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Monday, October 16, 2023

Choose 'real life' for your heroes

"Literature throws us many great heroes.  Real life invariably outdoes them."  -- Wilbur Smith
Do you know what Smith's novel The Seventh Scroll has in common with novels like A Thief Of Time by Tony Hillerman, The Source by James Michener, The Dig by John Preston, and The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb by Agatha Christie?  All are novels about archaeology and October is the month for celebrating International Archaeology Day.  I say October because the "day" moves around each year, although it's usually during the third week (this year on the 21st).

While there are hundreds of factual, nonfiction books about archaeology, there also are a surprising number of novels about the genre, including many that are listed as “Archaeological thrillers!"   
And those in the know rank Smith's The Seventh Scroll as the number one archaeological “thriller” of all time.  It got a score of 993 (out of 1000) from a panel of voters from around the world.   Smith, a South African writer (born in 1933 and died in 2021) studied archaeology and then wrote a series of adventure/thriller novels about a husband-and-wife archaeological team exploring Egyptian tombs (where they find the aforementioned scroll and have a series of breathtaking experiences).

There’s an old adage that each writer should “Write What He or She Knows Best,” whether it be archaeology, education, sports or history. 
"Write for yourself, not for a perceived audience," Smith advised.  "And you have to read. That's how you learn what is good writing and what is bad.  Then the main thing is application.  It's hard work."

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