I have told many people I am writing a book. They are usually interested (or polite) enough to ask what it is about. When I tell them, most ask why that time period and that subject matter. That is an curious story.
I love classical opera. In 1990, The New York Metropolitan Opera produced and televised Wagner's Ring Cycle, a series of 4 operas over 4 consecutive nights. It is based on one of the old sagas, the Volsunga Saga to be exact. After seeing the operas I read the saga and loved the heroism, the tragedy, and how small acts can result in terrible consequences.
So I got to thinking (and my friends and family will tell you that is a dangerous thing!): Such heroism and tragedy must have had their origins in real people and circumstances. All legends have the element of truth in them. There was someone who was important enough, or did something important enough, to cause stories and songs to be composed about them. The facts were embellished or lost over time, but someone got the ball rolling, as it were. What if one were to write a story telling more of the fact than the legend?
The Volsunga Saga was based on the Burgundians, a German tribe that occupied the middle Rhine from about the first century AD to about the fifth century AD. I did some research and found they were not very interesting. There was little written about them and they did not have much interaction with the Romans. In my research I came upon another Germanic tribe of the same era, the Alemanni, and I instantly felt a connection.
I switched to researching the Alemanni, not an easy task as there was no internet or online book sales. Fortunately, I had just finished up a Bachelor's Degree at a local university and still had access to their library. Still, there wasn't a whole lot of information available. Being stubborn, I wrote a rough draft anyway.
I had to put the project aside for twenty-two years; my career in teaching took all my time. I retired in 2009 and revived my writing in 2014. My connection to the Alemanni was stronger than ever. When I am focused, I can hear their conversations, the din of battle, and the noise of their gatherings. I can smell the horses, the forests, and the blood on the battlefield. I have written about only twelve years of their history, but I know their story for the next five hundred years.
I am glad to get the first book out of my system. The second book is also written and should be published around the first of September. The outline for book three is in my head. The story is evolving into a series of trilogies, each one centered around a particular hero. Berand's trilogy is the first.