Most ex-cops aren’t Mediterranean history buffs.
Otis Orchards resident Steven Hughes is an exception.
Hughes, 55, a retired detective from the Long Beach, Calif., police department, has found a way to combine his loves for writing, ancient Romans, and law enforcement for the past 17 years.
He recently published a historical novel on the Internet.
“I had always been fascinated by the Romans,” said Hughes, now a claims approver for Guardian Insurance. “They really tried to integrate their people - despite what movies like Ben Hur, Spartacus and Quo Vadis want you to believe.”
Hughes and his wife, Liz, also 55, moved to the Spokane Valley from Irvine, Calif., three years ago. Before becoming a police officer, Hughes graduated with a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California in 1975, with a minor in ancient Mediterranean civilization.
But his passion for the ancients began much earlier, when his seventh-grade teacher introduced him to Latin.
Hughes learned to translate the difficult language, and two years later was sight-reading passages from Virgil’s “Aeneid” and Caesar’s “Gallic Wars.”
“It was very hard,” said Hughes. “You put your nouns ahead of your verbs and the many ways of using verbs was confusing.”
He persisted, and his fervor for Latin fueled his passion for writing. To improve, Hughes attended college writing workshops where his work was subjected to pinching criticism.
“You had to read it aloud,” said Hughes. “You learn to develop a thick skin because it can really grate against you.”
His book, entitled “The Wolf of Albion,” was inspired by the life of Cartacus, the king of southern Britain around 39 A.D.
“Cartacus was the British version of William Wallace,” said Hughes, referring to the 1996 film, “Braveheart” about the life of the Scottish rebel. “He was influenced by Druids and raised by his uncle.”
“The Wolf of Albion” was published by 1st Books, an Internet publishing firm.
After unsuccessfully trying to publish his first manuscript in the 1980s, Hughes opted for on-line publishing this time around.
“I envisioned this as a traditional book, with an advance from the publisher,” said Hughes. “But many publishers have cut as much as 50 percent from their stable, and they have to sell 40,000 copies to keep you.”
Internet publishing is easier, Hughes said, since readers can find the book instantly, from anywhere in the world. Users can access the book at: www.1stbooks.com. Downloading the complete novel costs $5.95.
Hughes’ cop buddies urged him to write books on police fiction, an idea which he rejected. But his law enforcement background does give Hughes context for life inside the Roman army.
“The ranks and even the swear words are so similar,” he said.
Military service was also a part of Hughes’ life. From 1962 to 1966, Hughes was a lance corporal in the Marine Corps’ reconnaissance division, which afforded him many travel opportunities and colors his writing, he said.
Though his regimen of writing is demanding - two hours each evening, five nights a week - Hughes’ wife and family embrace his dream.
“We respect each other’s time and space,” said Hughes, whose wife is a floutist and retired schoolteacher.
“You have to do it for the love of it.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
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