by Chesea Quinn Yarbro
The hardest thing in writing historical fiction is not to convey what the people did that's the easy, obvious part but what they thought they were doing. What did they intend to accomplish, and why did they suppose they could achieve those ends through their actions? The answers to those basic questions shape all my historical horror fiction, including this novel. That's where the real marrow lies.
With a long-time on-going series like this one, I am constrained by what I have said in previous books; many of the readers keep careful track of Saint-Germain's history. For the last quarter century, the Saint-Germain Cycle has bounced around through 3,500 years of history and in those adventures has made references to other events that limit and shape what I can do with the character, and when I can do it. There are a few additional requirements for telling these stories: that the society in which it takes place be tolerant enough of foreigners and outsiders (for Saint-Germain is certainly both) to allow him a degree of leeway in his activities, and that there be access of some sort to women.
Six of the thirteen novels prior to this one make references to Karl-lo-Magne (Charlemagne), and those determined how I approached this story. I reviewed all that Saint-Germain had said or remembered about Big Karl, and began to build the story around those recollections. To that end for this and all other tales, I maintain a detailed chronology of Saint-Germain's life, so that the books will be consistent.
As with the other books in the series, Night Blooming began with a great deal of reading: books on Karl-lo-Magne, including accounts by his contemporaries; military histories of the Franks; references on money, food, government, the Church, agriculture, mining, clothing, trade, travel, hunting, societal groups, arts, learning, communications, and everything else that might have a bearing on recreating that long-vanished culture. All information that can help me immerse you in the story is useful to me, even if it doesn't end up on the page: it's important to know enough about a historical period to know what can be left out as much as what must be included. One of the most useful of the books I read in terms of an overview of the culture was Pierre Riche's Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne. That was one of many. For Night Blooming, I read over forty references -- about average for the series -- and took eight experts to lunch in order to pick their brains. I hope the result offers a window on a time that still manages to have an impact on us, twelve hundred years later.
Copyright © 2002 Chelsea Quinn
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Copyright © 2005