Saturday, September 1, 2012

New Short Story Series - Into the Darkness with Gaius Justus Vitalis


Mithras and the
Tauroctony
For a writer, working on a full length novel can be quite a long, burdensome experience. Doing it well can take years and, unless you are Stephen King, typing that last word or getting through that final draft can seem like the far-away end of a long drawn-out campaign. You are in a new world, going to places you have not necessarily been to before, dealing with people whom you may not know, whose actions may come as a surprise. It is a solitary journey as well, getting from the alpha to the omega of your novel.

That is one reason I like to write short stories. It helps to mix things up by writing something in a different period or voice, stretching your literary muscles. For me, short stories are definitely a writing workout. They also allow me to try out new ideas, experiment a little with the craft of writing. If you repeat the same exercise over and over again without changing your weight, you will ‘plateau’ as they say. It is the same with writing. Without changing things up, you will not grow. The short stories I have posted on the right side of this blog are some of my literary exercises written over short periods of time. Of course, they all possess an element of the historical or fantastical – that is what I love to write. But, they were each born of a different image, idea or concept that popped into my head and that I thought would be fun to explore. 

Artist Recreation of Roman fortress at Troesmis
I’ve just begun writing a new series of short stories set during the reign of Augustus, specifically, the year A.D. 8, just prior to the Varus disaster. I won’t give too much away as this will be coming out some time toward the end of October, but it promises to be something quite different, dark and exciting. Here is what I can tell you:

The protagonist is Gaius Justus Vitalis, an optio in the V Macedonica Legion stationed at Troesmis in Moesia Inferior (modern Romania) near where the Danube flows into the Black Sea. At the time, Troesmis was on the frontier and Augustus’ legions, commanded by Tiberius, had been busy putting down a revolt to the east in Pannonia and Dalmatia. Gaius is a long way from his home and family in Rome. He is decorated for his deeds and is a devotee of Mithras, having attained the level of Heliodromus or, Sun-runner.
Carpathian Mountains, Romania

Of course, I am still in the middle of writing this first instalment of the tales of Gaius Justus Vitalis but I hope that this will be very entertaining for everyone. It certainly is fun to research and write about a different period of the Roman Empire, to explore new regions. I’ll be sharing more about the research, setting and characters when the story is out. Suffice it to say that when Samhain comes around (or Halloween as most people refer to it) this story should be an ideal read on a dark, crisp autumn night. 
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