Silvanus and Virna sit at the side of the dying Cerbonius.
He takes their hands and nods for some moments. “I have much I would wish to say to young people such as yourselves about the primal concerns and dangers of life.”
“Good Father, we are eager to learn whatever you think important.”
“First, let us remember that Almighty God created this earth for His pleasure and judged His work to be very good. Continue reading
One of my grossest errors when I first started writing fiction was to tell the reader exactly what was going on, why, and what the characters thought about it.
How boring is this?
Another pastime of mine was to observe snakes. There was something mystical about snakes. Some people thought they represented an evil power, but there was also a long-standing tradition associating them with healing powers. At any rate, they fascinated me.
Show, don’t tell!
I’d never even heard of that most elementary of all writers’ maxims. Continue reading
The Romans were technically ingenious!
As well as a knife, spoon, and fork, this implement provides a spike, spatula and small pick. The spike might have helped in extracting the meat from snails, and the spatula in poking sauce out of narrow-necked bottles: the pick could have served as a tooth-pick.
While many less elaborate folding knives survive in bronze, this one’s complexity and the fact that it is made of silver suggest it is a luxury item, perhaps a useful gadget for a wealthy traveller.
Cerbonius again took a seat on his favourite boulder and Silvanus sat at his feet. Then the Bishop told him a parable, saying:
‘A certain farmer lived with his wife and two young sons on a small island. Their possessions consisted of little more than a simple hut, several hens, three goats, a few vines and an ancient olive tree. Although the family meticulously gathered most of the olives, fermenting them in clay pots using rock salt, some were found by the hens and wild birds. Continue reading
One day Cerbonius went up to his favourite boulder and sat down. When Silvanus took his place next to him, the Bishop told him a parable, saying:
‘A father asked his sons to follow him. Procius maintained he was old enough to decide for himself what to do. Gallus, hesitated, then decided to join his older brother. So the father went out alone. Continue reading
For a change, I’m including a guest post. Thanks, Lucy Adams, for an interesting and thought-provoking article.
Why do people read books? What are the reasons that they are among the most important inventions of human civilization? You know the answer, although you may not be aware of it.
Today I want to talk about two of the largest concepts of fiction, but let me start from afar. Continue reading
“Kill your darlings!” they say. Oh, how it hurts to have to cut carefully crafted episodes out of my manuscript, just to comply with the expected word count.
Here is one such incident that that had to go. It took place on the Isle of Capraria, very near the end of the book. Continue reading
I just discovered a map Silvanus must have made, showing his treks across Ilva. How do you like it?
Actually, it was made for him by a brilliant cartographer in Russia, Polina Vorontsova.
Aware that he was soon to die, Cerbonius bequeathed all the wisdom he had garnered over his long and colourful life to his spiritual son, Silvanus, in the form of a scroll of warnings and admonitions for young Christian believers.
Silvanus would have liked to read Cerbonius’s advice out loud and ask for explanations where necessary. But the aged Bishop was too weak. So I’ve taken the liberty of here reproducing the headlines of that catalogue, together with some comments the Saint would have voiced had he had the strength: Continue reading
I’m afraid she did exactly what I feared. Much to my grief, the good lady editor said my book was unworthy. And she begged me not to take steps toward self-publishing, like finding someone to design a cover for it.
‘It’s far too long. The plot is all over the place. Most of the action happens off stage. It doesn’t resonate with a young adult readership. And it’s too preachy.’
I was devastated.
One point she made, which others have also mentioned, was that Cerbonius‘s archaic speech didn’t work. I had given him that antiquated argot because I wanted him to come over as old and provincial. But if it didn’t work, it needed to be changed, I told myself. It needed to be translated from English into English. Continue reading