It is my pleasure to interview multiple award-winning Assaph Mehr, author of Murder in Absentia. If you would like to chat live with MTW author, Assaph Mehr, join us HERE on Facebook tomorrow night at 6:00 pm (EST) at Mystery Thriller Week.

Interview of Assaph Mehr, Author

Murder in Absentia

1.       When did you decide to seriously write a novel and why?

I never actually “seriously decided” – it just happened. Writing a novel was on my bucket list, but not something I thought I do before retirement. I had the idea for the mystery behind Murder In Absentia kicking a can in the back of my head for a while.

Then one night two years ago, my wife complained that she finished all the books she wanted to read. So I sat down, and started to write, and didn’t stop until I finished the first draft of Murder In Absentia.

You can almost say that the first time I decided to write a novel is for the second mystery (currently work in progress)

 2.       Will you tell us a little about Murder in Absentia and why it is a must-read?

Quite simply, Murder In Absentia is the story I always wanted to read. I loved historical fiction about ancient Rome since the first time I read Asterix. I’ve read a lot of classic sci-fi and fantasy in my youth, as well as classic detectives. Lately I’ve read a lot Roman detective mysteries, like those of Steven Saylor and Lindsey Davis. So when it came time to write, I knew exactly what I wanted.

The story itself is a classic noir detective. A young man dies, his powerful family wants to know why. Felix goes after the people responsible, and gets drawn into a little circle of nasty people. What makes this story unique – besides the very surprising plot twists – is the setting. The melding of Ancient Roman culture (I’ve done hours and hours of research into every aspect) together with the high-fantasy magical world.

I’ve subtitled the novel as a “Story of Togas, Daggers, and Magic” as it draws on all three elements equally. If you like two out of those three, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

3.       What is your favorite part of the writing process and why?

Constructing evil plots to throw at my characters (and readers). Whilst writing some particular scenes I was actually cackling with glee…

Another aspect I enjoy tremendously is the research into ancient Rome. It was always a favourite subject, but this gave me the prompt to look into a lot more than the grand events, and into all aspects of daily life (from cuisine to sewage, from fighting techniques to hair styles).

I also enjoy the fantasy world building. I’ve chosen to make it a fantasy world rather than actual Rome, as I didn’t want to be tied down to a particular year and it’s associated public personas and events. So there was a lot of world building involved, from geography to climate.

4.       Can readers expect additional novels staring Felix the Fox? And will it be set in Egretia?

Yes! I am now writing the second full-length mystery. Titled “In Numina” (a play on the Catholic “in nomine” – here numina is the ancient Latin word for amorphous spirits), it is a tale of haunted houses. Or rather, haunted apartment blocks, to fit in with the urban setting of the ancient world’s largest city.

In between books, I also publish short stories with Felix. They form an introduction to readers who wish to sample my writing style, and a something to keep my fans occupied with while I work on the next novel. You can find them freely on my site here:

 5.       What would the main character in your book say about you?

Ha! Felix has actually been granting a few interviews. You can find the latest here:

As to what he would say… Well, he used a rather unkind word to describe me. He’s in this for the money (these are his memoirs, after all), and try as I might to explain to him that indie publishing in our world is not a for-profit endeavor, he’s eager for his royalty cheques.

6.       Where do you gather inspiration for writing? And do you believe in the Writer’s Muse?

Inspiration is everywhere. While writing Murder In Absentia, I kept coming up with ideas for more stories. I wrote them down, and am working through them now. While an initial spark (or muse) is essential, most of the writing process is simply the time and perseverance required for putting words on paper.

7.       Do you have a writing mentor or hero?

Not really. There are authors I admire for their craft and skills, but no mentors as such.

8.       What has been the toughest and greatest critique or advice you’ve received prior to publishing your first novel?

Never skimp on a good editor and a good cover artist. Those things affect how your novel is perceived the most.

9.       What plans do Assaph, the author, have for the next five years?

I no longer make five-year plans… My crystal ball seems to be eternally malfunctioning, and the future never plays the way I think it would.

What I would like to achieve though, is to be able to publish a novel a year over the coming years. I have the stories in my head, I simply need to find the time to write and polish them.

10.   Outside of writing, what are your favorite past-times?

I’ve studied martial arts for about 30 years. Covered various styles, from ultra-violent Krav Maga in my youth, to a very internal branch of Wing Chun currently. I also watch a lot of videos about HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) for research. This comes into play when I write fight scenes – they are not the movie type acrobatics, as I try to make them very realistic.

I also enjoy cooking, and in particular baking. This comes through in my writing. I enjoy researching ancient foods, and integrating them into the novel. While I’m not brave enough to try and cook an historically-accurate brains-and-pine-nuts omelet, this is certainly something that is mentioned in the novels. Food is such an important aspect in life, and it helps build the sense of realism in the fantasy world.

Tune in tomorrow, February 12th, 2017, for Sherrie’s Always Write Book Review of Murder in Absentia.

Author Bio

Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy – he whinged horribly when they dragged him to “yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling”, yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art.  He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin.  Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife Julia, four kids and two cats. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he’s writing – he seems to do his best writing after midnight.


Find Assaph Mehr and Murder in Absentia at any of the following locations:


Sherrie’s Always Write