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Posts Tagged ‘historical fiction. great flood’

How do you write historical fiction about an era for which historical documents are brief and fragmentary?

This was one of the problems I faced when I decided to write a series of Biblical fiction novels set in the ancient world before the global flood described in the book of Genesis. Most of what the Bible writers say about the world of that time is contained in chapters one through eight of Genesis. The writer of Genesis includes some information about what the world of that time was like – for example, increasing violence and the influence of a population of beings called “Nephilim,” who possibly were giants (see “Nephilim: Good Guys, Bad Guys? Humans, Something Else?“). But for a writer trying to tell a story about people living during that time, I didn’t have much to go on.

The solution: I made stuff up.

A lot of stuff. To really build an engaging story, I decided, this series would have to receive the same kind of world-building treatment as a work of fantasy or science fiction. It’s worth mentioning that, to many people, the book of Genesis is nothing but a collection of ancient myths anyway – that is, it’s already fantasy. For my purposes in this writing project, it doesn’t much matter whether the Bible is true or not. This is fiction. I’m trying to tell a story. That’s my main objective. Either way, the job is pretty much the same.

I’m by no means the first writer to set a work of fiction in the pre-Flood world. I’ve started referring to this kind of fiction as “Deluge fiction,” a sub-category of Biblical fiction. One of the best-known writers to contribute to this category was Madeleine L’Engle, with her 1986 novel Many Waters. It’s notable that L’Engle was a fantasy writer and thus applied her professional world-building skills to spin out an intriguing pre-Flood earth and human society, along with some of the fantastical creatures you might expect in a work of fantasy.

Some lesser-known writers have created Deluge fiction as well, such as Vaughn Heppner (People of the Ark), Rachel S. Neal (Generations of Noah), William Guy (The Last Nephilim), Brian Godawa (Noah Primeval), and Shlomo DuNour (Adiel). Also notable is the graphic novel Noah, by Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel, later made into a movie starring Russell Crowe.

Some of these stories I liked and some I didn’t, but I used all of them as inspiration to a greater or lesser degree in developing the series I’m calling The Cursed Ground. I decided that The Cursed Ground would be a multi-novel series, at least a trilogy, based around this concept:

In the doomed world before the Biblical Deluge, heroes struggle against the mushrooming violence around them.

Book cover for Children of the KeepterEach novel would require its own premise, but this concept was my starting point. In one essential characteristic, I wanted this Deluge fiction series to be different from all the others I read: The main characters would be wholly fictional. In the other novels, the writer fictionalizes the lives of Noah and his family. In The Cursed Ground, Noah and other people named in the Bible do appear, but they are minor characters. What I’m interested in is the portrayal of more-or-less “normal” people who are compelled to take on extraordinary tasks due to the increasingly horrific conditions around them.

ARK — 2 February 2018

 

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