Earlier this month, I told you how frustrating it is when, in the course of the research for my book, I follow a trail into a dead end. Back then I had been reading about Casanova until I had to admit to myself that he didn’t fit into the chapter that I was re-writing. I swallowed and moved on.
Well, the opposite can happen too. Almost a year ago, my friend Greg Balco (who has since proposed that I rename this blog An Inconvenient Kluth) suggested that I look into the life of Ernest Shackleton as one of my subsidiary stories. Shackleton took a ship named Endurance to explore the Antarctic, but got stuck in the ice, lost the ship and found himself and his crew, truly, facing a Disaster. What happened next was all about character!
Anyway, I read the book that Greg recommended and loved it–in part because there is a lot of Greg in it. He is a geochronologist and his idea of fun is to camp in the Antarctic ice and drill for snow, or perhaps rocks; or perhaps they just go sledding. He would know exactly what Shackleton and his men endured when they subsisted on blubber on floes of ice for a year, with no light in the winter and no darkness in the summer.
But as my own storyline was evolving Shackleton didn’t seem to fit. Now, a year later, I am reopening the middle chapters to make them perfect. Suddenly one of them has a gaping hole that cries out for a life, a character to fill it.
This is the chapter about the least known of my three main characters: Fabius, the old Roman Senator who fought Hannibal by not fighting him, until the young and dashing Scipio came onto the scene. That doesn’t tell you about the context of the chapter, or about the hole in it that needs filling. Suffice it to say that Shackleton, suddenly, seems to be a perfect fit. Endurance hereby re-enters my bibliography.