Guest Post: World-building by David Blixt

Author Bio: Author and playwright David Blixt's work is consistently described as "intricate," "taut," and "breathtaking." A writer of Historical Fiction, his novels span the early Roman Empire (the COLOSSUS series, his play EVE OF IDES) to early Renaissance Italy (the STAR-CROSS'D series, including THE MASTER OF VERONA, VOICE OF THE FALCONER, and FORTUNE'S FOOL) up through the Elizabethan era (his delightful espionage comedy HER MAJESTY'S WILL, starring Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe as inept spies). His novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history. As the Historical Novel Society said, "Be prepared to burn the midnight oil. It's well worth it."

Living in Chicago with his wife and two children, David describes himself as "actor, author, father, husband. In reverse order."

For more about David and his novels, visit

Guest Post: I want to write a vampire story.

No, I know. This is supposed to be where I promote the books I already have out there, and I’ll surely get to that. But this page is about love of literature – and vampires. And so far in my career, I haven’t published anything about vampires. But I want to. Oh, how I want to.

I have an idea, you see. Yes, it’s been done. But done wrong. All wrong. Not wanting to compound that mistake, I’ll wait until I have it just right. Meanwhile, like a vampire, I’ll hold my secrets close until I’m ready to strike. But there are a few details I can drop.

See, the great thing about writing vampires, to me, is making up the rules. Are these Dracula vampires? Buffy vampires? Anne Rice vampires? Blade vampires? Sparkly Twilight vampires? Do crosses affect them? Or do you have to believe in the religion for them to work? Can they turn into mist, or bats, or wolves? Do they sleep in coffins, or is that passé? So many decisions to make! That’s part of the joy of writing an unknown world.

I have a dear friend who has been trying to convince me for the last two years to go to Sci-Fi/Fantasy conventions and set up a table for my novels.

“But Scott” – his name is Scott – “I write Historical Fiction.”

“Same thing, David. It’s all about world-building.”

He’s right. In any novel not set in the near-present, the author is plunging the reader into an unfamiliar landscape. The trick with Historical Fiction is, whenever you’re stuck, you can hit the research. Oh, the expression ‘at death’s door’ was literal, because they had doors in Italian houses that only the dead could pass through? Cool. That’s good for a scene. Oh, in ancient Rome they believed they had legal, binding contracts with the gods, and if something went wrong, they had violated the terms of the contract? Neat. I can use that.

Back to the vampires. Research helps here, too. Because why do I have to make up one set of rules when the world has already done it for me? Greek vampires bloat and sag with the blood they drink, leaking it out of their orifices or through their hairy palms. Chinese vampires don’t drink blood at all, but rather drink brains (can you imagine how indignant Chinese vampires get when they’re compared to zombies?). Each culture has their own vampire myth, and rather than choose, I want to use them all.

That’s not the core of my story. That’s just a piece of the fun of world-building going on in my head as I hone and prune the plot until it’s ripe.

While we wait, I’ll do the obligatory brief plug for the books already in the world – books I’m proud of, passionate about, and want to share. They just lack vampires – though there’s no lack of blood.

Starting in order of history, there’s the Colossus series, exploring the fall of Jerusalem, the building of the Colosseum, and the rise of a small Hebrew sect in the midst of the Roman world. The first book is COLOSSUS: STONE & STEEL.

Then there’s the Star-Cross’d series, plunging into life during the age of Dante to reveal the origin of the Capulet-Montague feud and explore the life of Shakespeare’s Mercutio. Those books are THE MASTER OF VERONA, VOICE OF THE FALCONER, and FORTUNE’S FOOL.

Finally there’s my romp, my delicious, silly spy-novel starring young Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe as hapless agents for Her Majesty, the Queen. While different in tone and intent, it was just as joyful for me to create the underworld of Tudor England as it was the warfare of Cangrande della Scala or the court of the Emperor Nero. This novel is entitled HER MAJESTY’S WILL.

Meanwhile, watch for something vampiric from me a couple years down the road. I have the story, I have the characters, I have the outline. I just don’t have the time.

Because first I have to write a book about Hell. Now that is some world-building.


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