Yesterday around 10 a.m. Carboneras (Spain) time, I finally completed a novel I've been working at for years: A Gift for the Sultan. Inspired by a visit to Istanbul and other parts of Anatolia in 1997, I was intrigued by the complex interrelations between Turkic and Greek speaking peoples, especially in the years just before the great city of Constantinople succumbed to the descendants of Central Asian nomads, and tried to imagine what was going on in the minds of all parties when, in 1402, the emperor sent a mission to surrender the city to the sultan. (This according to chroniclers really happened.) And what if, as had become almost customary by this time, the surrender package included a Christian princess for the sultan's harem? Almost everything else in my novel is true; I invented the princess and the Ottoman war chief who is commissioned to deliver her along with a tribute of gold, silver and silks, and the key to the city. To reconstruct their adventures traveling eastward from Constantinople to catch up to the sultan, and the (nonfictional) campaign of the sultan as he leads his horde into the mountains to confront his foe Timur (Tamerlane), and everything that happens next after Timur wipes out the sultan and his horde, I read everything I could find about geography, history, languages, the travel speed of small horses, a variety of weapons, and religious practices . But what made it hard to complete was not the research but finding the right ending to this story -- not for the great city (which we know will survive as a Christian capital for 51 more years, and in another form and under another name down to our day), but for the princess and the Ottoman warrior. I think I finally found it, and so could finish. Now I have to focus on getting it published.
Causes Geoffrey Fox Supports
Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières