Writing and selling

I now have to confront two very different problems: selling something that's written, and writing something that's sold.

What's written is the novel, A Gift for the Sultan. (For more on that, scroll down to the entry for 1/18. I'll be reading two chapters at the Brooklyn Arts Exchange this Saturday.) I may have trouble selling it, due to (as one reader put it) "the plethora of unfamiliar proper nouns (from the archaic to the simply exotic)." The novel is set in 1402, in the waning days of the Byzantine empire, which was a long time ago and pretty far away, so I have to decide whether archaic and exotic are assets or defects in the telling. My aim was to make the story authentic, meaning as true as possible to the way these characters would have experienced the world. And their world is pretty strange to us. Submitting a couple of chapters to an audience this Saturday will be an important test.

The thing that's been sold (to W. W. Norton) is the book Latin American Architecture and Urbanism, which I'm co-writing with Susana Torre. She's made more progress than I, and deadline is looming, so I have to get cracking. Right now I'm focusing on the pre-colonial period, especially the Andean architecture of the Incas and the Meso-American of the Mexicas and Mayas. And now, to work.