Book Series Binge: Q&A with Lindsey Davis on Flavia Albia Series
By Crime HQApril 28, 2020
Describe the first time you pictured Flavia Albia in your head.
It was during my Falco series, she was just a pathetic, very young scavenger, a street child glimpsed in a bar, intended to show the seamy side of Roman Londinium. Then, once in Rome, a troubled teenager, her character developed. Her looks had to be chosen so she could be either Roman or British, no one will ever know; maybe that character is a useful mix too. I like ambivalence.
By the last novel in the Falco series, addressing the issue of having an uncertain past in Rome, a city where ancestry matters, I was clearly thinking of Albia as a potential new investigator. Did I reinvent her for her own series? I don’t think so, I suspect I brought out aspects she already had, but in a new viewing.
Would you like to live in the setting you created for the Flavia Albia?
Having to speak Latin or Greek? No pasta, tomatoes, or ice cream? Pregnancy a killer? [Documentary makers wandering through your house all the time?]… Not to mention no chance of being a working female novelist.
But I’d rather be an ancient Roman than an ancient Greek.
How has Flavia changed since you began the series?
She got married for one thing, which changes everyone! Love and domesticity have given her much more to do, but softened her. Secure with Tiberius, she has more scope to consider, and be rude about, Roman traditions and society. From being a classic loner, she is also skilfully gathering intriguing helpers, both at home and at work. The detective as team leader: best of all worlds.
Has Flavia changed in unexpected ways since Book 1?
No, not unexpected; I knew where she was going.
Describe Flavia in one sentence.
Albia is shrewd, talented, sympathetic to the pain of others, warm-hearted to those she loves—yet tough, stoical, no-nonsense, and gorgeously stroppy.
How would Flavia describe herself?
‘It’s Albia; I’ve told you enough times. Don’t call me Flavia!’
© Lindsey Davis, Birmingham UK, 2020