WHY NOT DIP INTO OUR OBELISK SEVEN BLOG – IT HAS MORE STUFF YOU MIGHT LIKE!
The stiletto done it
Two things on our tour of lovely Venice convinced us that somehow or other we had to include Venice in our planned novel.
The first was a story by our fantastic Trafalgar Tours guide (a Dutch former lawyer turned artist and tour guide) about the lengths the ancient state of Venice had gone to to protect the secrets of how to make the purest glass in the world.
The glassmakers were given status, installed on the island of Murano, and given one strict rule: Never leave Venice. Or else ...
Or else what?
Simply this: if you were a glassmaker and you left Venice, the state would send assassins after you to hunt you down and kill you by sliding a stiletto into your heart.
A palace at night ...
The second trigger was a glimpse of a wonderful castle next to a canal, mysteriously gloomy from inside our gondola as we glided through the softly lapping waters.
That did it. A stiletto and a shrouded castle – we just had to include the city in our novel.
The Guardians in Venice
We found a way to do that. We needed tension, we needed villains, we needed threats, we needed violence.
And we needed a base for a powerful, dedicated group that watched as Kate, Gliffy and Nick wandered around the cities of Europe checking the ancient obelisks. We based the group on an ancient Venetian family, the Cornaros, which had been so influential in Venetian political and economic life for centuries. Venice had been the gateway between the east and the west for centuries, and this gave us a link from our modern global warming times to the ancient times of the pharaohs of Egypt.
And we located the Guardians in a castle like the wonderful Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, with its external spiral staircase.
The men of the night
Another link was needed by our plotline to connect the past to the present and bring our novel to its climax, and we found it in the form of a rare type of rock used in centuries past to make the pure Venetian glass.
And in the advice given to Kate and to Lorenzo by the L'omo de note - the Men of the Night - the chemists who make the glass. From Obelisk Seven:
He thrust his hand into his jacket pocket and his gaze dropped to another gondola floating underneath them. "Angelo told me that in the old days, for about five hundred years from 1300 onwards, the glassmakers in Venice used silica from stones taken from the Ticino River, called cogoli. Each pebble would be checked to make sure it was almost colorless, and struck with steel to see if it sparked."
He kept his eyes on the slow swell of the water, as if it held an answer for him. "If it did, it was selected."
She seemed unaware that he had stopped talking. Her troubled eyes were fixed on the slow movement of the water below.
"Then they heated the pebbles up until they glowed from the fire, and threw them into cold water, so that any impurities would be leached out before they ground them into a fine dust. It made a very pure silica, so that the glass was very pure. Today, they use silica sand from other sources."
He absentmindedly returned a wave from a passenger in the gondola as it passed beneath the bridge.
Throw in the fascinating masks worn during Carnivals, a meeting between the pillars of St. Mark's Square, a well which allows entrance through an underground passage into the forbidding Doges palace, and a deadly chase through the dark canals of wonderful Venice, and we had something rare for Obelisk Seven.
To read about the spy apparatus of medieval Venice in our blog post, click here.
To read our blog post on the role played by the artist Edward A. Goodall, whose paintings of Venice are shown below, click here.
Type of well that plays a role in the climax of Obelisk Seven
The Palace with the spiral staircase used for the climax of Obelisk Seven
Mummy of Thutmose III unwrapped by Emile Brugsch in 1882
Part of the base of the Navona obelisk in Rome
Works on Venice by Edward A. Goodall