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!
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.