Author interview with Humphry Knipe of ‘The Nero Prediction’

Author Interview with Humphry Knipe

In an age when Rome rules the world and astrology rules Rome, Nero’s young secretary battles the prediction that he will murder the musical messiah he worships. ‘The Nero Prediction’ is a winner of the IPPY Award for “Best Historical Fiction”.



Will the musical messiah be murdered in the manner predicted by astrology? Returning to to share more ancient astrological insights is Humphry Knipe, author of ‘The Nero Prediction’. Humphry, I love to see authors return to chat so firstly thanks for coming back so we can delve a little deeper into the pages of ‘The Nero Prediction’. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of reading our last interview, the link to which I will provide at the end of this interview, what can you share about the fire that sparked your desire to write about the whirlwind life of Roman Nero?

‘The Nero Prediction’ was a long time in coming. With his penchant for music and festivals, Nero seemed to the most 60’s of the Roman emperors and, looking back, I probably wanted to recreate that magical time in a historical setting. However the deeper I looked into the first century the more references I found to astrology. One day the idea hit me like the proverbial lighting bolt. Nero’s birth date and time are known (dawn on December 15, 37 AD) so it must be possible to re-create his horoscope. With this mysterious wheel in hand, anyone familiar with ancient astrological lore should be able to make some very intelligent guesses about what Nero’s astrologer would have been advising him on a regular basis. Since Nero, like everyone else at the time, believed in astrology, which, in the words of historian Michael Grant, “exceeded every religion in power and influence”, this could be an important historical tool in explaining his motives and actions. So I linked up with an astrologer who specialized in Greek and Roman astrology to cast Nero’s chart and to teach me the rudiments of this intriguing mixture of superstition and astronomy. After several years of studying Roman astrological manuals (two have survived intact) and casting hundreds of horoscopes, the main theme of The Nero Prediction, the self-fulfilling prophecy, came into focus. It still astonishes me that I appear to be alone in this approach because not only was Nero clearly guided by his horoscope but, as soon as it was leaked, his enemies were guided by it as well which led to his death at the age of 30.



Wow, that’s a huge amount of study behind ‘The Nero Prediction’!

Ten years worth!



Which is impressive in anyone’s language! How close are the events in your novel to what historians known about this period in time?

Very close. I stuck very closely to the historical accounts, never contradicting fact but expanding on it.



Was there much modern day expansion added? For example, did you pepper up the story with flavours from your own life?

Sure – the fact that I was young and in love during the 60’s in London. Very Neronean!



*Laughs* That will do it! How did you find this unique mix of modern and historical events and characters that experience them interplay together?

Plot and character perform a complex dance, sometimes one leads and then the other.



What did you feel that you learnt from this complex dance with changing leads and partners?

The peril of blind faith. Faith can be the worst folly.



Blind faith is perilous. Why do you love writing about the perils of life like the trap of blind faith?

It’s fun playing god, even if it’s only on paper!



*Laughs* That it is! When you’ve cast yourself as God, where does the creative process start? Is it planned from the beginning right through to the end?

I always start at the end.



It does make a lot of sense to me that start at the end, simply because you know where you’re going to go. When your mind knows where it’s going, are there any techniques or rituals that you use to get your mind ready to write?

I am very much a creature of habit. I write in the same place, at the same time, five days a week.



I wish I had your ability to sit down in the same place quite so consistently. I end up wiggling so much to that I have to move to my next writing spot for the day! It does end up being a nice tour of all the writing spots in the house though. Is there a magic strategy to staying in the same spot? Music perchance?

No music. My ideas are frightened off by strange sounds.



Such sensitive little ideas! I hope that you’ve managed to catch a few of them for your current writing project. What ideas are you currently trying not to scare away?

I’ve just published ‘Napoleon’s Rosebud’ which was inspired by the real-life affair between Napoleon and my great great grandaunt Charlotte Knipe on the tiny island of Saint Helena. It’s time to rest on my laurels, at least for a while.



‘Napoleon’s Rosebud’ sounds like a really fascinating read and one not to be missed. I’m glad to hear that you’re taking a little time to relax from the writing game but don’t stay on the sidelines too long, it’s just too much fun only to watch!



Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘The Nero Prediction ( ASIN: B007SPGPIQ )‘.

Want to find out more about Humphry Knipe? Connect here!

You can also catch our previous interviews with Humphry here:

Author interview with Humphry Knipe of ‘The Nero Prediction’

Author Interview with Humphry Knipe

Was Nero the Antichrist who fiddled while Rome burned or an artistic genius trapped inside a Caesar? In an age when Rome rules the world and astrology rules Rome Nero’s young secretary battles the prediction that he will murder the musical messiah he worships.



