Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Remember When . . . Nero Fiddled?

One of the most interesting aspects of my current biblical fiction is its position on the historical timeline. Not that anything particularly riveting happened in known history in the months during my story. But that's kinda the thing. Big things had happened a few years before.

And really big things were coming.

Now, we all know me. One of my greatest loves in fiction is explaining historical facts through my characters, or at least having my characters interact with that fact. In A Stray Drop of Blood, my pivot obviously focuses on the crucifixion. I wrote those scenes with my Bible always open and lots of website visits to check historical facts. And at the end of the book, when Menelaus finally makes his way to the villa, I had to toss in a few other historical references. Just for fun. I state that the expulsion of the Jews from the city of Rome was largely because of Abigail angering the emperor.

Oh yes, great fun. Except that now I'm writing the sequel, LOL. So now I have to actually deal with all those things I threw in just for fun. And I also have to look at the current emperor.


Shudder. Nero is so infamous. So known for all his evils. In fact he did a lot of good for Rome too, but no one remembers that quite so well. I had never learned before that, in the aftermath of the great fires that swept through Rome, he was out in the rubble looking for survivors, right beside the common citizens. All I knew was that old saying that "Nero fiddled while Rome burned." That some historians actually accused him of having the fire set so that he could build his new palace. We know for a fact he blamed the fire on the Christians.

But why? To blame the great fire on the Christians (this is about ten years or so after A Soft Breath of Wind will end), he must have already hated them. But, again...why?

Mwa ha ha ha. Insert Roseanna rubbing her hands together. I get to do my favorite thing. I get to explain the hatred of an emperor, of an empire, through my characters!

I toyed for a while with different ways, considering bringing Nero himself into my story in a critical role I already had planned out. But the more I thought about that, the more I decided it was too much. So I kept reading about him. And I hit on something else. One of the most important things Nero did in his early reign was oust all the old advisers and counselors, the ones loyal to his mother (whom he killed, by the way), and bring in young advisers of his own generation. Nero was young when he took the throne. In my story, he'd be in his twenties. He was handsome, with that rare golden hair you don't often associate with Romans (much like two of my characters). He had a thing for prostitutes and enjoyed a good party. He was young, with the passions of youth. With friends now serving beside him, taking on important government functions.

I can totally work with that. ;-)

I'm not going to give away exactly how, of course, LOL, but I'm really enjoying this part. I've twice now had Nero pass by on the streets, on his way to a harlot's bed. (Stray Drop readers will perk up at this section of the book, with a certain name dropped.) And one of those friends of his (a fictional one) will take on that role I already had planned out. And then, when the climax of the story comes, Nero's fury will be ignited.

And the readers will all know that this, then, is why the Christians later pay.

Oh yes. Such fun. I love writing historicals. =)


  1. Wow, I never learned about Nero looked in the rubble for people after the fire. That's interesting!

    1. I hadn't either! But he was apparently quite often so conscientious a ruler, looking out for the people way more than those that came before him.

  2. Love the details you weave in - and getting a bit of inside scoop ahead of time. Great stuff.