A Faithful Heart

A homegrown elf?

Yes, a homegrown, real-life elf with a tiny hat and a beard, an elf who talked and ate and, I assumed, pooped too.

This story happened a long time ago in my native Romania, when I was no older than fourth grade. It happened soon after a dusty patch in our schoolyard got covered in gravel. Rocks of all shapes, all colors, all textures, all sizes. One morning, a girl in my class had exciting news for the rest of us. (I don’t remember which girl, so I’ll use the name Dana so no one feels singled out.) That morning, Dana revealed to us that our school’s gravel patch was not full of rocks but of elf-eggs. Continue reading

The Pursuit of Happiness

Years ago, while studying for my US citizenship exam, I paused over the words “the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. Because I grew up in Europe during the time of popular uprisings against communist regimes, I was used to words such as freedom and justice and equality in revolutionary speech, so the pursuit of happiness sounded like it didn’t belong in a declaration of independence from tyranny and oppression.

The Declaration of Independence (1776) - Wikipedia

The Declaration of Independence (1776) – Wikipedia

It wasn’t the first time I wondered how had those Founding Fathers been so enlightened to consider the mental health of their people at a time of war and disease and superstition. Today we have counselors and self-help and wellness support groups, but they didn’t, back in 1776, yet Jefferson thought it was important to put those fine words in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. Continue reading

Yes, but What Did They Sound Like?

When my friend Cristina speaks, I listen. Cristina is both a scientist and an artist, and throughout the years she guided me in learning about the world of science and the world of art. Years ago, she explained to me how the Inca irrigated their terraces in Machu Picchu and Tipon, and later she exposed me to the forgotten artisanal Romanian culture. A few months ago she told me about her experience in Greece, where she stood inside the ruins of Mycene (second millennium BCE) and felt the air and the ground vibrate with sound. Cristina knew she was experiencing pressure waves vibrating in the air around her and inside her body, but still, the experience was eerie.

Continue reading

Fact or Fiction? Part 3 (Dan Brown)

Bringing fiction to life with Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code

Something marvelous happened in 2003: the plot of a 15-year old novel became reality.

In 1988, Umberto Eco published Foucault’s Pendulum, in which three bored editors at a Milan publishing house—Jacopo Belbo, Casaubon, and Diotallevi—come up with the idea of a global conspiracy that would allow the descendants of the Knights Templar to take over the world at the end of the millennium. Continue reading

Fact or Fiction? Part 2 (Umberto Eco)

Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum and the rewriting of history

 

Foucault’s Pendulum at the Musée des Arts et Métiers (Paris)

Foucault’s Pendulum at the Musée des Arts et Métiers (Paris)

Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco is one of my favorite novels. I read it first in high school, in Romanian, and then spent countless hours discussing it with my desk-mate and fellow-bookworm Iuliana. I read the novel again in English during my MFA program at Goddard. I wish I knew more Italian so I could read the book in its native language. Continue reading

Author Interview: Jack Remick on Turning History into Story, Part 2

“I don’t always know where I’ve been when I write.” – Jack Remick

Blood is the story of ex-mercenary Hank Mitchell who is in prison for stealing women’s underwear. The real reason for being in jail though is because he wants out of the guerilla wars financed by his brother-in-law’s corporation and waged against indigenous Central and South Americans defending the resources of their native lands. Continue reading

No Water, No Story

I learned from Robert J. Ray and Jack Remick that a strong novel requires a contended resource base. Something that everybody wants or needs. In my Late Iron Age story, it’s water. Some have it; some had it and lost it. Everybody needs it. Without it, there’s no story. With it, come civilization and the gods who control that water. Continue reading

Constantine’s Vision (312 CE)

Does it matter if the history we know was fabricated? Pfft! Of course it matters. The past teaches us not to repeat mistakes! The past teaches us who we are, etc.! But, really—once history is old enough to become the dust we walk on, what difference does it make in our daily lives if the things we know are not the things that were? How far from the truth can we wander and not get hurt by our unawareness? And even if we want to know the truth, are there any trustworthy sources? Continue reading