Stephanus -- The sequel to Optimus: Praetorian Guard. I have Optimus's eldest son as a freedman in the palace with Domitian, his other son Sextus on the German frontier. Optimus is exiled to Patmos where the Apostle John is exiled.
I've done a good job with the palace intrigue setting up Stephanus to assasinate Domitian. Sextus fighting in Moesia and Dacia leading to the Praetorians turning against Domitian after he negotiates a weak treaty with Dacia.
I've bogged down with Optimus as he acting as a scribe to the aged John while he writes his Gospel, three epistles and Revelaton. In twelve years since the novel Optimus I've researched Revelation putting the apocalypse in context with the first century Christians.
My problem is trying to make the writing of John interesting and not dry or boring. Spacing out between Rome and Germania helps some, but it's been a long process. I think I've got a reasonable explaination of Revelation for the time period, now its butt in seat time.
Matthew Fontaine Maury: My wife's maiden name is Maury. Her father has a family tree book and it is full of articles on Matthew Fontaine Maury.
MFM is known as the pathfinder of the seas. I had never heard of him, but he is the father of oceanography, meteorology and the inventor of naval mine warfare.
There have been two naval vessels named the USS Maury, both were research vessels mapping the floor of the oceans.
I found a biography and read it. His life is absolutely fascinating, but there are a number of biographies, one by his daughter. I thought I would try my hand at fictional history. Historical fiction is like Optimus. Not a real person, but he carries the story in the time and setting with historical people around him. Fictional history is where every character in the book is historical and everything in the story actually happened.
Here are a few of the facts about MFM:
- His grandfather was the Rev. James Maury. James Maury was the tutor to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Both of whom were living with him when MFM's father was born and were witnesses. My wife's ancestor was the second son of James while MFM's was the youngest son.
- As a midshipman in the Navy MFM was onboard the ship that took the Marquis de Lafayette back to France after his tour of America twenty years after the revolutionary war. The ship went on to be the first US warship to circumnavigate the globe.
- He injured his leg in a stage coach accident and was unable to return to active sea duty.
- He was assigned to take over the newly built Naval Observatory in Washington DC. (Now the residence of the Vice President.)
- He organized all the captains logs naval and merchant aquired over the previous years. With two assistants he compiled and tracked the flow of the oceans. This revealed and he charted the Gulf Stream. Creating new charts and distributing them in 1848 to all sea captains this cut the time for sailing from the Atlantic to the Pacific by six months just in time for the gold rush in 1849.
- He oversaw the first sounding across the Atlantic and laid the first transatlantic telegraph cable to England. The first telegraph message was addressed to him congratulating him for the accomplishment.
- He took part in the first meeting of scientists to chart and graph weather.
- He wrote the Naval Academy textbook on oceanography used until 1927.
- He sided with the confederacy in the Civil War, which is why history is a little silent on him.
- He developed the first naval torpedo as it was called at the time. They were used to mine the rivers and ports of the South keeping the Union from taking Richmond by ship. The famous saying of Admiral Farragut when taking Mobile bay was, "Damn the torpedoes full steam ahead.
- He's buried between James Madison and James Monroe.
There are many more things that he accomplished. It's a daunting task to try and fictionalize his life.