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About the Novel

May 22, 2007

Q: A novel?  Are you serious?

A: Yes.  Quite.

Q: But isn’t that, like, a lot of work?

A: Yes.  It took me three and a half years (and a good number of pens and notebooks) to claw my way through the first draft.

Q: Why did you do that to yourself?

A: I’ve had the urge to write for some time, and made my first attempt at a novel near the end of my high school career.  As with most creative writing produced at that age, the less said about it, the better.  Moving through college and into the real world, I never quite lost the urge, even if it became hazy and distant at times.

In 2002, I actually made a serious attempt, compiling research, crafting chapters and whatnot, but never quite got off the ground.  Then, in 2003, a coworker recommended Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.  I was already grousing about making a fresh attempt at writing, of pursuing the dream while I had time, so that I wouldn’t wind up looking back on my life with regret and all that good stuff, and Pressfield’s book was just the sort of kick in the ass I needed to harden my resolve.

A few nights later, I picked up a pen and a notebook, and got to work.

Q: So…what’s the book about, again?

A: The opening years of the Second Punic War.

Q: The second…what the hell is a Punic?

A: The Second Punic War was a conflict between Rome and Carthage that lasted from 218 B.C. to 202 B.C.  The fighting extended throughout the Western Mediterranean, from Italy to Sicily, Spain, and Africa.

It is called the Second Punic War because, well, there was one before it (the First Punic War), and because the Latin term for Carthaginians was Poeni, which somewhere along the way got slurred into Punic, much the way Tejas became Texas.  Amazing, isn’t it, how poor pronunciation can impact a language?

Of course, none of that matters, as the term "Second Punic War" appears nowhere in the book.

Q: So what does matter?  Why should I be interested in the story?

A: Because the Second Punic War is every bit as tragic, dramatic, and engaging as World War II or the Civil War.  There’s intrigue, strategy, bravery, romance, love and loss, acts of supreme stupidity, and, of course, a few epic battle scenes.

Q: But I thought history was boring.

A: Then you are an idiot.  History is the greatest story ever told, and when viewed as such, rather than a collection of names and dates, it comes alive.  It transports you to another time and place, and allows you to observe human nature from a slightly different perspective, stripped of its modern baggage but nevertheless discernible.  Kind of like Star Trek, but in the past.

Q: Star Trek?  Are you some kind of a dork?

A: You mean the fact that I’ve written a 600+ page novel set in the Roman Republic wasn’t a tip off?

Q: Six hundred pages!?!?

A: Yes, though I’m planning to cut it to a more manageable five hundred or so in the course of my revisions.

Q: Isn’t that still a bit…long?

A: Compared to what?  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is going to be 784 pages.  And historical fiction as a genre tends to run long.

Q: Okay, okay.  So what’s your plan now?  Going to try to get it published?

A: I sure am.  Right now I’m working my way through a heavily marked up copy of the first draft, making revisions as necessary and rewriting a few sections here and there.  Once I have the first three chapters where I want them, I have every intention of shopping myself around to agents and publishers.

Q: How can I get my hands on a copy of the draft?

A: You can’t.  Unless I know you.  And even then, copies are just about fresh out.

Q: Yes, I’m reading your draft, and on page 172, in the second paragraph, I noticed that you typed "to" when it should be "too".

A: Thanks.  I probably noticed it too, while combing through every page of the draft with a red pen at the ready.  But thank you for your concern.

Q: If you get published, are you going to turn author full-time?

A: Not at first, if everything I’ve read about the publishing industry is true.  But maybe someday.

Q: What do you think novelists put on their business cards?

A: At a guess, their names.

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