Passage to a Past

Did you see my interview with Amy yesterday in Passages to the Past at http://www.passagestothepast.com/#. If not, check it out. For my purposes here, today, instead of talking about The Rose and the Whip, I want to give you a glimpse into my current project. Balderdash (my affectionate working title) is based on a manuscript I found a few years ago in the archive of a historical site. I’ve been enchanted by this manuscript ever since I photographed each page with my phone, then transcribed and notated the entire document over the course of several weeks following my discovering. One of the things that is most intriguing to me is the fact that the MS truly is balderdash, it’s nonsense, and totally not suitable for publication in its original form. Conversely, this is distressing to me because the man who wrote was so clearly proud of his accomplishment in researching and writing his family history. In the opening scene of the book, at least as it is written now, I make reference to a magical door through which my protagonist steps into a past time. I wrote the scene with C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) in mind. I never actually read this book, or any in The Chronicles of Narnia series, but the idea of walking through a magical door and entering a fantastical world, part past part present, stuck with me. C.S. Lewis’ version of this door is a wardrobe, through which the children must push aside clothes to find a door in the back. In my current project, that passage is made through a cellar door. But, this picture really exemplifies for me what such a door would look like. This is, literally, a doorway to the past. Ercolano, named for the ancient city of Herculaneum, is the present-day town under which time stopped when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. Balderdash will not be any kind of science fiction, but it will deal with our perception of history and historical information as it is used to create a viable narrative, and thus how far can we trust this information as “truth”.


Ercolano, Italy, February 2010

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