Author Interview – Assaph Mehr – “Murder In Absentia: Togas, Daggers, and Magic (Felix the Fox Book 1)”(Ancient Rome/Murder Mystery Thriller/Urban Fantasy)

Hello everybody.

Welcome to Writer Wednesday, the best way to celebrate the middle of the week (hey maybe that’s just me but if you like reading or writing then I’m sure you feel the same way).

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For your entertainment (and for mine too because I am a big fantasy fan), I have had the pleasure of speaking to multiple Award-winning Urban Fantasy author Assaph Mehr about his eclectic, electric mix found in his Felix the Fox series.

Let’s get this show on the road and have a fun time learning more about his incredible world, happy reading friends.


Hi there Assaph, a pleasure to have you here to discover more about you and your fantastic writing.

Hi David, thank you for hosting me!

Let’s start with your debut multiple award winning Historical Fantasy novel “Murder In Absentia: Togas, Daggers, and Magic (Felix the Fox Book 1)”. It has been described as a treat for lovers of Ancient Rome, Murder Mysteries, and Urban Fantasy. Please tell us more about the characters, the plot itself and ultimately what is at stake this time round for the Sherlockian Felix the Fox across the course of his adventure.

Murder In Absentia is the story of Felix, a hard-boiled detective living in a fantasy world based on Ancient Rome. The themes and story line might remind readers of other paranormal detectives, such as Harry Dresden, while the setting will be hauntingly familiar to lovers of Roman mysteries like those by Lindsey Davis and Steven Saylor. I’ve had the idea behind the case kicking in the back of my head for a while. When it came time to write it, I just drew on what I liked to read and blended those genres.

The book details Felix’s first big case, the one that propelled his career. He was called to help a senator, who found his son dead in what looked like cult killing. The father wanted to keep things quiet, and hired Felix to find – and deal with – his son’s killers. Felix is got drawn deeper into their conspiracy, though what he found was something quite different than what he expected!

Murder In Absentia

What would you choose as your own personal mascot or spirit animal when it comes to you and your style of writing?

Felix is called “the fox” for a reason. He is cunning, relying on quick wits rather than brute force or powerful magic to solve his clients’ troubles. I like to pose him in impossible situations, and like to see him weasel his way out of them. Or dump him – literally – in the sewers, to ferret some information out. But a fox is so much more gracious than those other two animals, so we’ll stick to that.

What do you think most characterizes or defines your writing? Do you have any writing quirks or themes that constantly crop up in your stories?

There are several meta-themes in the Felix novels. They are a blend of historical-fantasy-mystery, and I try to pay attention to each of these aspects. I do a lot of research into Roman history, but rather than just the grand events I focus on daily lives. I weave these into the novels, to give a richer background world than a purely constructed one. One of the things I can’t resist is (mostly) accurate foods. Something about describing the sumptuous feasts with their jellyfish omelettes, or the street hawkers of dubious meat pastries with fish sauce just makes me chuckle.

In terms of the fantasy too, I rely on ancient Rome. One of my pet peeves is the treatment of Roman mythology as Greek with Latin names. I try to research their religion (which was influenced by Greeks, Etruscans et al), and then combine that with a workable magic system. Roman religion was performative and contractual; they took a practical approach to dealing with the ever-present gods. I made their attitudes towards magic match.

And lastly the mysteries. Felix is a classic hard-boiled detective. The style would be familiar to any lover of noir literature. More Sam Spade than Hercule Poirot, Felix believes in getting things done – legalities only matter if you get caught.

If your novel was to be made into a film (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?

I think the consensus amongst fans is that Tom Hiddleston would do a great job, even if he’s a bit too tall and buff for the role. If Javier Bardem was 15 years younger, he’d be perfect. For some characters, I do “see” certain actors when I write them. Ben Kingsley has a reserved spot, and Ralph Fiennes can take his pick.

Whoever the actors, I would love it if Joss Whedon directed the movie. I think he’d get the balance of action, horror, and humour.

