Robert Fabbri on how he became a writer

Robert Fabbri talks about his career.

Read a full transcript of this video below:

“I started writing at eleven o’clock on February 8th 2008 at the kitchen table. I’d been thinking about it for some time. For twenty five years, I’d worked in the film business. For the last sixteen of those I was what’s known as the first assistant director which involves breaking down the scripts, scheduling, and getting the film shot in an efficient, cost-effective way so that the director has as much time working on camera as possible. In the last few years, as with most things, it started getting silly; they wanted more for less all the time, and I found myself getting rather grumpy. I thought can I still be doing this, standing in a muddy field at three o’clock in the morning waiting for the cows to move in order to get the next shot? Would I still want to be doing that at sixty-five? And the answer was no.

So, being totally unemployable, I thought I’ve got to do something for myself. What could I do? All my life, I’ve loved historical fiction. I’ve loved it from the moment that I first read The Luck of Troy, that wonderful book, when I was eight. That got me hooked; I realised that you could travel back to different times through books, and I have always enjoyed that process of being taken out of my time and being given a good story in a different time. I decided that’s probably the way forward. I’d never had any writing experience; the last thing I’d written was my degree paper back in 1983, but that wasn’t going to stop me. I decided I’d have a go at it anyway.

The next step was deciding who to write about. I flirted with a few people, and then found Vespasian. I just thought, well, he travels all over the Roman Empire, with the exception of Hispania, and I realised that I could do a series of books wherein the backdrop will always change, and take Vespasian all over world.

So I started writing, and I was very lucky. I wrote half of it, and it seemed to work, then the bank manager obviously wanted me to go back to work, and I went off and did another film. Then I came back and finished it off, and then was lucky enough to find an agent and then a publisher, and it all happened. I still can’t quite believe it really. It’s all very surreal. Doing this to camera is rather surreal.

What it means to me now is that after twenty five years where you’re wondering where the next job’s coming from, if there is going to be another job, I finally have control of my life. If I want to take Wednesday afternoons off, I can. That is really satisfying.”