Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart - the brilliant professor from Bethel University - or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.



Thursday, April 30, 2015

Research Key to Authenticity

When I first heard about John Dunn in a televised documentary about the Zulu War, I thought he would be a fascinating character to write a book about. But back then I didn't want to be the one to write that book. It was before I began writing books for one thing. And when I did start writing books, I wrote about what I knew. Martial arts and ceramics.

I knew martial arts because I had trained in Ju Jitsu when I was younger and my son was training in Ju Jitsu at the time, which gave me great access to the local dojo and the senseis and shihan there. I did some research when it came to chemicals, poisons, and the scientific elements involved with the drug in the story. One thing that helped me was my experience working in a drug company. Syntex, the maker of Toradol and Naprosyn (AKA Aleve) is located in my neck of the woods, and I worked there for a year or two, and I became familiar with the processes and procedures of drug production. I used that knowledge in my book, Killer of Killers.

The Vase is a ceramics based story, and that's what I am. A ceramicist. I don't throw pots, but I do make ceramic sculptures, and I know how to throw pots, meaning I've done it before. But I did have to do a lot of research about Nazareth, Judaism, and Islam. Plus I had to research things like Shin Bet which is the Israel Security Agency.

When I wrote Killer Eyes I researched a lot about nuclear medicine. That's how the drug in the story evolved. I learned a lot about radioactivity, radioactive half-life, background radiation, radioactive elements, radiopharmaceuticals, and even Chinese funeral practices.

But when it came to John Dunn, wow, that's where the research had to kick in full gear. That involved more research than all the books put together. I had to read no less than five or six separate books about the Zulus, the Zulu War, John Dunn, and King Cetshwayo. Not to mention all the online sites I looked up. That was a lot of reading. But I did it. I'm not calling myself an expert on the Zulus or the Zulu War, but I learned enough to write the book. It focuses on John Dunn's experiences between the years 1856 and 1879, and that's where I focused my research.

It was fun. Time consuming, but fun. And now it's ready to be published. If all else fails, I know I can get it published with one of my two current publishers. But like I said before, I want to step up from POD. That's my goal for John Dunn. We'll see how that goes.


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