Laying the groundwork for a new novel is one of my favorite parts of the process. I have just begun work on the sequel to “The Wind in the Embers” and it’s wonderfully absorbing. The way I go about this: I start by discovering the main character. This doesn’t necessarily have to be someone who appeared in the previous novel, but because it’s a sequel, it has to be someone related to the characters or events of the previous novel.
In this case, the lives of the main characters in “The Wind in the Embers” have only been partially chronicled. Galla Placidia, Placidius (who is Valentinian III), Flavius Aetius, and Justa are real historical figures, and I have only narrated the first parts of their lives in “The Wind in the Embers”. So any one of them could be the centerpiece of this next book.
But I also have to consider the audience I am reaching with “The Wind in the Embers”, a book about a remarkable woman, which will naturally appeal to a female audience. If I haul off and write a book with Aetius as the main character, those female readers are likely to be disappointed. So I need a woman. I can’t use Galla, because she’s already told her story in “The Wind in the Embers”, and I can’t use Justa, because the historical material about her is scant, and, besides, she is the perfect antagonist (she is such a conniving bitch). I need someone else. So I start researching female historical figures whose lives touch on my story. And I don’t have to go far.
Licinia Eudocia, the daughter of the Eastern Roman Emperor, who weds Placidius at the end of “The Wind in the Embers”, is perfect. First, there’s enough historical material to get an idea of who she was in real life, but more than that, her story is as good as Galla’s! I don’t want to give anything away at this point, but suffice it to say, there’s infidelity, murder, rape and kidnapping on the menu. (These Romans left no box unchecked.) So now I’ve got my main character.
Next I have to start shaping a narrative out of the known historical facts. But more about that later. Thanks for reading. And don’t forget, the print book of “The Wind in the Embers” is available on Amazon now. The Ebook is still about a month away.