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    Sunday
    Mar252012

    Rumors of the book's death have been greatly exaggerated...

    The ruins of Anazarbos, a former Roman city that served as the launching pad for Muslim raids into Asia Minor by the early 8th century (courtesy of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut)I'll spare you the lengthy explanations of all the delays that have interfered with the timely completion of my project on the Second Siege of Constantinople and the clash between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Umayyad Caliphate. That kind of hemming and hawwing might work for George R. R. Martin, but somehow I doubt it'll help much.

    On the other hand, I don't have fans by the millions making death threats if I don't hurry up and complete it. So there are pros and cons, I suppose.

    The novel does continue, let's leave it at that. I draft a bit, research a bit, hack off extraneous subplots (which tend to sprout like suckers around the trunk of a pear tree), and draft a bit more. Along the way I learn every day about the deep and complex cultures I've chosen to inhabit during the writing of this sprawling work. It's hard to say whether I find the Romaioi (Eastern Romans, Byzantines) or the early Islamic peoples more fascinating. Half the battle is trying to remain true to the different worldviews of those two distant cultures - each distinct from the other in profound ways, and both utterly unlike our own.

    One day, I'm an amateur archaeologist, sifting through summaries of projects spanning much of southeastern Europe and northwestern Asia. The next, I'm trying to get a grasp of numismatics, or medieval economics, or comparative linguistics. I've found myself delving into the history of food and agriculture, metallurgy, shipbuilding and navigation, cartography and the methods and materials used by early medieval scribes. Comparative religion... always top of mind, for better or worse. I constantly have to remind myself that the research is merely the means, not the end. The book still has to get written.

    And here I said I wasn't going to make excuses...

    I'll be starting to work on a Master's in Fine Arts degree in Writing at Pacific University in June. A major element of my work there will be to make significant progress on this novel, with the help of some of the best mentors in the business. Stay tuned. Both of you.