I started writing The Owl of the Durotriges after completing a degree in Archaeology and Classical History at Canterbury in 2008. I undertook the part-time degree for curiosity and interest rather than a career choice. My specialist area was deposition in boundaries but the more I read about the late Iron Age, the more fascinated I became with the era in general. Archaeology tells us about social history rather than the history of kings and queens and I was able to imagine how the people lived at that time. At the end of the degree I realised that I would lose this knowledge unless I put it to good use and kept up the reasearch and so I began writing.
I was fascinated by the fact that there was a roaring trade between Hengistbury Head and Brittany well before the Romans arrived and I wanted to challenge the classically-biased belief that we were a bunch of barbarians before Caeser or Claudius. I set the main action in Hengistbury Head and as soon as I began to write, the characters seemed to announce themselves on the page. Chela, our heroine, is a healer. I once trained as an aromatherapist and had to learn all about the medicinal uses of plants and herbs - this seemed an opportunity to make use of this knowledge too. I also included druids but I wanted them to be politically active rather than simply a benign priesthood. The story changed and had very many edits and re-edits until I was happy with it. My main aim, however, was to tell a good story rather than use the book as a platform to promote the Iron Age. I hope I have succeeded, but that, of course, is up to the reader to say.
You can see more on my website: www.yassminsanders.com