Working on the Next Book

No one ever told me that in order to write science fiction I would have to study: Ottoman logistics, mules, sanitation and water supply of the Roman Empire, the Thirty Years War and the development of military technology from 1200-1800, the internal political and economic situation of the Habsburg Empire between 1914-1919, the city of Vienna’s food supply between 1914-1919 (in a word, it sucked), Hungarian history, Renaissance battles, Russian Imperial military tactics and internal politics before 1914 (also sucked, at least the politics did), and assorted other oddities. Now it is naval engineering of the late 1600s and Russian orthodox theological controversies related to the Old believer or “spiritual wrestlers” problem.

Why sailing ships? Because the next Colplatschki book, the one that has been fighting me until this past weekend (now it’s just grinning at me and making rude noises instead of refusing to let me work on it.) And it is about the re-connection of two parts of the northern hemisphere of ColPlatXI. Which involves ships, and someone learning about ships. An almost hyperactive someone who insists on seeing how things are made, and why, and trying his own hand at them. Which means the author has to learn the hows and whys enough that I don’t get angry e-mails about mixing up the keel and the bowsprit.

At least I already know which part of the boat goes in the water, and some basics of rigging and ship handling. What I don’t know are the steps from tree=>wood=>special cuts and shapes of wood=>hull=>stuff in the hull=>masts and main deck=>ship. This character wants to know. And he’s dragging me along with him. Did I mention he’s mildly hyperactive? Have you ever tried to keep a hyperactive character on track so the reader doesn’t SQUIRREL!!!

Um, where was I? Yeah, so I’m having to learn about the age of sail, among other things. Like Russian Orthodox theological controversies of the 16th and 17th centuries.

And Rada Ni Drako is leaning on the door frame of my office, with Zabet peering over her shoulder, both of them grinning, and saying, “Miss us yet?”

Mutter mutter characters mutter mutter wiseacres mutter mutter.

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5 thoughts on “Working on the Next Book

  1. I promise to do my best to assuage the pains of learning (and keeping wayward characters and plot lines in their place) by throwing money at the books when they come out. Does that make it any better?

  2. A group called Minstrosity (when they were around) had a tune, The Ballad of Tommy Gibb. It happened because someone lent John Wiseman a book of nautical terms and he.. ran with it. If you can find it, give it a listen – but only AFTER writing that book. They explain that it’s nonsense, and had a tale of performing it before some sailing vessel sailors… who were.. taken aback by the sheer level of insanity of the lyrics.

  3. I once learned to sail, many many moons ago. Gave it up for Lent, somewhere around 1970 (and I was raised a Southern Baptist!). SOME of that knowledge is still rattling around in my head, but in absolutely no order, and probably grossly incomplete. Just remember that men have been sailing since about the 4th century BC (maybe even earlier), and that it’s changed every year since then about as much as military equipment and warfare has.

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