I’m going to be honest about my writing style. I don’t follow rules. Some of it is because professional editing does cost a great deal, a great deal I don’t have. There are times when my POV and tenses tend to shift abruptly. Some of these changes are accidental. But not all of them. Sometimes they are purposeful. And subtly, I will also “interject” my “thought” into the story, almost narrate. Some call this a distraction. I do not. Perhaps this is because I tend to look at story telling simply as story telling, nothing more, nothing less.
When I’m writing, I imagine an old graybeard speaking to his tribe around a blazing campfire, a sky of stars above them, espousing the great legends, amplifying the truth of their shared history with pinches of emotion and dashes of thought. While rules of writing create a logical conformity of understanding, I don’t believe breaking the rules occasionally takes anything away from the tale, if the tale be potent enough.
So one of the other rules I broke in my first published book, ‘The Crystal Crux – Betrayal’, was delaying the introduction of the protagonist. The caballero, Pero de Alava, does not enter the story until Chapter 10 ‘Bastard Son’. In fact, Pero’s name isn’t even mentioned until Chapter 4 when the antagonist, which is actually a whole family, the Fabbro family, plots to betray and destroy him.
“Inform the Holy Father in Rome that we in Parthenope are most eager and determined to prove our devotion to the Eternal City. A diligent examination of the subjects in Campania has revealed to us, by reason of sin, an interloper in our midst, a most troublesome official appointed to our lands seasons ago by the emperor. And most fittingly, like Spartacus and Hannibal before him, this unprincipled, disloyal Spaniard holes up in Capua. He is Pero de Alava, a foreign knight of Penafiel and a traitor to the Church. He has vocally supported the claims of Philip (of Swabia).”
Seven of the first nine chapters of ‘The Crystal Crux – Betrayal’ are devoted to the Fabbro family. You learn a great deal about their past, about the history that placed Gherardus Fabbro on the throne in Parthenope in 1198.
Parthenope is an ancient name for the city of Naples. I decided to use Parthenope instead of Naples. Being a work of historical fantasy, I thought it more fitting to apply an alteration to the medieval fabric. The city had once been named after the siren Parthenope and I figured I could incorporate this legend in later books.
The two chapters that do not speak of the Fabbro family go back even further in time to the creation of the Bellerophon Crystals. Yes, flashbacks at the begin – more rule breaking.
The actual story of ‘The Crystal Crux’ is played out over ten days in August in 1198.
Book One covers Day One, as well as flashing back to the creation of the crystals, a tragedy in the Fabbro family, as well as things that connect several characters together, including Pero de Alava and his best friend and Estate Steward, Francis Whitehall. You also learn how Pero meets his intended, Anthea Manikos.
But back to the Fabbro family. The Fabbro family alone consists of 14 characters.
Book One begins in the year 1170 with Meliore Fabbro and her husband Tancred. Tancred Fabbro is the Lord of Parthenope, Grand Duke of Campania.
Meliore and Tancred Fabbro have three sons, Avenel, Gherardus and Turstin.
In 1170, Avenel has already lost a wife and two daughters to disease.
Gherardus is wed to Bertina, who has survived a stroke giving birth to their youngest son, Talento, an ambassador for Campania. The eldest son, Rugerius, is one of the main features of Book One. He is a violent rogue and the Castellan of Parthenope. He is carnally involved with his cousin, Viridian, who is sixteen years his junior. Viridian came to live in the palace when her father, unnamed, and her mother Anjalee, Meliore’s sister, died in a shipwreck.
Turstin Fabbro is wed to Druda. They have two sons Tomas and Dato but the boys don’t appear until near the end of Book One.
Also, briefly mentioned is Tancred’s father Reginald Fabbro, long passed, who was said to have been a giant tribal king type, gifting his son Tancred a high back chair on his wedding day to Meliore.
Pero de Alava is the protagonist but everything that will happen during the ten days of August in 1198, harked back to the events of the first two chapters, the things that happened in 1170.
Historical Fantasy Fiction is challenging to write, in that while incorporating myth and magic, you can’t lose sight of what was really happening in the world around the characters. Many Fantasy Fiction stories operate in completely imagined worlds where the author can spontaneously create landscapes, cities and peoples who formerly did not exists to do whatever they want them to do to save a challenging scene. In Historical Fantasy, you strive to stay true to landscapes, cities and peoples no matter what, interjecting your characters into them.
One of my greatest challenges when I started writing ‘The Crystal Crux’ was to build a dynasty of power in the city on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea to serve as a foil to the Pero de Alava. The Fabbro family is that dynasty, and as Turstin tells it, “My family, the Fabbro family, does not play well with others. We are proud and we are cruel. We are keepers of dark secrets. I am not without sin. My brothers are not without sin. It is all I can do some days to pray, implore the good Lord for forgiveness.”