A year ago this month, Mary Hoffman delivered her initial story treatment for Time Traveler Tours & Tales launch title, In the Footsteps of Giants. That's when our treasure hunting, Round 1, began!
I’ve written about cracking the character code of our Time Traveler Tours, and about their unique voice, as well as about finding the device that enables them to talk from the past.
But the key ingredient to any Time Traveler Tour is transporting you to a particular place and time, and not just any place and time, but one you walk through, immerse yourself in, and be a part of.
Writers of all genres focus on setting. Even if a story is the stuff of total fiction, authors will draw from what they know to paint as vivid a picture of place as possible, in words. Authors of historic fiction must know their story location intimately -- not just as it is today, but as it was then.
A successful Time Traveler Tour must fold the story into a location in a way that makes sense both logical and logistical sense.
The Ultimate Challenge
In February 2016, I was in Florence, figuring out how best to weave Mary’s story into the city as it was 486 years ago, in 1530. That's when Michelangelo went into hiding in fear for his life, unsure whether he would live or die at the hands of a trained assassin funded by the mighty Medici.
Fortunately, Florence is Mary’s home-away-from-home, and her knowledge of Michelangelo’s era is encyclopedic, so she set me off on a good start. With her story treatment in hand, I walked the city, and walked it again. I wore out a pair of shoes (luckily Camper was having a sale that week so I stocked up on more). What’s more, I wore out my hips (you’ll recall I’d had major surgery only six months before, and was still recovering).
I visited every museum and site Mary suggested…and then some. I befriended a Michelangelo scholar, Paola Angelini of Guided Florence Tours, who took me into the mind of the great sculptor as we visited each of his masterpieces. She helped me jump queues and got me past the gatekeepers into off-the-beaten-track places little known to tourists. I visited every work by Michelangelo that Florence can claim. I drank a lot of espresso. I ate a lot of pasta.
Then I started to play with Mary’s tale, rearranging a bit here, removing a bit more there; expanding on this, cutting back on that. The raw materials were so good, a great city turned into my sandbox; Mary’s storyline became my magic wand.
This is why I love what I do. It’s not without effort, but what a pleasure to become so intimate with a place, story, and character. You have to in order to somehow inhabit their time and voice. You have to steep yourself in their place. Mary had already done so, and now it was my turn.
From the conclusion of the Kickstarter campaign in June 2015, and throughout my convalescence, I read everything I could get my hands on about Michelangelo, The Medici, and David. Most of my references were recommended by Mary, so I jumped right in, building on the knowledge she had developed over years.
In April, the two of us were back in Florence, walking to story tour together in the company of Kickstarter backers (and, as our great luck would have it, tech developers), Jo and Luke Chilone. Not only were we there to verify that the story and tour did indeed weave together logically and logistically, but even more fun, we were now digging deeper into Renaissance Florence to look for the historical artifacts and trivia challenges that would enliven our tour all the more.
Now as we find ourselves hurtling toward the holidays and the start of a new year once again, we’re thrilled to be mere weeks away from sharing the story tour of In the Footsteps of Giants with you. We’ve also developed the eBook; we’re working on the audio book; and the print book, too, is in forward motion.
Our first full title suite is soon to be born.
And it's all thanks to You!
We couldn’t have done it without you all. We are grateful for your support; for the time you take to read these missives; for your on-going comments and encouragements; for being at our backs as we moved through this effort, from fundraising to creative collaboration to production.