion of the Germanic Chatti. When he became emperor, one of the few times Trajan and his wife, the empress Plotina, lived at the imperial palace in Rome was in the year 100. The empress was forty years old then, still of a lustful age to require a vigorous lover, and, as history claims, not sharing the emperor’s bed. But I knew the story of Plotina, and it wasn’t a romance, so I needed another heroine. What if my heroine was a slave in the imperial household? A Chatti slave? Who is as desirous for the empress’s lover as the empress is?

And “The Promise of Memory” came to be.

When Delilah wanted the anthology authors to write about what inspired their stories, I suspect she hoped for photos of hot, muscly guys. I mean, have you seen the Pinterest Board for the anthology? Yeah, like that.

But, while I love hot, muscly dudes, I also get off on history. I’m a historian – what can I say? Little tidbits of history take hold in my mind and somehow magically spin into stories…with sex. Lots of sex.

Still, lots of people get off on hot, muscly dudes. So here are some from one of my favorite Roman-set TV shows, Spartacus: Blood and Sand (okay, okay, set a little earlier than when my story takes place, but, need I remind, hot dude?).