For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Jamie Ogle to talk about Of Love and Treason.
Jamie Ogle is a predawn writer, homeschool mom by day, and a reader by night. Inspired by her fascination with the storied history of faith, she writes historical fiction infused with hope, adventure, and courageous rebels. A Minnesota native, she now lives in Iowa with her husband and their three children, and she can usually be found gardening, beekeeping, and tromping through the woods.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado, please tell us something interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.
Although I loathed gardening as a kid and vowed never to have one of my own, I love to garden now. For me, there’s nothing as calming as pulling weeds in the sunshine. Also, I’m addicted to “before and afters,” so it helps that I’m not a great gardener and there are always drastic “before and afters” when I’m weeding.
Can you tell us about your latest novel? Of Love and Treason
Valentine defies the emperor and becomes a hero . . . and the most wanted man in the empire. Compelled by his faith, he has nothing to lose, until a chance encounter with the daughter of a Roman jailor changes everything.
Rome, AD 270. In the wake of the emperor’s marriage ban, rumors swirl that there is one man brave enough to perform wedding ceremonies in secret. A public notarius and leader of an underground church, Valentine believes the emperor’s edict unjust and risks his own life for the sake of his convictions. But as his fame grows, so do fears for his safety.
Iris, the daughter of a Roman jailor, believes regaining her sight will ease the mounting troubles at home. Her last hope rests in searching out Valentine and his church, but the danger of associating with people labeled a threat to the empire is great. Still, as Iris’s new friends lead her to faith in God, Iris is drawn to Valentine and they both begin to hope for a future together beyond the treacherous empire.
But when a past debt and a staggering betrayal collide, Valentine, Iris, and everyone they love must fight for their lives . . . and wrestle with trusting a God who can restore sight yet does not always keep His followers from peril.
Why did you choose to write a story set in 3rd Century Rome?
I wish there was a better answer than the fact that I didn’t like Valentine’s Day and decided to look up the origins to find out why it’s even a thing. I did not expect to be completely captured by the story of Valentine, to the point where I had to write the story.
Have you lived in or visited current day Rome? What research was required to set a book there in the 3rd Century?
- My husband and I were able to visit Rome in 2018 and it was unspeakably moving to explore the halls of the Markets of Trajan, walk the streets of the Forum and stand in the Colosseum. I’d written my first draft at that point, and to be able to experience the ruins of the places where my characters lived was incredible.
I poured a lot of time into research, and I can’t even tell you the number of books I read on Ancient Rome. It’s nerve-wracking writing about a time period and culture that has so many experts and fans, but it was also a blessing because so many of those people were incredibly helpful in answering my questions and recommending great resources.
Are there any similarities (buildings, customs, etc) between 3rd Century Rome and today?
I think there are so many things carried through from Rome into our own culture, but I really started to recognize the hints of them after spending so much time reading and studying the architecture and culture. I was able to go (ie: was dragged to) a Vikings game once at the U.S. Bank Stadium, and I spent the entire time looking around the stadium, struck by the similarities between it and the Colosseum. Needless to say, I spent the entire game memorizing the way the roar of the crowd vibrated in my ears and chest, and how small the players looked on the field, how clearly—or not—you could see what was happening. All the while, thinking of Ancient Rome. I’m not sure who won the game that day. But probably not the Vikings. 😉
What is a day like for one of your characters as they live in 3rd Century Rome?
Valentine—his friends call him Valens or Val—is usually rushing through his day, late for something, though no one can fault him when it’s because he can’t help but step in when he sees someone in need of assistance. He works by day as a public notarius, writing up legal documents for the sales of houses and businesses, and—until the emperor banned it—drawing up marriage contracts. In the evenings, he leads an illegal church that meets in the house of his good friends, and by night, he’s marrying couples in secret despite the emperor’s marriage ban. If he has a spare moment, he’s slipping into Paulina’s Bakery for a raisin pastry, and if he times it right, a chat with the pretty blind woman who works there.
Were resources easy or difficult to find on these topics? Do you have a favorite resource?
As I mentioned earlier, there are a ton of resources on Ancient Rome, which is wonderful! My favorite resource is a two-volume set called The Atlas of Ancient Rome by Carandini. It’s full of pictures, maps, history, information, images of reconstructed buildings, and maps of how the city grew and changed over time. I highly recommend it to anyone writing about Ancient Rome.
What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?
I love to bake and try old recipes, and I wish I could have included more about the food and food preparation, but I was already way over my word count and some of that extra stuff had to go.
Do you have another book in the works? What can you tell us about that book?
I just turned in revisions on my second novel which takes place in the early 4th century Roman Empire and retells the stories of Saint Nicholas. If you enjoy themes of forgiveness and sacrifice, sunken treasure, and slow-burn romance, keep an eye out for this book coming early 2025.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I hope when readers find themselves within the pages of Of Love and Treason, they see the theme of deep, selfless love flowing through the story and realize that’s how God loves them. I hope it encourages them to deepen their relationship with God and gives them the courage to love others the way God does.
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Jamie, thank you for joining us today!
If readers would like to purchase a copy of your book, where might they be able to do so?
Of Love and Treason releases January 23, 2024 and is available for preorder pretty much everywhere!
If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?
Readers can find all of my social media links at jamieogle.com. There’s also a link where they can sign up for my email newsletter and get my free novelette.
Thank you for joining me for this year’s Sunday Dinner conversations! As we head into US Thanksgiving and the Christmas Holidays, Sunday Dinner interviews will be on hiatus. However, be sure to tune back in the first Sunday in January when author Akaysha Mynes will be joining us. See you then and Happy Holidays!
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