Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Novel Number Two: Progress Update

Novel Number Two is progressing fairly well. I've been doing a lot of renewed research into the culture and the history of the medieval county of Toulouse, the birthplace of the novel's main character. I've found in my research that there existed a degree of political and religious betrayal, intrigue, plotting, and subterfuge far greater than what I had imagined. It's mind-boggling to contemplate what it must have been like to live in those treacherous times.

The experience brings to mind some of the freedoms we've come to expect that simply did not exist in the past repression of political and religious authorities. We scoff openly - and most often rightly - at our contemporary politicians and their drive to manipulate and control us. We blithely ignore the edicts and admonitions of the religious leaders who in times past inspired the deepest and most abject fears in the hearts of their congregants. In Novel Number Two, the starkness of medieval religious and political domination will come to life and frame the story of one man's journey through the gauntlet of its driving force.

One of the great challenges of writing historical fiction is to escape our contemporary attitudes and try to accurately capture those of the people of the time. I'm sure I failed to do that as well as I could have in the story of The Pict, and that will be improved in the expanded version of that novel. For now I'm immersing myself in the mores and the mindset that reigned in the days of our tormented but undaunted protagonist.

I'd welcome discussion of medieval society, culture, and politics on this blog
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1 comment:

Kirsten Campbell said...

tormented but undaunted protagonist...

The best kind there is!

Capturing the attitudes and mores of a past society is one of the trickiest parts of writing historical fiction. Or maybe not the mores themselves, but maintaining that certain ambivalence when your characters do something which would have been perfectly acceptable in their time/culture, but which you find repugnant. I think, too, a lot of people in this day and age have trouble grasping just how significant religious law was in the past, and how major the consequences were when people wanted to go against it (Henry VIII comes to mind).

I'm totally clueless when it comes to medieval history, though, so I'll just wait to read Novel Number Two and learn! :D

Glad to hear things are going well for you, Jack. :)