Letter From The Editor - Issue 68 - April 2019

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The Story Behind the Stories
  IGMS Authors Share How Their Stories Came to Be
April 2019

Domus Lemurum by Donald Crankshaw

I've been fascinated by Roman society since I first took Latin in high school. I've read plenty of books about it, and I've often used a pseudo-Roman fantasy society in my stories. For this story, though, I wanted to tell a ghost story that took place in actual, historical Rome, so I needed to up my game. I won't bore you with how long I spent studying Roman locks and door hinges--if you've read the story, you're probably tired of them already.

The hardest part wasn't the physical details, though, it was the attitude. If I was going to tell a ghost story about executed slaves, I needed to make sure that my main character had an attitude toward slavery that reflected that of an ancient Roman patrician. But such an attitude would be repugnant to us modern Westerners. How could I make such a character work, to be a good guy by the terms of his society, while not avoiding how Romans actually thought? I compromised a bit, but overall I think Septimus works, not because what he believes is right, but because we can accept that he believes it. And perhaps he makes us less certain about aspects of our own society that we assume are right and normal, and that we fail to question as we should.

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