How the Arab Spring has influenced my third book, The Black Scroll
It occurred to me that I’m supposed to be writing here about writing. I haven’t done a very good job with that, so am striving to make some course corrections.
At long last, I got the courage to start writing Elektra’s story. I’ve thought a lot about why it’s taken me so long. Was it fear of writing itself? Of not having any more ideas? Or was it fear of the story that Elektra has to tell? Now that I have begun, I know that this is a story I couldn’t have told without going through the experience of Arab Spring.
You may ask what the Arab Revolution has to do with ancient Roman Egypt? Well, for starters, I wouldn’t have thought to begin the book in Leptis Magna, which is outside of Tripoli, Libya. At least, I don’t think I would have. I will never know, of course, because I chose the path I am on. No one can say where another path would have lead me.
I don’t think Elektra would go off to the Nafusa Mountains to learn the Sacred Arts (magic – or black magic, if you prefer to use its power in that way) if I hadn’t followed battles there during the Libyan Revolution via twitter. I wouldn’t have realized how ancient the Imazighen people are. That’s “Berbers” to those who don’t know that the truly native (non-Arab) North African prefers to be called an Amazigh (singular). Their language is properly known as Tamazight and remarkably close to the language spoken in ancient Egypt.
But I have diverged. There’s more to the Arab Spring influence on my writing than geography. Until I lived the stories coming out of Libya, Egypt and Syria, I had no real understanding of brutality. I knew about it intellectually. I’ve done extensive research on the Roman Empire. I studied Latin years ago. I’ve seen almost every film made on ancient Rome. But there was something about the modern brutality I experienced through twitter that simply brought ancient horrors to life.
When I was writing a couple of scenes, which I believe I portrayed with just enough detail that you can use your imagination to make more graphic if you please, I reminded myself that things much worse happen every day, right now. “No,” I tell myself. “It’s not over the top.” It happened. Far worse things happened. And it was institutionalized – an accepted part of culture and life.
The Black Scroll, after 27,000 words, deals so far with slavery, the power of magic – perceived or real – and of course, Elektra. Isis has gone back through the Red Mirror to her incarnation in 130 AD, the time of Hadrian. If the book evolves as the other two, I’m not quite a third of the way into the story.
It’s been intense. This book is very different from The Red Mirror and The Emerald Tablet, which are actually different from each other. I think that a trilogy is usually a continuing story with very similar drama. So perhaps it is appropriate, after all, that I have re-titled the group as Red Mirror Series. The modern story is the continuing thread that binds them together. And the characters, of course. The reincarnating circle of souls.
I’d like to think that each book can be read separately. I tried to write them that way. I’ve had some feedback from readers who started with The Emerald Tablet and report enjoying it very much with no issues of ‘feeling lost.’
Elektra‘s story has begun with new characters in key roles. That’s just the way she’s telling it. My impression as I leave ancient Libya to make for Egypt, is that Hektor, the General, Antinous and River God will soon take center stage.
BTW, you’ll notice that I don’t have a new name for River God, aka Black Falcon. I’m waiting for him to reveal himself.