What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?

Most difficult: just finding the time. I enjoy writing tremendously, but it still doesn’t pay the mortgage. That means that after day job and family time, I don’t have a lot left to write in.

I don’t know which part I would classify as “easiest”. I enjoy the process as a whole. Sometime I get stuck for a bit, sometime it flows rapidly. I just keep working at it.

Quote1 Murder In Absentia

Who are some of the authors, poets and historical figures that inspire you?

So many! On the Roman historical fiction side, probably Colleen McCullough, Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, and Ruth Downie stand out. The last three also cover historical mystery novels, and I will only add the amazing Boris Akunin for his incredible Erast Fandorin series.

On the fantasy side, too many to mention, from classics like JRR Tolkein and Fritz Leiber, to modern authors like Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett.

There are other historical-fantasy detectives out there too… I’ll mention Barry Hughart, with Bridge of Birds – one of my all-time favourite books! And, of course, Harry Turtledove, the master of alternate histories.

What sort of research do you do to write your books?

I read a lot. Besides reading fiction (and becoming a writer makes you a more critical reader, which in turn improves your writing – it’s a self-reinforcing cycle), I read a lot of non-fiction. You’d be amazed at the wealth of information you can find in your local library. I also live close to one of the top universities in Australia, so I sometimes stop there on the way back from work to spend time in the library.

I also watch a lot of YouTube videos. Plenty of people out there with love for history and the credentials behind them, who take the time to record and publish bits of information. A lot of people like to do what I term “experimental archaeology” – recreating history. You can find information about anything from proper sword fighting and military engagement to cuisine and hair styles. Seeing helps when it comes to describe in words.

Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve always had my nose in a book. I loved reading, and kept it up most of my life. While I wanted to see my name in print, I never thought that I’d get to it before retirement.
Then one night over two years ago, my wife complained that she had finished all the books she wanted to read. So after everyone went to bed, I sat down and started to write one for her. And kept writing till I had the first draft completed. I haven’t stopped since.

What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?

I like to dump Felix in impossible situations, and see him squirm his way out. Sometime he retaliates by not telling me what and why he’s doing what he is doing. The best way to deal with it is to just write. Write anything that come to mind, let the character meander. Often you’ll find they know what they’re doing, even if it’s not immediately obvious. You can always tighten the scenes later.

For Felix, one of two things work as motivation to get him going. Either let him go to a brothel, or dump him in the sewers (literally). Those get him motivated to get on with the story.

Quote2 Murder In Absentia

You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Advice? I’d probably start with a knee to the groin…

I don’t know if changing my life would have turned out better or worse. I try not to wallow on the past, but focus on present and future.

How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?

My free time is dedicated to writing. Before that comes all of the obligations of life. If I’m too tired to write though, I read. Or spend time helping other authors. And occasionally I manage to practice some of my martial arts.

Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?

I am currently working on the next full-length Felix mystery. After Murder In Absentia I wrote a few short stories with Felix (available freely on my blog). I’m now almost done with the first draft of the second book, titled In Numina. Once I finish it, I’ll probably write a few more stories, and then another novel – I have ideas for several more.

Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?

There is only one secret to writing a book. It’s one that every successful author knows. If you’ll listen carefully, I’ll impart it now. Come closer. The secret to writing a novel is…to WRITE!

Seriously. Park your ass in a chair, and keep writing a little bit every day. Eventually you’ll end up with a manuscript.

Now, the secret to writing a good book is…get ready for it…to READ! So go on, read a lot. Read in your genre to know what works, and read out of your genre to be inspired and develop your own style.

So keep reading, keep writing, and don’t give up.

And that’s a wrap! Thank you for chatting with us Assaph, we look forward to spending a lot more exciting times with Felix and your books 🙂 


Assaph Mehr Profile Pic

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.

When he’s not busy mashing up genres or interviewing other author’s characters on, this ex-Israeli-turned-Aussie enjoys his kids, cats, wife and even his day job. He hopes that his thirty years of martial arts make his fight scenes realistic, and that his love of history shines through his work.

