On starting the edits for The Jerusalem Puzzle

Posted by on Jun 28, 2012 in On Writing

Yesterday I started the edits for The Jerusalem Puzzle. I received two pages of notes from my editor at Harper Collins in London on Monday. Her comments included many compliments “powerful – expertly brought to life,” which are encouraging, but I won’t go on any more about, and suggestions for three extra scenes. The first will be where Sean explains in detail why he wants to go to Jerusalem. The second will be where Henry’s involvement is expanded. The final one, at the end, will be where discussions take place about what happened in Jerusalem. There are also notes from HC on each page of the manuscript, which need to be considered. This is all about 6 weeks work, editing maybe 2-3 hrs a day. After this we will have something truly interesting for you for January release. Thank you for staying with me on this journey. If you would like to follow a series of posts on fiction writing for the 21st century sign up for updates on the right. There will be one post a month on the progress of The Jerusalem Puzzle towards launch next January and one post a month on writing craft issues. Here is the first post on writing: http://lpobryan.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/get-your-writing-noticed-1-series-introduction/ You can preorder The Jerusalem Puzzle for UK readers here or for US/Aus/NZ here or Canada here. The image below is of the Italian hardback edition of The Istanbul Puzzle, which is all over Italy at the moment. It was launched June 21st. If you know anyone in Italy please tell them it is available there....

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Old Jerusalem, an ancient city in a modern age

Posted by on Feb 23, 2012 in Research, The Jerusalem Puzzle

Written February 2012 I am spending time in the old city of Jerusalem. If I stay here any longer I’ll probably have to apply for a resident’s permit. And as I am staying in East Jerusalem that may be tricky. My reason for being here, aside from the welcome sun, is to research the next stage of Sean and Isabel’s adventures. If you read The Istanbul Puzzle you’ll probably know that there are a few questions at the end still hanging. The Jerusalem Puzzle will move the story forward and answer some key questions. As part of my research in old Jerusalem, where the book is mainly set, I have spent a lot of time in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the legendary site of Jesus’ crucifiction, his tomb and the burial place of Adam’s skull, according to some 2nd century sources. Whatever your beliefs, this place is an extraordinary building, a mix of mainly Crusader and 19th century, Armenian, Catholic and Orthodoxy all rolled into one. This was the place a lot of people died for before the crusades, during the crusades, and ever afterwards. Richard the Lion Heart and Saladin fought over this place and almost every other Empire since has had plans to capture it. Here is what the entrance to the legendary tomb of Jesus looks like now (click each image to see it in all its glory): This church is the most important place of pilgrimage in the Christian world. Bar none. What I found though, at the end of my last visit, was a less than spiritual place. I had queued to get in to the small chapel where Jesus’ tomb is supposed to be with cries of “hurry, hurry, we are closing,” echoing in my ears. I’d visited where Mary, Mother of Jesus fell into an eternal sleep (legend says), on Mount Zion the day before and I was lucky that I went down into that underground tomb with the sound of a Polish group singing hymns echoing in my ears. That place was spiritual. Much of the rest of the old city is a heady mix of the Arab souk, with plastic toys and wooden crosses for tourists, and a wedge of Abercrombie and coffee shop Westerness pushing up close to the city from the Jewish and modern western side. To me Jerusalem is where three great faiths, Christianity, the Jewish faith and Islam all overlap with their bits fraying. The Islamic faith is well represented here in the famous Golden Dome and mosques and the regular call to prayer filling the air. The Jewish faith is evident in the devotion at the Western Wall, the Orthodox faithful almost everywhere, and through the joy of young men being escorted with drums and horns through the crowds. The Christian faith is evident  in the extraordinary churches and the pilgrims from all...

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The Manhattan Puzzle – US Bailout costs

Posted by on Jan 2, 2012 in Research, The Manhattan Puzzle

Cost, as of end 2012, of the financial bail out in the U.S. alone: * $29 billion for Bear Stearns * $143.8 billion for AIG (this far) * $100 billion for Fannie Mae * $100 billion for Freddie Mac * $700 billion for Wall Street, including Bank of America (Merrill Lynch), Citigroup, JP Morgan (WaMu), Wells Fargo (Wachovia), Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and a lot more * $25 billion for The Big Three in Detroit * $8 billion for IndyMac * $150 billion stimulus package (from January ’09) * $50 billion for money market funds * $138 billion for Lehman Bros. (post bankruptcy) through JP Morgan * $620 billion for general currency swaps from the Fed ROUGH TOTAL: $2,063,800,000,000 Yes, over $2 trillion dollars. As of the end of 2012. That’s about $6,800 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S.A.. But there isn’t enough money available to balance the...

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The 3rd Puzzle: Where are the plague pits that mark the beginning of our world?

Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Historical Puzzles

In the sixth century the word’s smallest organism, Yersina Pestis, the bubonic plague bacterium, achieved its greatest growth spike. During the reign of Justinian (Emperor 527 to 565CE) the plague hit Constantinople, the capital of the Roman Empire. Almost every city of the Empire was devastated in an apocalyptic manner. Gibbon (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) describes the effect of the epidemic as follows: Justinian’s reign is disgraced by the visible decrease of the human species, which has never been repaired in some of the fairest countries of the globe. Cyril Mango, Professor of Byzantine Literature at Oxford University describes the apocalyptic effects in his book Byzantium, The Empire of the New Rome, in this way: it is possible that one third to one half of the population of Constantinople died in 542. John Julius Norwich had this to say (Byzantium, The Early Centuries) about the plague: Beginning in Egypt it quickly spread across all the lands of the Eastern Mediterranean to Constantinople where it raged for four months, the toll rising to 10,000 a day and on one day 16,000, as many as the entire army in Italy…..Plague was succeeded by famine and the number of its victims was estimated at 300,000, two out of five of the population of the city. Gibbon describes where the dead were taken as follows (Ch XLIII, The Decline and Fall): A magistrate was authorized to collect the promiscuous heaps of dead bodies, to transport them by land or water, and to inter them in deep pits beyond the precincts of the city. Initially, burials would have taken place according to the normal Orthodox practices, anointing the body with oil, singing laments and burial in a grave. Burials of prominent individuals or clerics would have taken place in crypts or in consecrated land near great churches. The Islamic successes of the seventh century, they quickly captured Egypt, Jerusalem and North Africa, were made possible, to a significant degree, by the devastation of constantly returning plagues at that time. The plague had returned to Constantinople, the capital of the Roman Empire, in 555, 558, 561, 573, 574, 591, 599 and again in the early seventh century. Waves of unrest followed across the Empire. Evidence for the collapse of cities is available. The psychological effect must have been appalling. In Constantinople, during some outbreaks, John of Ephesus wrote, “no one goes out without a tag with their name on it.” It should also be noted that the Arabian desert was typically plague free during these years. If ever an Empire was set up for defeat it was the Byzantine Empire in that period. It could be said that most of our current conflicts are a result of the impact of disease at that time and the subsequent ascent of a new religion. In Constantinople plague pits are likely to have been dug outside...

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The 4th Puzzle: St. Paul’s Cathedral

Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Historical Puzzles

The history of St Paul’s is a real historical puzzle. Between 7 September 1940 and 10 May 1941 Nazi bombers dropped tens of thousands of tons of explosives on London. St Paul’s Cathedral survived almost unscathed. In September 1940 alone, the Luftwaffe dropped 5,300 tons of high explosives on London in just 24 nights. The image of St Paul’s rising above the smoke of a burning London is an enduring, seemingly miraculous, symbol of the defiance of the English speaking peoples against fascism. It’s survival of course could simply be due to good luck. All this is well known, as is the history of the present St Paul’s, designed by Sir Christopher Wren following the destruction of the previous cathedral in the Great Fire of London in 1666. What interests me is the earliest and most mysterious secrets of St Paul’s. The present St Paul’s is believed to be the fifth Christian church on the site since the first Saxon cathedral was built by Mellitus in 604. Before that the city spent a period sparsely occupied following the expulsion of the Roman civilian administration in 409 recorded by Zosimus. It is uncertain whether the site of St Paul’s was a Christian site when Londinium was under Roman rule, but it may well have been towards the end of that period, and it most likely would have been the site of a Roman temple before that. As to what happened after the decline and fall of the Roman Empire archeologists have found evidence that a small number of wealthy families managed to maintain a Roman lifestyle until the middle of the 5th century, inhabiting villas in the southeastern corner of the city.  It was during this period that Arthur, according to legend, drew the sword from the stone in the churchyard of St Paul’s. In Arthurian romance, a number of explanations are given for Arthur obtaining the Kingship by pulling a sword from a stone. In most accounts the act could not be performed except by “the true king,” meaning the divinely appointed king or true heir of Uther Pendragon. In English mythology the stone which holds Arthur’s sword is “…the genius loci, the spirit of the earth beneath us…” (Catlin Matthews, Arthur and The Sovereignty of Britain). It is likely that the legend has religious significance. Secret initiations carried out by Druids in that period would have been influenced by and perhaps have been similar to the mystery school ceremonies of Greece and Egypt, which were imported into Roman Britain in the previous centuries. These mystery schools incorporated underworld reenactments of the Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries. The anvil atop the stone in Malory’s story is an example of the allegorical symbols used to depict spiritual ties to the underworld. The anvil holding Arthur’s sword may represent the lower or animal worlds and the drawing of the sword may have a symbolic meaning related to the struggle of our human...

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