Illumincation - written words

Less Than Three Blog Hop: The Way To Your Heart.

I've been giving this some pretty serious thought. I mean, I'm 40 now, I should know what the way to my own heart is by now, shouldn't I?

Well, it turns out that the answer is sort of. There are things that I love—books, films, TV, music (and music isn't just a love, it's *life*--for me, a life without music is not life), art galleries, travel, cooking, sleep, writing—but there is also one thing that I love to itty bitty pieces, and that thing is history.

Nothing makes me happier than to hear of new archaeological discoveries. I'm fascinated by Byzantine history particularly, and the histories of the Third Crusade, North and Southern Song Dynasty in China, the Silk Road before 1300AD, pre-revolution Russia, imperial Rome, and Three Kingdoms period in Korean history, to name a few.

Google Maps now has street view for the Via Appia, the original Via Appia, known now as Via Appia Antiqua, the road that led to Rome and which hundreds of legions feet marched on, where the rebels who followed Spartacus were crucified, and where the rich and powerful walked with the poor and enslaved. It's absolutely fascinating to take this virtual walk down the Via Appia Antiqua and I keep going back to look at it, not the least because Panoramio links photos of places along the Via Appia Antiqua to investigate. If you're like me, then the idea of walking the road without having to leave your home is the next best thing. So hop over this way and enjoy!

It's quite timely that I write this post, actually, as I'm working on edits for "City of Jade," my novel set in the 1130sAD from Constantinople to Hangzhou. I'm extremely invested in this book, prepared to go to great lengths to make sure I get the history right. Not just because I'm a history buff but because it's important to me to get it right for readers. When we think of the Silk Road, we think of deserts, camels and donkeys with goods and packs laden on their backs, of merchants wearing long robes. There's plenty of that, but there's also different foods, clothing, music, cities, market places and souqs and bazaars, fruit and precious stones, castles and houses.

There's something endlessly wonderful about castles, I think. From those of the Crusader states, like the incredible Krak de Chevalier in Syria to those in Europe and the UK, like Pevensey Castle in East Sussex (above) or those incredible abandoned and forgotten castles and chateaus that urbex photographers spend hours exploring and photographing for us all to see and wonder, wistfully, if these places will ever be saved and restored, the magic of the castle never dies.

China is doing something about its history and I could not be more excited. The ancient city of Chang'an, now modern day Xian, was once the eastern terminus of the Silk Road. The Chinese government are preparing to restore that ancient urban layout and I'm very excited to see what they end up with when they've finished. It's certainly increased my desire to visit Xian, that's for sure! The recent discovery of an urban center in Thesaloniki, Greece, of Byzantine origin, also has me excited, and a little fearful. Greece is in an economically precarious position right now, so I'm worried that the finds will be damaged. Another recent find is the discovery of the fourth century AD town of Myra and the church there. And another find at Ur (which appears in "No Shadows Fall," book three of the Archangel Chronicles) has me utterly delighted.

All wonderful things and things that will always fascinate me and keep me thinking and dreaming and hoping that one day, maybe, I can see these wonders for myself and walk among them on my own two feet, not just gaze at photographs with longing.

I've had the great pleasure to visit the Oregonian ghost towns of Bridal Veil, Antelope and Shaniko. I can honestly say that my glee and delight in hobbling around Shaniko was unparalleled. In fact, spending time in the town (what's left of it) of Centralia in Pennsylvania came a very close second to the time I spent in Shaniko. This place will be forever in my heart and it's such a great site and the history is so real and so vibrant, it was impossible not to be touched by it.

So that's the way to my heart. History.

As part of this blog hop, I'm giving away a pdf copy of "The Body on The Beach," my 1920 m/m whodunit, set in the city of Adelaide, where the people may be polite but murder never is. Leave a comment to this entry to go into the draw!

BB Blurb: In 1920, a body is found on Brighton Beach, Adelaide. Billy Liang has been living a respectable life as the representative of Adelaide’s Chinese community—with his lover, lawyer Tom Williams, discreetly at his side. When evidence seems to implicate the people Billy represents, he steps up to help solve the murder. He and Tom deal with illegal opium dens, fantan games and gambling, racism, and being shot at. Though Billy’s family accepts the love he and Tom share, Australia’s laws against sodomy and homosexuality pose a constant danger. Now, the body on the beach brings a whole new threat to Billy and Tom’s life in Adelaide.

