Saturday, February 11, 2017

Taylor, Gospels

NEW NOVEL: Nottingham novelist crafts 19th century bible hunting tale that is 'Indiana Jones meets Jules Verne.' Bible-hunting, rogues and Egypt combine to create Nottingham writer Stephen Taylor's fascinating novel, Gospels. Amy Wilcockson spoke to him to find out more (Nottingham Post).
Can you tell us a little bit about your novel?
It's a novel about change and redemption, using the genre of the American road movie, but placed into 1830's Egypt. The rogue John Campbell-John had fled England because his debts caught up with him. In Venice, he meets a man on an honourable quest who wants to travel in Egypt to find the earliest copies of the Bible. So the two travel together down the Nile. Egypt was a predominantly Christian country from the fourth to seventh century, which is something I didn't know until I researched. The monastic movement started in Egypt, and some monasteries actually still exist in the Egyptian deserts. Their libraries contain manuscripts dating as far back as the first century, and it is these my characters want to discover.

Good concept. Could be entertaining. It caught my eye mainly because it is inspired to some degree by the real nineteenth-century explorer Robert Curzon, on whom more here and here and links.
What sort of research did you have to do?
I have to say, as a historical novelist I don't do the primary research. I'm not a history professor so I piggyback on the academics, and use contemporary accounts. One of the early Bible hunters was a guy called Robert Curzon, later 14th Baron Zouche, and he travelled extensively in Egypt looking for the gospels. He wrote a book called Visits to Monasteries in the Levant (Levant being the English word for the Middle East). Not only did this book tell me what he did, what he found and where he travelled, but it also contains a description of the people he met in Egypt at that time. It gives me a snapshot into his world, and it heavily influenced my work. That was my Bible!
"Levant" is a term for the Eastern Mediterranean region, especially Syria-Palestine, and so it only partially overlaps with the Middle East.

Follow the main link above for a description of the novel. The reference to the King James Bible is not promising.