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Trouble With History
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Mary and I managed to finish 100 manuscript pages of the first draft of our as yet untitled eighth Byzantine mystery. At the rate we're going, we're not going to finish before there's snow on the ground. Unless winter arrives late...we can only wish!

This book has been particularly difficult, in part, because we incorporate a real historic event -- the 532 Nika Riots -- into the narrative. Five For Silver took place during the plague of 542, but that was a rather undefined occurrence, without major characters, just a lot of supporting players, mostly rats. The Nika Riots, when the factions temporarily united in mob violence aimed at ousting the emperor, were recorded in detail even if there exists disagreement about which buildings were burned down on which days. The riots also involved many historical figures. Not just The Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora but the great general, Belisarius, the famous eunuch chamberlain Narses, and members of the family of Anastasius, who had preceded Justinian's uncle Justin as Emperor.

History has provided us with a day by day timeline and a fascinating cast. Which would be fine were we writing a stand-alone historical. However, since this is a mystery series we need to integrate our own continuing characters into the already large historical cast and fit John's detection efforts, and all the rest of the plot, into the unalterable progression of events. Add to it the necessity to also wedge in a mystery puzzle and you can see our dilemma.

However, it is good practice and I expect by the time I'm 95 I might know something about writing.

I recently did an article about researching historicals for Bob Sabella's zine Visions of Paradise. You can find Issue 132 over at the Visions of Paradise page at eFanzines. Or you can download the issue directly. (It's 971 kbs). I also write a little about how our approach to research and writing is influenced by the fact that both Mary and I are former fans of science fiction.

Now I need to get back to writing the book and hope the snow holds off. And we can come up with a title.

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