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A Novel Direction

July 31, 2009

There’s a lot to be said for letting things percolate.

A few weeks ago, I had something of a freak out over the novel I’d been busy researching. The life of the Byzantine general Belisarius was just too big, it seemed, to fit into a single novel, at least without sacrificing the level of detail and nuance I was after. An established author could probably pull it off with a 350,000 word tome, but few agents or publishers would glance at something even half that long from an aspiring writer.

So I backed away. Didn’t have much choice, really. The past few weeks have been full of work craziness, garage sales, DIY projects, faith-in-humanity-crushing craigslist adventures, and my first foray into directing a video shoot. Needless to say, I haven’t had much time to dwell on writing.

In this case, though, it’s been a good thing. A little time away has given me some much needed perspective, and I think I’ve settled on a period that neatly encompasses Belisarius’ rise through his first great triumph, the conquest of Vandal-occupied Africa. This means sacrificing his first Italian campaign and the sheer awesomeness of his defense of Rome with a mere 5,000 men, but it leaves plenty of room for martial adventures, Byzantine intrigue, and the character twist that I think gives my take on Belisarius so much of its power.

What twist is that? I’m not prepared to reveal that just yet, suffice to say it defines his relationship to a number of figures in a way never attested, yet wholly plausible within the established history.

More to come…

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