Just finished 73,000 words about Francesco, the young man from Assisi who overcame post traumatic stress from battles as well as a year-long imprisonment before being ransomed by his rich mercantile father.
I put a Kabbalistic Jew in prison with Francis, whose real name was Giovanni. The mystic had recently converted to Islam, becoming a Sufi preaching love and non-violence, and this holy man introduces the 21-year-old prison mate to meditation and the teachings of the Buddha via the Silk Road connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the land of Mongol.
Francis, no virgin, becomes mentor for a 17-year-old Assisi girl named Clare. She falls in love with him, but he elevates their love to a spiritual plane where they use the physical attraction to obtain the sensual love one can only find in the Divine. (Try this some time, my reluctant celibate friend, and you may find your Beloved will never leave you and always comfort you one broken heart-break after another one!)
Francis was 50 percent Italian, 40 percent French and just a little Greek .(Hey, this is a novel, remember. I’m Greek and a 2012 study using DNA tests showed the land Francis French mother was born was founded by the ancient Greeks. Twelve percent of them — the French men and woman of Provence, France — had Greek blood in ’em! Whose to say he wasn’t part Greek?)
I had lots of fun twisting . . . uh, I mean . . . using historic facts to support my story line. As a journalist I did it all the time. My motto: “Never let facts get in the way of a good story!” I wrote for the National Novel Writing Month, an international group that encourages a person to try to write a book in 30 days.
I told of a Francis who takes on several popes and tries to convert a Muslim Sultan before he finishes his journey among his “Lesser Brothers,” those who would later be called Franciscans. The love of his life, the girl Clare (still a virgin!) starts the Poor Clares, or more commonly known as the sisters of St. Clare. Both she and her Assisi brother would administer to the poor, bathe and bandage lepers, and fight like the dickens to keep their order free of politics and the corrupting influence of money. None in their order were permitted to touch money, let alone use it for exchange in the 13th century.
Now I’m off to editing this novel. I gotta find some copy-editing service to make it more acceptable. I can’t spell a whit, and my grammar is worse than, well, I was going to say that unlettered lover of animals Francis of Assisi, but he did give us some memorable writings. Who could ever forget Brother Sun and Sister Moon. (No, he did not write the Prayer of St. Francis. That was not published until 1912. Parts of it may have been plagiarized, ripping off the wonderful sayings of a Brother Giles who probably inspired the prayer as one of the companions of Francis.)
Well, wish me luck.
I’ll keep y’all posted!
Contoveros at it again.