Writing a historic novel set on Elba in Late Antiquity involves a great deal of background research. Books do exist, which relate events and discuss political and economic developments, as well as religious and social aspects of life in those turbulent times.
But getting answers to some of the simple everyday questions is not always so easy:
- Did people speak Latin or a local dialect?
- How many denarii were there to one solidus in those days?
- What sort of food was provided for overnight guests in a caupona?
- Could country boys read? What books were available? Were they made of parchment? Scrolls or codices?
- Were pagan festivals still celebrated? Did Church and state authorities tolerate them or object?
- What taxes did ordinary people have to pay? How were they collected? Was everyone registered and their payments recorded?
- At what age were youths recruited to the army to fight invading Lombards?
- What sort of goods were traded to/from abroad?
- What were clothes made of?
- Were there wild bears or wolves on Elba?
- How did people light fires?
- What were country people’s houses like?