Part of the Under the Southern Cross anthology.

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I'm currently researching the wool trade between the east and midlands of England and former English-held territories in France on the one hand, and Burgundy and the Low Countries on the other. Less glamorous than the silk trade, but potentially vital for my saga's backstory.
I love Google Maps street views of Pompeii, Rome, and Stonehenge. Body on the Beach sounds intriguing!
Google Maps is awesome. I was very puzzled when I was in Montreal that I would look stuff up on Google maps and go to the street location only to not find the shop etc there. It took me a while to work out that a lot of buildings in the Montreal CBD had shops and other businesses in their basements. When in doubt, look down. I might have to go check out the Via Appia though. Did you watch Mary Beard's series about the Romans when it was on here?
And OMG. Go here: (It's Pompeii.) In the corner of the map, you'll see a golden looking thing marked 'Treasure'. Click it. It's amazing and I'm all OMG THIS IS AWESOME NEVER SLEEPING AGAIN, bc I'll playing with this for ages.

I did watch that, I found it interesting but her style as a presenter was a bit lacking, so I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have otherwise.
Well, let's hope it's not lather, rinse, repeat! I'm always paranoid about that. >_<

God, seeing Xian as it was will be so amazing, I may actually have no words for it. :D
I love old buildings and places with history in their bones! Can't you just feel it! Thanks!
brendurbanist at gmail dot com
I love history. In America we have history, but it's a young history. What I love is travelling, especially to Europe, to see the old castles, the temples, the old churches. I love the ambiance. I love the pyramids of Egypt. The ruins in Greece. There's so much that I've seen and yet so much to be seen. I haven't seen a lot of Asian history, some but not a lot. That's something that I look forward to seeing.
Australia's the same - young history. It's interesting and sometimes completely amazing, but there's none of that ancient castle or ruins, as you say. Just amazing what's survived to educate and thrill us and still give us pleasure to this day. :D
I am not a world traveller but I have been to a few distant lands in my 40 years here on earth: Australia, New Zealand, all of the United Kingdom and Ireland. I admit I have a thing for castles as well (and stone circles). My favorite history to research is Scottish history.

Thanks Karl
Did you enjoy visiting Australia and New Zealand? (I'm a bit biased, being Australian!)

Stone circles! Yes! They are absolutely fascinating and so beautiful.
oh wow, we both wrote about history. I hadn't realized that until just now. Share the love! Plus I really want to read your knew story.

Such indepth research; that's awesome. Love the concept of the novel too. Brilliant.
Yay history!

I personally would love to visit Machu Picchu, the Pyramids of Giza, the temples of Kyoto, and the Terracotta Army someday.

Would love to read a story set down under, since my shelf (actual & virtual) is sadly lacking in that department, especially a mystery set in the early 20th century!
I'd love to visit those too. Especially Giza and the Terracotta Army in Xi'an. That would be so awesome.

Good luck in the draw!
I haven't traveled a lot and the pictures you've shared look amazing. The info provided was also interesting. Maybe one day we'll have our traveling moments to the places we've always wanted to go.

Edited at 2013-04-03 04:59 am (UTC)
I've been all around Australia and over to the US and Canada, but there are so many other places I'd love to visit. It would be wonderful to have that dream fulfilled. :)
Ooh yes, that's a great discovery. And so many layers to the ruins, too. Fascinating.

Good luck in the draw. :)
Archeology always fascinates's so cool to be able to puzzle out an object's link to history, and the whole hidden aspect is so intriguing!

Trix, vitajex(at)aol(dot)com
(Sorry for the delay in replying, LJ didn't send me the notification.)

It really is - there's been a new discovery of a painting of a man beneath a Roman fresco, which is just incredible. Adds a whole new level to archaeological finds!
Ooh, "City of Jade" sounds good (is very interested) and I really want to read "The Body on the Beach" :)

I love reading about history and interesting places, though I haven't had the opportunity to travel as much as I want to.
I'm pretty proud of "City of Jade," I have to say. Though it took me forever and sometimes felt like pushing rocks uphill! :D

I haven't, either. I'd love to see more of the world.

(Thanks for the link back too - muchly appreciated. :D)