You can connect with Assaph via the following Social Media channels:-

Facebook:- Assaph Mehr – Author (FB)
Goodreads:- Assaph Mehr (Goodreads Author)
Google Plus:- Assaph Mehr – Author (Google Plus)
Instagram:- @assaph (Instagram)
LinkedIn:- Assaph Mehr – Author (LinkedIn)
Pinterest:- Assaph Mehr – Author (Pinterest)
Twitter:- @assaphmehr (Twitter)
Website:- FELIX THE FOX MYSTERIES – The Website of Author Assaph Mehr

You can buy his books here:-

Buy Assaph Mehr’s books in the UK/Europe

Buy Assaph Mehr’s books in the US/Rest of the World

If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.

Still want more? Well, Assaph’s books are all about his lead protagonist tracing a path through the mysteries that he encounters until he reaches their thrilling conclusion. For more articles on the theme of ‘Trace’ then check out the links below:-

1. Branching Out – Lil’ Liz and the Meld * 2 of 2
2. Around and Around We Go – Dominica Bolden
3. A Wise Journey.. – Life After Fifty
4. Trace – This is my Silence
5. Awl and Scribe – Trace
6. Walnuts & Lime – Traces of Seventeen
7. A Dejected Loop – Life After Fifty
8. Chicago Style: May 31, 2017 – Present and Presentable
9. Vanished – MAG Stories
10. Trace – Melinda J. Irvine
11. Mainline_Matter – Sturmgeshutz Trace
12. Somewhere… – Poojannnblogs
13. A Star’s Story – Blog of Hammad Rais
14. When Life is at Stake – thinkinkadia
15. Lunch Before Lunch – Girl Writing
16. Trace The Outlines – The Icognito Writer
17. Traces of Life – Life’s Journey 365
18. Le Drake Noir – Eight days a week
19. trace – erintypes
20. shame – Utopia at ten thirty am
21. Look Backward, Move Forward – BronxBeyondBorders
22. Trace Series (3/3) – atrangizindagieksafar
23. Wonderful Weekends and Road Trips – The Chicken Grandma
24. Belinda Trussell International – The Huge and Hideous Bird from the Riders Perspective.
25. Butterflo – Tracing is fun!
26. love letters and thoughts – What’s In a Name?
27. Trace Series (2/3) – atrangizindagieksafar
28. “Portion.” – Nomadic Adventurer
29. Finding Balance–Living Cleaner While Still Allowing a DNA Existence – Shelby’s Starlit Crossing
30. Life lessons & boomerangs – thereforegodamaris
31. Sandstorm – This is Nobody’s blog
32. Myammy! Moving in together at 50… – Mon amis, Con V. Fefe
33. I Decim-Ate It All – Rhyme In Time
34. A long time ago – Pressing Patience
35. Dominica Bolden – Around and Around We Go
36. Asking for Faith – Debbie Gravett
37. Trace – reading makes everything traceable – Vishal’s blog
38. The Noodler – 6/1/17 – Mah Butt Itches
39. Bonkers Away! – Trace
40. SISTERHOOD – Rainbow
41. Every Smile Has A Reason – Trace : Lovers : DPChallenge
42. Success Inspirers World – The blame game
43. when you wrote the love song – Tiny Fawns Writings
44. The battle cry of the seagulls – Sarahs Crazy Mind
45. THE ICONOPHILE – At a Touch
46. Poiesis, a Sonnet – The Pescetarian Poet
47. Tracing an error – Run and Travel
48. Trace Series (1/3) – atrangizindagieksafar
49. Long #4 (Haiku/Senryu) – Thoughts of Words
50. Swell Time – Seriously mom?
51. Facade – aYoKa
52. Hide and Seek – By Sarah
53. Difficult to find the traces of life….. – and the journey continues…
54. Traces – Dream Desire Achieve
55. PAST, PRESENT(S) FUTURE – DeepikasRamblings
56. Hide and Seek – By Sarah
57. justinerain – Living is what I chose
58. Trace – Japanese Wh1spers
