The story behind The Olympian: A Tale of Ancient Hellas has been floating around my head since I was a kid and saw Rudolph Mate’s 1962 film “The 300 Spartans.” Thirty-six years later, a friend tossed Steven Pressfield’s book Gates of Fire on my desk and said, I think you would enjoy this.” My friend was correct. A few years later, I was getting serious about writing a book. I wanted to write about the real worth of a human being … what gives a person’s life value. The Spartan stand at Thermopylae was how I envisioned telling the story. Then I read an article about an ancient Olympic boxer, Theagenes of Thasos who won the boxing competition at the 75th Olympiad in 480 B.C. By pulling the two events together — the Olympic Games and the Battle of Thermopylae — I developed the story I wanted to tell to present my core concept: the worth of a man is determined not by what he does for himself, rather by what he does for others.
In 2002, my son Brad and I had dinner with Steven Pressfield at a small Italian restaurant in Malibu. I ran the idea by him. He liked it and encouraged me to go for it. Six years later, the book was in print and the film rights optioned.
This page will offer a series of posts that describe my way of taking an idea from start to finish, from a thought to a book. I am not a Steven Pressfield, a Mark Helprin, a Charles Frazier, a Leif Enger or Ron McLarty. One can only wish! … Still, I receive emails and other inquiries about how I go about my writing business. It occurs to me that for every person who asks a question, there are many, many more who have similar questions but won’t ask for one reason or another. This page is for those who want to ask but don’t. If you glean anything of value from these posts and comments, then I’m glad I shared these thoughts with you.
I can’t remember ‘not reading,’ though my passion for books was inspired by my 8th grade English teacher, Norman Najimy. Mr. Najimy taught me to love the written word. I’ve always wanted to write ‘books of substance,’ but I never had the courage to follow that passion until the turn of the millennium.
I wrote my first, full manuscript – by hand – in 1976 as I sat in ‘the crow’s nest’ at Loring AFB in Presque Isle, Maine pulling alert duty in my F-106 Delta Dart. The name of the manuscript was The Messiah. I’ve done nothing with it and I know I’ve seen it sitting in its cardboard box somewhere in this house. Some three years later in 1979, I wrote my second full manuscript – this one on a typewriter with carbon paper. I’ll not reveal its name just yet because I have it ready to submit, but I’m not certain yet that I will do it.
Finally, in 2002, I committed myself to becoming and author. I was 53-years old. Three years earlier, I had befriended best-selling author Steven Pressfield. At a small Italian restaurant in Malibu in the early summer of 2002, I ran an idea by him. His advice: go for it. The result was my first published novel, The Olympian: A Tale of Ancient Hellas.