Writing and the Big Bang. But first, the news…


The Wolves of Pavlava  is ‘live’ on Amazon.com since the middle of August.  There was one glitch at the beginning of September–yours truly found some errors, minor,  probably mildly annoying to some readers but very irritiating  to the writer–which necessitated changes to the book interior to correct the booboos. That is one great advantage of  POD–you can make changes anytime. It only interrupts sales for a couple of days.  And if you’re like me–one book at a time–it’s no great disaster, believe me. But even with the book not being available for a  week, 15 people purchased the Wolves so far! Since I only have like 5 friends I can cajole, badger and torture to purchase the book, this is not bad.  The Wolves is now on Kindle as well.  Very easy to do, as I found out. ..  The first day it showed up on Kindle, 3 people bought it.  Zee link:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Wolves-of-Pavlava-ebook/dp/B0042X98R2


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The Big Bang


The second question readers and friends ask me–after they ask me what’s the novel all about–is: How did you end up writing it? How did you come up with this story?  The last to ask me this was Eirian Phillips, writer extraordinaire of Stargate lore (http://cedarfiction.net/index.html ) and all I was able to answer was–it was the Big Bang.  When asked such a question the expectation is that I rest my chin on my closed fist, strike a thinking pose, frown a little (not too much so that I don’t add wrinkles to my face), take on an ethereal look, and if truly desperate, do the Old World author thing and actually pick up a pipe, fill it, tap down the tobacco, light it while producing a cloud of smoke (Dunhill, please)  and then spout something deep, something about a desire to change the world, to probe the universe, to bring to this world justice, peace, equality, fraternity and galactic flights.  To put it in a less genteel way, I should do what authors do on such occasions–let the sun shine out of my back side. However, I really try to abstain from such endeavors, to protect the world from the dazzling solar flares.

It really was like the Big Bang, out of nothing, without any great thought or deep thinking, or plan, or purpose (unless you subscribe to the notion of THE INTELLIGENCE behind the Big Bang; in which case, what can I say…).  I started, really, with one image, one little kernel of a memory of sights and sounds.  I tend to write a scene around that memory. Then my mind goes out from there, like the ripples of water when you throw a pebble in a puddle; then it builds up and goes on, formless and without rhyme or reason, rolling on, a bit of chaos, dust and debris and energy; then gravitation seems to take over and more scenes form in my mind and now they have a core of stories, like forming suns; then there are stories around the one story; like rings of matter around a star. And then all the memories and stories acquire a logic, they fall in place and become a big story, like a solar system. Well, you get the picture.

This is how The Wolves of Pavlava came into existence. First was a memory from my childhood–a winter night in a lodge in the Carpathians. I was looking out the window, all covered in snow, the mountain peaks and the forest. Above, the sky was so full of stars, the snow glowed.  That was when I heard the distant howl of wolves. I was not afraid; I was enthralled. Another memory, an image like a snapshot on my mind, was that of a courtyard inside the Vatican, dusk falling; an image that concentrated in it my fascination with the place and its denizens. Both memories and images suffused my creative universe and started stories. It was, however, the image of the Vatican cortilethat became the first written scene and I used it virtually unchanged from the original I wrote many years ago (and set aside).

The Swiss Guard saluted with a metallic clank as Fra Diego de Avillar, the postulator general for the cause of saints, emerged from a narrow staircase with vaulted ceiling and walked into the cortile illuminated by the light of the galleries above and the lamp hanging from the arch of a cobbled passage. The hour was late, the indigo shadows of falling evening already gathering and thickening within the passageways and courtyards of the Vatican.

Fra Diego stopped in the middle of the cortile and looked up at the windows to see which ones were still lit and having assessed that most offices were dark, only the window to the outer office of Cardinal Rantolla’s enclave still showing a glowing lamp, crossed the cortile and went through a dark doorway and up a flight of steps rising under a barreled ceiling. He came out into a long corridor, a line of arched windows on his left and a frescoed wall on his right converging at the distant end where a solitary candelabrum cast a small light between two massive doors. He covered the distance at a steady, unhurried pace, his steps echoing, his gaunt reflection in the white robe and black mantle of a Dominican passing across the glass panes of the windows.

When he reached the door to the left of the candelabrum, a clock started to chime the hour. He knocked when the chime stopped at the eighth beat. As he entered the room, the sound of the chime still lingering, Cardinal Rantolla’s secretary, an elderly Spanish priest, looked over the rim of his glasses and stood up with a bow.

 Layers upon layers were added to these two images, more memories and images from far and near joined; people and personalities that populated my life and memories became characters, then  took a life of their own and rose to the top of the novel’s character totem pole.  Through the first versions of the story, Pavel Corbu did not even exist–the main character of the novel was Cardinal Ruggiero Rantolla. In the original story, Cardinal Rantolla appointed Monsignor Thomas Invernam envoy to Romania. After a couple of reiterations, Pavel Corbu, a minor officer in the Romanian Security Forces, enters the scene and starts growing in stature. His ambitions and secrets cross those of Invernam and they converge to their origin–Mother Ierusalima of Pavlava. The two men meet  as deadly foes; they became allies, both clever, ruthless and treacherous even; bound by deadly secrets.   

But all this I see in retrospect. As I wrote, none of this was conscious. It just happened. The Big Bang.  

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