59. The Narcissartist Song – Write Away
60. Ephesians 1:11-14 – Inheritance
61. Beautiful Skies – Kaleidoscope of my life
62. yochet – Red and Black Crochet Puppet
63. Isabel Caves – Six Word Story: Perpetrator
64. Success Inspirers World – Trace your roots
65. Desperate – Playing with words
66. Traces – TAwrites
67. Route 90 – Leigha Robbins
68. Trace with Grace (2 min read) – LifeBlog
69. Slideshow – The Introspection Connection
70. Tangled Webs – Better to Not Understand
71. The New, Unofficial, On-line Writer’s Guild – Daily Prompt; Trace – Five Perspectives
72. Trace – Allison’s Written Words
73. Messages – Positively Un-broken
74. LOST IN SPACE – Beauty Mirrors Beast
75. My Mixed Blog – A Trace of What?
76. INSIDE YOU, INSIDE ME – Beauty Mirrors Beast
77. Feeling the trace – abbisoul
78. The Tribute – Petrichor and Clouds
79. in 25 words more or less – #tuesday use it in a sentence; daily post
80. The Hockey Mom Fit Life
81. Not A Trace – earthlings305
82. ~150 Of 365~ – ……….365 Days………..
83. Mysteries of Life…You and Me – What Am I Doing?
84. Trace – Book Meets Girl
85. Kleenex – a moment teller’s
86. Na’ama Yehuda – Outline Life
87. Making it write – Retrace
88. If I Lose Myself Tonight – Love and Life
89. where are we know? – alter oculos
90. Let’s Do This !!! – jansten56
91. This is my Silence – Trace
92. Tapestry that is Life! – stoneronarollercoaster
93. Life On The Skinny Branches – Etch-a-Sketch
94. Evening after-rain sail – Andrea Sails
95. RICHARD BERKSHIRE – Uncomfortable Remedies
96. Musings of a Random Mind – What’s a Picture Worth?
97. Secrets at Seven Years Old – pocket poet
98. Trace Of A Migraine – Migraines From Hell
99. 83 Unsung Heroes – Off ‘Er Face On Bread
100. The Showers of Blessings – Villanelle Poem – I Walked Barefoot on the Smooth Sand
101. Re-intro – Just me and us blog
102. Telling the Truth – Disappeared
103. A Tender Love: A Poem About A Brother and Sister – Adventures of a Busy Mom
104. Soupcon – Inner Whispers
105. Trace your Love Lines!! – I Can Feel Around
106. The Meaning – Fenix Verde / Green Phoenix
107. It’s REALLY Nothing – Wind Kisses
108. Trace – thehouseofbailey
109. Buff – thehouseofbailey
110. Leave No Trace – Views From Around the Corner
111. Fluffy Pool – Free-Range
112. Trace – A Sawyer’s Daughter
113. Just Brittany Moments – Work Hard…
114. Still… – Wings Of Poetry
115. Trace – The Bag Lady
116. The Things we Never thought We Learnt – Sweet Tea with a Slice of Faith
117. B_ live – The Lost Pearl
118. Monday Pictures…Our East Texas Farm. Just a Trace of Sunshine! –
119. Silver Lining-The lost you – SilentWordz
120. Frozen Nostalgia – The Indigo Pages
121. #DailyPrompt: Trace – Jottings and Writings
122. As I Trace the Outline of My Life (Daily Word Prompt is Trace) – My Loud Bipolar Whispers
123. Life as it happens to be – Lost and Found
124. The traces we humans leave behind – SweetHandlettering!
125. kwesi – trace
126. a pinch of fear, a trace of hope… – koolest1uknow
127. The Wicked Truth – The Mind of Nox
128. Curious Hart – A Trace of Mischief
129. WOTD trace – Kimo’s Den Of Iniquity
130. Insach – Traces and trails.
131. Trace – Kerrstee
132. Noodle Fangs – artiche
133. Giggles & Tales – The Daily Prompt – Trace 2
134. Going back – World Imagined
135. Tracing My Insomnia via Diet and Exercise – The Unethical Vegan
