fascinating facts about the first-century Roman world, by novelist Martha Marks

Welcome to my blog! I hope you’ll find these posts interesting, leave comments, return often, and become a subscriber. And if you’re curious to know why I chose a name like The Purple Parchment, click here.

OthoI’ve organized the material here into three sections.

Section 1: FASCINATING FACTS covers a variety of subjects related to the first century: agriculture, cities, houses, language, rural places, slavery, travel, women, etc.Poppaea Sabina

Section 2: RUBIES OF THE VIPER gives insights into the historical characters—Nero, Otho (on the coin), Poppaea Sabina (at right), and the Flavians: Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, and Flavia Domitilla—and the fictional characters—Theodosia, Alexander, Stefan, Nizzo, and Lucilla—who populate my novel. There’s also a map of places in the book (95 KB PDF), which will help you visualize where the story takes place.

carcer_tullianusSection 3: WRITING CHALLENGES discusses issues that arise in the course of writing historical fiction, problems to be solved, etc.

—site copyright © Martha Marks—

11 thoughts on “

  1. Hello Martha,
    I just wanted to tell you how very much I enjoyed ‘Rubies’. I’ve just this minute finished it, but the setting and characters linger in my head. Thank you for transporting me into the bygone world of Rome and Syria, I felt as though I was right there with Theodosia.
    Victoria Twead.

  2. ‘Rubies’ is truly a work of art! Perfectly detailed and not overdone at all. I really felt emotionally attached to the characters and I didn’t want the story to end! Thank you so much for sharing this with the world 🙂

    • Candice, I’m thrilled by your review, both here and on Amazon. A work of art? You’ve exceeded even my own high opinion of my novel. 🙂

      Thanks for letting me know how much you enjoyed it.

  3. Loved every page and delayed finishing the book so it wouldn’t end . I teach sixth graders graders about this time period and find it fascinating. Can’t wait for the release of The Viper Amulet!

    • Hi Cathy and thank you for your wonderful feedback! It’s always great to hear from somebody who loved RUBIES OF THE VIPER and is looking forward to the sequel. THE VIPER AMULET is coming along nicely now after almost 2 years of delay while I dealt with a family illness. I’ll make sure to let you know when it comes out (probably late in 2014).

  4. I just finished “Rubies of the Viper” and enjoyed it thoroughly. This is the first novel set in ancient Roman history I’ve read in a long time and the way you blended historical characters and events with fictional was impressive. Although I knew Vespasian was historical, I didn’t realize Otho was until I read about Vespasian in Wikipedia and followed the link to Otho. What a paradox he presents…disdained a lot in life, but praised for the way he died.
    Developing a bond with Theodosia, Alexander, and Stefan was so easy and letting them go at the end was difficult. All the characters were well developed and I liked the way you gradually revealed their intentions and goals in a way that made the story so suspenseful. The last third of the book was intense and mesmerizing. I didn’t want to stop until I finished.
    I am delighted to know there is a sequel in development. Furthermore, when you hve finished your first draft of the “Viper Amulet,” I would be honored if you consider allowing me to assist you as a pro bono beta-reader/proofreader of the manuscript. I have done this for several authors and would be thrilled to do thee same for you.
    Regards, Cathy Nobles

    • Thank you, Cathy! Your wonderful comment brightened this Monday morning more than you’re likely to realize. I really do appreciate it. And yes, I’ll be happy to take you up on your kind offer to beta read the sequel.

      • I look forward to it. In fact, If you wish, you don’t have to wait until you think it is “almost perfect.” Something in my genes, I’ve been told by other authors, makes me a “natural” at proofreading/editing. I catch a lot, little details especially, and inconsistencies. Since my author friends have been encouraging me to go professional, I figure I’d like a little more experience before I decide if I want to make money at proofing/editing. I’m also good at suggesting plot twists, themes, future story ideas, but I don’t have the gift to actually write fictional novels.
        Well, food for thought. Can’t wait.

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