Thursday, October 29, 2009
Antibiotic Wishes and Codeine Dreams ...
What's the most exotic way I've ever killed off a character?
Well, possibly a combination of yew berry poisoning and stabbing ... or maybe aconite (Deadly Nightshade) poisoning combined with drowning. The combo methods are generally a result of the imprecise nature of poisons in the Roman world--both of those methods of disposal are found in NOX DORMIENDA and CURSED (formerly known as MALEDICTUS), respectively.
Poison in the Roman world was a very common tool, especially among imperial women, if the historians are to be believed. And since any Roman historian needs to be taken with a proverbial grain or even ceramic dish of salt, the link between women of any class and poison is probably more of a cultural paranoia than an actual historical fact--that old saw about poison being the women's weapon runs back at least a couple of thousand years.
I personally think it says more about Roman historians and the dominant culture than it does about women or their weapons of choice, but still ... the idea of the foxglove leaves "accidentally" introduced into the salad by the person nominally in charge of the culinary domain is intriguing, no?
You might even say the Romans had poison on the brain. In Pliny, for example, you'll find reference to poisoned honey ... something I might use in the Arcturus Series, if it proves successful enough to continue. But me, well, when I kill a character it needs to work within the milieu and be absolutely consistent with characterization. No fancy-schmancy poisoned peacock's tongue when a simple bit of poisoned eye cream is far more logical on both counts.
Actually, as a writer (and I know this is going to ruin our reps, guys, so forgive me), I don't spend a lot of time dreaming up ways of killing off people. We like to give the impression that we do--makes us seem a lot more interesting, and makes people inclined to be nice to us--but I think most of us create a situation and characters and let things unfold from there.
In CITY OF DRAGONS, people die from gunshot wounds, one person is intentionally run down and run over by a car, and someone else is strangled. Each death matters; each victim matters. No matter what the agent is, no matter how it happens, loss is loss and it's the most Godawful thing about life, period.
With respects to Dylan Thomas, I do not go gently into that good night.
And that respect for life and death is why, I think, we as authors take a grim satisfaction in punishing the people who prey on others ...
Now, as to my blog post title? Well, I'm writing this while taking codeine cough syrup for a bad bout of something that has me out for the count for the week. And I'm on super-antibiotics, too. So right now, I'm wondering about the toxicity of drugs I'm taking ... ah, the writer's life for me! :)
Take care, everybody--and stay healthy!!