Will the prediction of murder come true? Humphry Knipe has generously set aside some time to chat with me today about the battle against astrological predictions in Roman times. Humphry, thanks for giving us a glimpse into the world of ‘The Nero Prediction’ today. What sparked your interest about Roman times, and more specifically the real life figure of Nero in consider writing a historical fiction novel in this time?

Having had the good fortune to be in London during the swinging 60’s I was attracted to what little I knew about Nero and his obsession with music and drama – he seemed like a 60’s kind of guy. But the more I read up about him the more references I found to astrology.



*Laughs* You know I’ve always considered Nero to be a man of his time, but I can see how you might be able to place him in the Swinging 60’s. Did you do much reading up on Nero’s life and those astrology references after your initial brush with Nero?

An enormous amount. I even hired a specialist in classical astrology to cast Nero’s horoscope for me and teach me the fundamentals of the art. Soon I was casting the horoscopes of all the principal characters where their birthday is known.



Wow, hiring a specialist is certainly more research than I expected! How did you find the characters develop once you had their birthdays and horoscopes?

Almost all the characters in the book are based on real people and events.



Okay, so it sounds like the characters were more formed around what we know of the events of these people. Would you say that this is correct?

Yes, this is a plot driven novel.



Even though you took the majority of the events and characters from history, did you ever try and inflect a little of your own life into the book?

Certainly – I was very aware of the blindness of belief.



Was the awareness of the blindness of belief the most important thing you want you readers to take away from your book, or was there another point of view that you think is more important?

That magical thinking can be a powerful and dangerous force.



Do you find that you were rewarded personally by delving into the power of magical thinking? Or was there another aspect of the writing process that you found even more gratifying?

The feeling of getting an inside scoop on history and making a contribution to the current and ongoing re-evaluation of Nero who is emerging as a genius born before his time.



Yep, I’d pick the ability to make a contribution to the understanding of a historical figure as more rewarding as well. Now there’s a huge amount of history out there, and I’ve been wondering if you’ve turned your writing mind to a new historical writing project. And if so, can you tell us a little about it?

I’ve just finished Napoleon’s Rosebud, based on my great great grandaunt’s affair with Napoleon on Saint Helena Island.



That’s awesome that you can tie your personal family tree to interesting historical events. What keeps you coming back to write, is it the ability to see into the past or something else?           

It’s an addiction!



*Laughs* I love your honesty! Does this addiction manifest into writing schedule or do you find yourself sneaking moments to write at all times?

I write 5 days a week, about three hours every morning.



As you’re writing in a structured way do you also approach the events in plot with a similar structure? Or do you let the events and ending unfold as you write?

I always start a book by working out how it ends.



Do you find yourself using any music to get yourself in the groove on those writing mornings?

The sound of silence.



As you’re not using any outside variables like music to rev you up, how to you work around writer’s block?




Now that’s a strategy that I haven’t heard before, but you learn something new everyday! During those morning blocks of writing, do you also find yourself tackling editing?

Yes, mostly do it myself.



As someone who has gotten your thoughts to market, do you have any advice for other authors?

Good luck. I sometimes think there are more writers than readers.



The readers are out there, but I do agree that sometimes they are tricky to find! One thing that I’m hoping will be less tricky for you to find is answers to our quirky quick fire questions that I like to use to share the sprit of an author with our readers. Let’s kick off the sprit with, what is your favourite quote?

If at first you don’t succeed try something else.



*Laughs* There’s always something new to be done! Who decides what morality is?




I think that is the best answer that I’ve seen so far for that question. Thank you for providing it. What is your favourite ocean?




Where is the line between insanity and creativity?

Read my booklet “The Divine Madness”



Awesome, a prepared answer! I now wonder if you’re also prepared yourself for the next question, what came first, the chicken or the egg?

What came first was the first microorganism to replicate itself.



I see you are not fooled by the chicken origin debate. Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

Can’t dry.



Ahhh, that’s the answer. What is your best tip for authors?

The tip of a dagger! It’s murder out there.



*Laughs* Especially when you are living in ancient Rome! What is your favourite word?




And finally, can you share a little more of your writing dream by letting us know your personal favourite quote from ‘The Nero Prediction’?

With a quick upward thrust I fulfilled the prediction.



That kind of sounds like you’re giving away the ending! Humphry, thanks for sharing your relationship with writing and Nero in our chat today, and I hope that we’ve enticed others to investigate ‘The Nero Prediction’.


Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘The Nero Prediction ( ASIN: B007SPGPIQ )‘.

Want to find out more about Humphry Knipe? Connect here!