How much was a pound of fresh mussels worth at the Fabricia market in 570 AD?
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.
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.”
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”
I love it when Silé calls me ‘Little Eli’ – although I’m only two years younger than he. Whenever we can, Lucilla and I like to skip, make necklaces and bracelets with beads, or play this bear game. Otherwise we’re often romping with the boys, Lucy’s brother Pontus, Ruddy Rufus – don’t tell him we call him that! – and Silé.
Hi. I’m known by my friends as Silé, but my full name is Silvanus, after the god of the woods. In 571 A.D., when this story starts, I was just 14 years old. I grew up on the south-west coast of Elba in a tiny village, dominated by Mount Aquila with its eagle-shaped outcrop.