Updated: Sep 8, 2020
World concept proposed in the Avesta, the primary source of documents about Zoroastrianism (Wikimedia Commons)
Yeah, so after announcing that all my books take months if not years of preparation, and after having decided for myself that I have far too many unpublished manuscripts and need to focus primarily if not exclusively on getting these done and printed, last Friday I wrote down a few notes to outline a plot, and today (Wednesday following), I have almost 20K words and the first part of a new novel written! To be fair, however, I do think this one has been gestating for a while now. I have thought for a number of years that I'd maybe like to do a mystery story, but as I never want to follow the beaten path, I have been hesitating to find a subject which might appeal. Another sub-genre I have long been interested in is the Illuminati-type story. Think Eco's Foucault's Pendulum, or Neville's The Eight, or even Brown's The Da Vinci Code. And a sub-genre of science fiction that I have also been skirting the edges of is the time travel book. I mean, I loved Asimov's The End of Eternity, and I think alternative history books are interesting, like Dick's The Man in the High Castle.
The book that is coming into being is a mix of these different things. A police procedural in part, an Illuminati-type thriller, and a book about manipulating time. Geez! A science fiction-history-mystery-thriller. Part One is almost finished - a few chapters to go to bring it to a close. Part Two, however, will take time because it will need a lot of background research. It's the Illuminati part. Not really Illuminati in the classic sense, but a secret organization of evil operatives who use an alien technology to manipulate time for their own nefarious ends.
As one often does in the fire of writing, I pencilled in a start date for the organization, about 1000 A.D. with vague notions of something to do with the middle east. I half remembered that Khayyam was alive sometime in the 1000s to 1400s, but couldn't remember when. Turns out, Khayyam was alive in the 11th century. I also had in mind a sect, and hunted around to find one. Well, the Zoroastrians suited the story arc admirably. In Persia during the 11th century they were in decline but still played an active role in the culture - Khayyam's father was Zoroastrian. I have been thinking for a while that I need to look into Zoroastrianism - it is a religion that influenced most of the other major religions and during the 5th to 7th centuries, roughly, it was the predominant religion in Persia, before Islam took hold. Finding out more about Zoroastrianism actually helps me further fill out my understanding of the various world religions and their interrelationships.
Interestingly, Zoroastrianism is related to issues of time - well, rather, of Time. There were several variants of Zoroastrianism, and one of these, sometimes called the Zurvan heresy, viewed Time as the Supreme principle from which all other phenomena are derived. Furthermore, they developed a dual concept of Time, universal time and historic time. Historic time was divided into periods, whereas universal time was undivided. Since my story is also about the manipulation of time, the Zoroastrian historical context of 11th century Persia provides a perfect origin story.
My story requires also a geographical exploration as well as an historical one, before getting into the final section where all these elements will come together in a climactic final (!) Well, that is the principle of the thing, it may take me a while to get there! What was I thinking?