I am a geek. I love documentaries. I also watch those real crimes shows. This is the kind of conversation that takes place in our house.
“Hey, Mom. Whatcha watching?”
“A dramatization of the Roman invasion of Britain.”
Can you hear my kids groaning?
Anyway… I’d already been working on a book, but I was unsatisfied with the plot, when I tuned in to a show on the Druids. Fascinating. Not much is known about the Druids because they kept no written records. Their entire tradition was passed from one generation to the next orally. So most of the historical information about them comes from the accounts of the Romans when they were conquering the British Isles. Those Romans sure knew how to keep records.
According to Roman records, the Druids engaged in barbaric rituals that shocked the conquering generals. And if you know anything about the history of the Romans, shocking its generals couldn’t be an easy task. This is the civilization that built the Colosseum and engaged in organized mass slaughter of people and exotic animals to keep the general public satisfied.
So, were the Druids really barbarians?
There’s a catch when you rely on an outside source for the majority of information about a culture. Were the Roman accounts accurate? Or did the Roman generals twist actual events to influence public opinion back home so they didn’t look like dweebs when Britain proved harder to conquer than they anticipated? New archeological discoveries around Stonehenge indicate that the Druids may indeed have engaged in some pretty nasty rituals. But somehow I doubt that the people who fed Christians to lions and cheered on the big cats as they ripped the people to shreds were truly that shocked by the Druids behavior.
But that’s an argument for historians. Thankfully, I write fiction. I get to make stuff up, but I do like to infuse reality into my plots. It took quite a bit of brainstorming to work discoveries about the ancient Druids into the plot of a contemporary romantic mystery thriller.
Midnight Exposure releases August 2012.
Where do you find your inspiration?