The city of Rome is a world away from Dubbo, but for author Daniel Layton the ancient metropolis has been at the front of his mind for years.
The former St John's student's interest in ancient history and his passion to write stories for young adults and teenagers brought about the idea for his first novel, Lucius Barca and the Gladiators' Rebellion.
Daniel studied Ancient History and Australian History at university before moving to the coast and starting his career as a teacher at Kempsey High School.
After four years of teaching, Daniel decided he was in need of a career change and joined the NSW Police Force.
"I was always interested in becoming a police officer and I thought if it doesn't work out, I always have my teaching background to fall back on," Daniel said.
After 12 years with the NSW Police, Daniel was medically discharged in October 2019 due to back injuries and PTSD.
He then decided to focus on his writing full-time.
It still feels very surreal to see my name on the front of a book, but it's very rewarding.Daniel Layton
"I have always been an avid reader and I can remember my wife coming home from work as a teacher and saying that boys in her class weren't as interested in reading as the girls and that it would be great if they had something to read that was engaging," Daniel said.
"I thought back to my own school days and knew there weren't many books for me to read at that age either and so I thought the best thing to do would be to write what I know, and I know about ancient Rome."
Lucius Barca and the Gladiators' Rebellion Is Daniel's debut novel and centres around the friendship of four boys living in 100AD Rome who rescue a wounded gladiator, putting all of their lives at risk.
"I wanted the book to have danger, adventure and friendship. Many of the issues the main characters face are still very relevant today," Daniel said.
The book has been a labour of love for Daniel and he said he is already planning to publish further books in the series.
"For about 14 years the story has been floating around in my head and when I retired from the police force, I finally had the time to focus on it and get the story to where I was happy with it," he said.
"I've written the second and third books and am just starting to work on the fourth now. I want readers to be able to follow the characters as they grow up."
Book lovers can purchase a paperback edition of Lucius Barca and the Gladiators' Rebellion online where all good books are sold online or directly from the publisher here.
"It still feels very surreal to see my name on the front of a book, but it's very rewarding," Daniel said.