Problem: How can I convey historical background information without boring you?
Which is more interesting?
I was in the Storytelling Fundamentals stream with instructor Sam North, who teaches Creative Writing at Exeter University. We were about 15 participants from all over the world – Philippines, Sweden, Nigeria, India, USA, UK, Switzerland – mostly living in the Zürich area. A very interactive, stimulating group. I hope to keep in contact with you guys and gals! Continue reading “Show or tell?”
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: Continue reading “Who knows the answer?”
Slowly – ever so slowly – we trudge on up the steep hillside, from terrace to dilapidated terrace, all of us heavily laden, dripping with sweat. Crispus is no problem; he’s a follower. But it seems Hercules doesn’t like going just with me, without Dad to lead him. Perhaps he’s right to object. Why did Dad send me anyway? It’s a man’s job. And me all alone! It’s not fair of him, giving me such a difficult task at my age. Usually, we’ve been away for about two weeks; can I cope that long alone? What if something goes wrong? I might break a leg. Or get lost. Or robbed. Continue reading “Trial by Trek”
Cereals, vegetables and fruits were certainly more common on the table than meat. But since these – unlike bones – are seldom preserved, this is difficult to verify. Common foods were certainty oats, spelt and einkorn; somewhat less common barley, rye, cone wheat, emmer, and millet. From these, porridge, grit and flour were made. Legumes, olives and various nuts, fruits and vegetables were also cultivated. The diet was enriched by collecting wild herbs.
Pigs were especially important as a source of meat. Milk was also produced, which was sometimes processed into cheese. Continue reading “Food and Clothing, etc.”
Snow is quite uncommon on the Isle of Elba. But not unknown.
Imagine Silvanus receiving a cold shower as he inadvertently brushes against the branches of such trees.
Enrico Valenti took this photo in 2007.
Writing a historical novel means doing a great deal of background research. Discovering the Mediaeval Market in Bremgarten, Aargau, where innumerable stands display a wide variety of crafts as practised in the Middle Ages, was a delight. You can see some of them in my gallery: wheelwright, armourer, smith, cutler, apothecary, baker,… Continue reading “Inspiring Mediaeval Market”
On reading through a first draft of chapter 3 of Aquila, a friend commented: “Style seems to be a mixture of the detail of Umberto Eco and the harmless teenage adventures of Enid Blyton…” Is that a compliment?
On 29 October 2012 I attended the Boot Camp of the Writers’ Workshop in the Volkshaus Zürich – a full day’s dose of useful tips for would-be authors. I’m not normally very good at paying attention in long meetings, but there I was captivated and I took copious notes. Continue reading “Writers’ Workshop Zürich”