Q: How do you do your research?
A: That depends on what I need to know. By now, I've got a good bunch of friends/acquaintances who are happy to read a draft for accuracy and I've got a library stocked with all the usual suspects when it comes to Roman military history or general life in the first century AD. For this book, I needed to learn a lot more about Alexandria, which involved some different reading, and about the fire of Rome. Particularly, I needed to come to grips with the very early decades of Christianity which was fascinating – there's a lot less known than I thought, but in the end, I found a narrative arc that seemed to make sense of all the facts.
In more general terms, particularly in the early years of the Boudica series, I spent a week living/sleeping in a round house in Wales, went out with a man who made his own horse harness to see if he could figure out how the ancient Britons might have used their horse bronzes (the chapters that arose from that were cut from Dreaming the Eagle. We might have an 'author's cut' one day, with it all restored to its former glory), and spent hours, days, weeks in and around east Anglia learning all I could of the landscape and how it might have been. Cambridge University Library is a wonderful resource and one of the good things about having been on the staff at the Vet School is that I have lifelong access to the library.
As far as battles go, I hesitate to mention this, but I used to belong to a dark age battle re-enactment group. It would be impossible, I think, accurately to imagine what it might be like to stand in a shield wall in the mud on a poor slope with the bare-sarkers coming at you with heir axes….. if you hadn't actually done it.