Rhett Gervais - A Well Constructed Fantasy World Set in Ancient Rome

Rhett Gervais - A Well Constructed Fantasy World Set in Ancient Rome

Rhett's love for all things science fiction and fantasy grew out of a Sunday morning family tradition of watching Star Trek re-runs on the CBC. His love of storytelling is the result of to many hours playing D&D as a dungeon master, doing his best to murder his players! He lives in Pincourt Canada with his wife, daughter, and a crazy calico named Maggie. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, Apprentice: The Last Witch of Rome.

Please give us a short introduction to what Apprentice: The Last Witch of Rome is about.

The last Witch of Rome is about Vesper. A member of a forgotten tribe (The Ose) whose people have served the Roman Emperor since the time of Julius Caesar. The Ose has the unique gift of touching the weave, using its power to bend the world to their will, and make change happen. She is the last of her people, and due to be executed at the start of the story.

What inspired you to write about the last witch of Rome?

I grew up playing d&d, reading fantasy books like the lord of the rings and the wheel of time, but as I got older I found those books to be repetitive. (The chosen one, the old mentor etc.) so I decided to do something original.

Why did you pick ancient Rome as the backdrop for your story?

I have always been fascinated by ancient Rome. The culture, the people, and all the crazy that goes along with it. The technology and culture of the time fascinated me, and I thought it would be the perfect backdrop for a fantasy story with some really original twists.

How much research did this book require from you to make the history part of it ring true?

A ton of research was done. I already had a working knowledge of a lot of the big things, battles, people, and places. But it was the little things I had to go deep for. What did they eat? What were parties like? What was it really like to be a gladiator? In doing so I found out some interesting parallels to our society today. Like the love Roman’s had of fast food, and of adding artificial sweetener to everything.

Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

I love to cook, and according to my friends and family...I’m really good at it...except when I use dill! No one likes it when I use dill (It's a long story, but a good one).

Tell us more about Vesper. What makes her so special?

Vesper is very much a fish out of water in Rome. The village life she came from was very simple where everyone worked for the good of the community, and as such she sees the best in people, even when they are at their worst. In addition because of her bloodline, she can not only touch the weave, but many of the additional sources of power in the world of the last witch, and that's not always to her benefit.

Your story takes a lot of twists and turns. Did you plan out the plot before you started writing, or did some of it just "happen" along the way?

I am a mix of a plotter and a pantser, meaning I plot out the big points and twists in the story, but some of the smaller twists come when I am writing. But I do have a character bible so that a character will rarely do something outside of their personality.

This is the first book of a series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in this series tie in with this one?

The first book can be read as a standalone, although I do hope people enjoy the story enough to follow these characters on their journey. The other books in the series continue the story, and I have found it interesting how some of the characters grow.

Interesting cover. Tell us more about how it came about.

The cover was a collaborative effort with my cover designer Jake Calib of jcalebdesign.com. The idea was to convey ancient Rome, Magic and Martial prowess in a single image. I think he really knocked it out of the park.

Why fantasy? What drew you to this genre?

I grew up reading fantasy, and it just felt like a natural fit. Fantasy can also be an allegory of the world we live in, so you can tell a very layered story without beating people over the head with issues.

When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?


Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?

I write 5 days a week from Sunday to Thursday (I take great pleasure in being off on the weekend. I have recently gone to writing full time, so I usually have one writing session in the morning, and another after 10pm when the rest of the family has gone to sleep.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

My website https://rhettgervais.com/ and I am very active on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/rhettgervaisauthor

If anyone has a question, don’t be shy, I usually answer in a few hours.

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on the last Witch of Rome Book Three (Book two landed on the 17th)