On this day in history – in the year 1840 and in the 4th year of her reign – Queen Victoria married Prince Albert.
Between two conventions that are many miles apart, and on the night before the official release of her first hardcover novel with Tor Books, Leanna Renee Hieber still managed to Tweet about this blog. I’ve read The Eterna Files and, with the Nerdy Duo, was able to produce the official book trailer for the book. I’ve even done some fan art, though I did get a detail wrong. The badge should say, “Special Branch” and not “Metropolitan Police”.
All of these experiences are special to me and I recommend the first one to you today.
Ms. Hieber has crafted a suspenseful tale about magic and mysticism that does not cross the line into the horror genre. There are too many stories in the world that don’t navigate away from that dividing line. The author expertly avoids losing control of the story she needs to tell.
While I cannot say that Ms. Hieber is the reincarnation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, because I do not believe that’s the case, I am fairsure that whomever she was during the Victorian era – she would have been attending the same symposia on Spiritualism as that kindred author.
Buying the book – and today – is strongly encouraged. Ms. Hieber’s professionalism and true love of her craft is a significant part of why I feel encouraged to the same in my own work. Liking her Author page is also adjured because developments there are announced with the deliberation of Sir Doyle’s most famous creation. Both the book and the Like are truly worth your time.
In preparing to write a novel about more than a few characters who can see the future, it’s been essential to read about the past.
The Seer in Ancient Greece by Michael Attyah Flower, University of California Press, 2009
Michael Attyah Flower has presented a very thorough description of a predominantly obsolete profession – that of seer. Using a wide range of sources from the period of Classical Greece, Mr. Flower weaves a remarkably complete tapestry of the career of those who told the future. There are, as one might suppose, a number of Greek terms throughout the book but the author keeps them clear for the reader.
The details of the craft of the seer, the expectations of potential clients, and the societal climate in which the seer sought employment are all provided in a chiefly coherent manner. A later chapter describes the seer’s role in warfare. The author does not neglect the women who chose this profession, either.
The amount of research that went into this book is obvious and respectable. Where there is scant data, Mr. Flower is honest about speculation. He did not permit the work to wander into hypothesis without at least one historical source to serve as a foundation.
This is not a book about the seers of mythology, such as Teiresias or Melampus, although they are mentioned to make several points about seers in general. The author even takes the time to differentiate between seers and comparable professions, such as priest and magician. After reading The Seer in Ancient Greece, it is easy to imagine how they must have lived and conducted their business. A list of fees and charges is not included nor are precise rituals described.
The timeline chosen the research is before the era I’ve chosen for A Song Heard in the Future. Nonetheless, it is going to prove to be a strong resource for the novel.
After Bulfinch’s Mythology and Mythology by Edith Hamilton, there have been four stand out books while researching my novel about Teiresias.
- The Seer in Ancient Greece by Michael Attyah Flower
- Forms of Astonishment: Greek Myths of Metamorphosis by Richard Buxton
- Magic in the Ancient Greek World by Derek Collins
- Thebes in the Fifth Century: Heracles Resurgent by Nancy H. Demand
Perhaps more importantly, I have so far interviewed about a dozen good folk who have different experiences than my own regarding philosophy, religion, life and living.
For purposes of the story, I have been assuming Teiresias would have lived about 2750 to 3000 years ago. I decided that he was born two generations after Deucalion’s Deluge. Though it’s largely the same story, the date doesn’t quite match what James Ussher calculated as the time of Noah’s Flood – 4359 years ago.
Mythological stories still resonate with us for at least two reasons:
- They are reinterpreted by each generation according to the Zeitgeist and
- Regardless of how long it may have been since the Flood, the deity, and the survivors – the myths tell us that – in some important ways – no one’s life experience now is very different from that of the people who heard those tales first.
It probably won’t be long before there’s a trend analysis app that helps us anticipate aspects of the future. I predict it won’t be called Teiresias.