Monday, August 9, 2010

FID: Byzantium -- Constantinople -- Istanbul

The Place: I felt that future readers of FID (especially those who enjoy historical fiction) might appreciate a bit of history behind the story. Since I like to write reality fiction (fictional characters in real places) I'll start with the place where the villain resides: Istanbul, Turkey. There is a key reason for this location. This is what I call: the "head" part of the story--learning something about a new place; the other parts being the "heart" and the "soul".

Chapter 5 opens with the villain on his balcony, in late afternoon, observing the river (below is the original draft of the beginning of chapter 5 as the villain is introduced):
* * *
From the third-story balcony of his four-star boutique hotel, Samael Janus, a tall, broad-shouldered albino man, peered down at the shimmering blue waters of the Golden Horn River. He squinted as the afternoon sun mirrored off the water, shooting painful rays at his eyes.

     They should have let me die.
* * *
Balcony of Samael's room overlooking the Golden Horn River
The twisted and dark layers of this character begin to unfold in chapters 5-8. There are numerous twist that connect the villain to Istanbul and Istanbul to the main plot of the story. A better understanding of the places and the people, before you dive into the novel, should prove to enhance the enjoyment of the novel.

Fact: The current city of Istanbul, Turkey has been known by three different names:

What is now called Asian Istanbul was probably inhabited by people as early as 3000 BC. Eventually, in the 7th century, Greek colonists led by King Byzas established the colony of Byzantium, the Greek name for a city on the Bosphorus. Byzas chose the spot after consulting an oracle of Delphi who told him to settle across from the "land of the blind ones." Indeed, Byzas concluded, earlier settlers must have been deprived of their sight to have overlooked this superb location at the mouth of the Bosphorus strait. This proved an auspicious decision by Byzas, as history has shown Istanbul's location important far beyond what these early Greek settlers might possibly have conceived. Byzas gave his name to the city: Byzantium.

In the early 100's BC, it became part of the Roman Empire and in 306 AD, Emperor Constantine the Great made Byzantium capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. From that point on, the city was known as Constantinople.

Finally, in 1453, when Constantinople was so weakened by almost constant invasions and battles, the Ottoman Turks led by Sultan Mehmet II were able to conquer the city. Renamed Istanbul, it became the third and last capital of the Ottoman Empire. It was the nerve center for military campaigns that were to enlarge the Ottoman Empire dramatically.

I'll stop here for now. In future post, I will add to the layers of the story-behind-the-story in such a way that only when you read the novel will you fully appreciate the informaton in these post. You can rest easy that I will not spoil any of the story.

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