So, above all else, this is supposed to be a writer’s blog. It’s becoming more and more things (I changed the subtext to “a blog of many things“), and I had the realization that I shouldn’t get bogged down in maintaining the blog if it’s detracting from actual creative projects. Much as I love talking about my hobbies…
Anyway, for this post I want to lay down some persistent ideas that I’ve had for stories, worlds/settings, or just experiments in form and medium. Some of these I’ve actually started working on. So here we go.
Gettin’ Busy with the Byzzies
I’m fascinated with the Byzantine Empire, and I always have been. It’s a unique time, place, culture, collection of characters, etc, very different from what you’d find in the ancient or medieval western civilizations. And many people in the West have either never heard of it, or know next to nothing about it, which boggles the mind! It lasted for over a thousand years, so it’s hard to understand why it’s become such a footnote in history.
Anyway, it’s been a favorite subject of mine for years now, and I’ve probably read enough material on it to write a solid research paper. I recently began work on a Storynexus game set in Constantinople, but it’s on hiatus for the foreseeable future. Way too big and ambitious, and it would end up being a free-to-play game. I’m at a point in my life where I have less free time, and it grows increasingly more valuable. So it would be nice if I could get paid when I give it up, y’know?
SO, the big story that I wanted to tell in the Purple Chamber was of the Fourth Crusade, and the events leading up to it. This is one of the most tragic events of the era, with thousands of innocent people killed, and the greatest city in the world more or less destroyed. Although the Byzantines survived for roughly another two centuries, this was basically the end for them, everything kinda sucked from that point on.
So why does it make a good story? It’s the stuff of Greek tragedy for one thing. Everything leading up to it was caused by hubris, greed, misunderstanding and misplaced faith. It also has a cast of fascinating characters, readily supplied for me to use. For one there’s the corrupt Angelos family, the rulers of the Empire. They include an incompetent Emperor who blinded his brother and stole the throne, his scheming wife who is the true power behind said throne, and his lascivious daughter who is in bed with the man plotting a coup. The only problem is that everyone is named Alexios, but that’s what nicknames are for.
This particular set of events also has a compelling set of mysteries to explore, mainly concerning how much of it was accident, and how much was… CONSPIRACY (gasp)! When you read the story of how the Crusade happened, there’s a lot that doesn’t make sense, but you tend to notice how well everything worked out for the “villains” of the story, meaning the Venetians. The shrewd merchants of Venice are represented by the cunning Doge, Enrico Dandolo. This guy is the perfect antagonist, and I feel like I have to make this project, if just to tell his story.
Okay, so currently, I’m writing a screenplay on-and-off. It’s a total fantasy project, I don’t know how it will ever get made into anything (I envisioned it as an animated web series). But I love this stuff too well to just let it stew in my head. Maybe I can turn it into a play, or a comic, or something, we’ll see. But I’m having fun with it, and hopefully it continues that way. I’m focusing on many of the events and characters I mentioned, and also adding a few of my own. My current protagonist is a young eunuch slave, recently brought to Constantinople. It seemed like an interesting way to explore gender stuff in a new way, and also shake things up with a non-traditional main character. I think it also helps to have an outsider perspective in this setting, which is kind of unfamiliar and weird to contemporary Western audiences.
This is but one of many ideas I’m working on, but apparently I need to share every bit of minutia, so I think this is going to be another “serial” set of posts. There’s still plenty of great stories to share about the Byzantines, but that should probably be it’s own thing. Until next time…
Image courtesy of the Cornell University Library, no known copyright restrictions