136. Daily Prompt | Short Story Day Two – Kelly Freestone
137. ganymede bound – Trace My Face
138. Trace of a strawberry – The Inkwell
139. Can they trace Shoplifters?? – Dramatisch Gemini
140. SMELL THE HOOD – I-read
142. The “Huge and Hideous Bird” from the Riders Perspective. – HorseAddict
143. mylocalweb – embrace me
144. Pick it up, be on your way. Vanished heart – cries from an unkempt garden
145. Museums And Travel Nomads… – Nomadchasingwaterfalls
146. Trace Of A Kiss – Smell The Coffee
147. Trace – Project21Words
148. Leave No Trace – The Apples in My Orchard
149. In the World of Thoughts – LOVE – A BEAUTIFUL MESSAGE
150. My New Weight-Loss Plan – Why Weight?
151. Exploring the World around us – Trace
152. Cookies & Moo – Genealogy
153. His Eyes – Deafinitely Me
154. trace of scent ⋆ Obsolete Childhood
155. Tracing back to love – lovelyricism
156. You Can. You Should. Write… – Success Strategies
157. I’m a Believer¦Not a Trace of Doubt in My Mind – Strictly Unstructured
158. Life is Short, Kiss the Rose – Let Me Stay Among The Stars
159. Margret’s Life Journey! – Tracing my ancentors
160. Poetic Traces – VirtuousParagon
161. How do you know you are an equalitarian parent? — Settle in El Paso
162. a life-giving moment – Let’s Say Grace
163. Daily Skiptrace – Monkebus
164. Icecream – Don’t hold your breath
165. Trace – wordsareallihavesite
166. Poetry – Something – Urban Poetry by author Linda J. Wolff
167. Tracing the Guitar String Theory of Two Brians – The Page Turns
168. The Anonymous Life – Trace Towards Targets
169. Flowers and Breezes – Trace
170. Trace Your Steps – Blissfully Bianca
171. Your 2017 Goals: Trace It. Check It… – Success Strategies
172. A Month and 3 – The Diary of a Weird Teen Boy
173. Growing Old, When Beauty Dies – Sumyanna Writes
174. #28poet – growing old
175. Kintsugi – thepathtocreativity
176. Giggles & Tales – The Daily Prompt – Trace!
177. Reflections – If it be but just a trace
178. Rytha Ephua – TRACE
179. Odysseus Was Just Here (plus a haiku) – genusrosa
180. Grammy Writes – Just for Kids…Just for Fun!
181. Traces – I’m a Writer, Yes, I Am!
182. Everything and anything – An Owl Is An Owl..
183. Hunting for traces of my past, with stories attached – Bird Flight
184. Minutiae – Zeckrombryan
185. thelonerose – June
186. The Cat Chronicles – Daily Feline Prompt: Trace the Feline
187. Lost In You – Beauty Mirrors Beast
188. Eat life; make meaning. – Trace
189. Present and Presentable – Chicago Style: May 31, 2017
190. Trace or not? – XDrive
191. juantetcts – Daily Post
192. Charmed Chaos – Vestiges of a Life, 1989
193. What…… – emotionsoflife2016
194. What Goes Around Comes Around – The Traces You Leave Behind
195. Martha L Shaw – PASSIONIS GOD’S GIFT!
196. The Happy Wordcrafter – Lost Without A Trace: Daily Post Prompt
197. Vanishing Trace – What Wendy Writes
198. sonja benskin mesher – .. idling, i trace ..
199. Poems of the dark. /Suzhalgal
200. Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss – Not a Trace
201. Bittersweet Sensations – a feeling of uncertainty
202. Tick tock, tick tock, they’ll put you under key and lock. – CD-W, Author Flawed to Perfection
203. Follow – Essentially Rebellious
205. Vox Humbug – My First Heartbreak
206. Dronstad – Full metal ambush
207. Hell No!… “Hut Tax”??? – Smell The Coffee
208. Purposive Writer – Justice or Mercy?
209. The Last Pawn – Trace (Daily Prompt)
210. Traces of Me… – fit2fatforme
211. Trace – Writing the wrongs
212. DCMontreal: Blowing the Whistle on Society – Montreal Paving Contractor: It’s Not My Job
213. Covfefe in a Sentence – A lot from Lydia
214. The Magic of Childhood… – Mum’s the Word Blog
215. Garbage storage – My little storybook
216. Trace of Deception – damswriter
217. lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Deep Voice
218. Trace- Should I or should I not – Beka’s journal
219. Remove All Traces? – themanbehindtheglass
220. It starts with me – Emotional Healing Strategies
221. Meet new people at home or solo traveling. Advice from a chatty introvert. – art of being fabulous
222. Disapear – juanita394
223. SHINE MAGAZINE – Are You were You Wanted Be?
224. Thought, Knot & Not – OneAndNone
225. Tracing you – Am I A Grown Up Yet?
226. Watered Down – Midnight Calico Farm
227. Gods Caught with Their Pants Down – Site Title
228. An Upturned Soul – Mindfulness, Authenticity, and Other Human Activities
229. Life as I know it … – escapingperfection
230. Zombie Flamingos – The end of a rainy Tuesday
231. jotNrot – marseillaises
232. Hot Dogs and Marmalade – The Canoe Race
233. Pine Barrens – nosaintaugustine
234. were we before we were born? – alter oculos
235. The Writer’s Trace – Jittery Goat
236. stumble upon serendipity – Imprint
237. Trace – bowaleXO
238. Trace – Daily Prompt – Ladyleemanila
239. 3 steps to becoming a smarter and safer online shopper – Digital & Home Life
240. Trace #TheDailyPost – Of Glass & Paper
241. Piper’s Adventures – Designing and Building Bridges: A Guide to a Happy Life
242. Trace – Poetry, Fiction, Politics (PFP)
243. Tracing in the Sands of Time – As I was saying…
244. Natural Trace – Reactionary Tales
245. the15thday – figuratively speaking, i’ve covered literally already…
246. Without A Trace – Focal Breeze
247. ….on pets and prisoners….. – daily prompt: trace
248. Roots of JIHAD Part VI – Islamic Methodologies Made Easy
249. Symphonies From A Mental Asylum…. #4 – Thunder Poet
250. Jensiper’s Blog – Without a trace
251. Frank Prem – comfort movies
252. space trace – aroused
253. Mitigating Circumstances – Traces
254. Poems and Petals – Secret Message
255. Hot For Teacher – Redux Of Rex
256. Trace the Path – Just Writing!
257. Frank Prem – rain traces
258. Frank Prem – lights out
259. Tracing loops – Wells Baum
260. The Wandering Poet
261. Our Line Through History – fibijeeves
262. This Moment – Spiraling Upward
263. Hot White Snow – A Walk in the Woods
264. Ghost Weed’s Tug-of War Gig: Pulling their way to Fame and Fortune! – Chronicles of an Orange-Haired Woman!
265. Cimmerian Sentiment – The New Neighbor (Quick and Dirty Short Stories) NSFW
266. I wrote a book. Now what? – That Was Random


8 thoughts on “Author Interview – Assaph Mehr – “Murder In Absentia: Togas, Daggers, and Magic (Felix the Fox Book 1)”(Ancient Rome/Murder Mystery Thriller/Urban Fantasy)

  1. Great post. I especially liked this part: “Seriously. Park your ass in a chair, and keep writing a little bit every day. Eventually you’ll end up with a manuscript.” lol. I’ve given out that same advice to new writers.

  2. Pingback: Interview Roundup – these were fun ones :) – FELIX THE FOX MYSTERIES

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