Into the Unbounded Night by Mitchell James Kaplan
Praise for Into the Unbounded Night“In Into the Unbounded Night, Mitchell Kaplan offers a rich rendering of war and humanity in first century Rome — of tradition and loss, and the transformative power of healing and collective memory to find one’s way home.” – Nichole Bernier, Boston Globe Bestselling author of The Unfinished Work Of Elizabeth D “Mitchell James Kaplan is the gloriously talented writer of this dramatic, intense story of conflicting emperors, slaves, priests and exiles in a first century world whose roots and traditions are increasingly torn apart by the brutal rule of Rome. Men and women search for belief and reason, out of which will emerge a new Judaism after the destruction of Jerusalem’s Temple as well as the early beginnings of Christianity. A writer of enormous scope, compassion and poetry, Kaplan has written several of the most compelling characters you will meet in the pages of a book. Into the Unbounded Night sweeps over you like a succession of huge waves. It is truly a major novel.” – Stephanie Cowell, American Book Award recipient, author of Claude And Camille: A Novel Of Monet “Kaplan’s prose is so rich and agile I felt I was breathing the air of these ancient places, and his evocation of character is no less palpable. Fully embodied and driven by ambition, grief, the clear-eyed desire for truth, and fierce maternal love, these characters plunge, march, and stumble toward their fascinating and entangled destinies.” – Marisa de los Santos, New York Times bestselling novelist of I’ll Be Your Blue Sky and award-winning poet “I’m a big fan of historical fiction when it’s as good as Mitchell Kaplan’s Into the Unbounded Night. Vividly imagined, Into the Unbounded Night pulls the reader along with beautiful prose, strong characters and a wonderfully realized story.” – Heidi W. Durrow, New York Times best-selling author of The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize “A beautiful, informative book. It was gripping throughout, the research never overwhelms the story, but is always part of it. [The] writing is lyrical and evocative of time and place. All the characters are real and interesting. Loved it!” – Martin Fletcher, National Jewish Book Award winner, author of Promised Land “From the mystical lore of Albion to the Roman siege and destruction of Jerusalem, Kaplan’s meticulous research and evocative writing meld seamlessly to create a vivid, textured, and richly imagined story.” —Beth Hoffman, New York Times and International bestselling author of Saving Ceecee Honeycutt and Looking for Me “Set in Rome and Judea after the crucifixion of Jesus, Mitchell James Kaplan’s finely crafted and intense second novel delves into the minds and hearts of truly captivating characters. An excellent read.” – Eva Stachniak, winner of the Canadian First Novel Award, author of The Chosen Maiden “Sensually provocative, verbally sharp and critically witted, Mitchell James Kaplan’s Into the Unbounded Night brings to life the tumultuous birth of Judeo-Christian monotheism in this intimately woven narrative brimming with righteous and riotous characters striving for survival and transcendence across the ravished landscapes of Judea, the Roman Empire, and Britannia.” – Jessica Maria Tuccelli, an Okra Pick winner of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance for her debut novel, Glow “Kaplan weaves an intricate literary tapestry to create a poetic exploration of early Judeo-Christian and Roman history. He builds a diverse yet connected cast of characters whose encounters inspire timeless self-examination and advance the course of history. An engrossing work not easily forgotten.” – Therese Walsh, critically acclaimed author of The Last Will Of Moira Leahy and The Moon Sisters, founder of the literary blog, Writer Unboxed
How I Write Novels
There are two ways you can write a novel. You can lead the story, or it can lead you.
What I mean is: you can plot everything in advance, or you can enter the forest of storytelling and look for the paths. In the latter scenario, you may well get lost, but you also may find some exciting places where you never expected to go. To push this metaphor just a little further (because I like doing that kind of thing), you may find a magical waterfall… and a canoe… and float down to a warm pond… where animals stare at you and whisper about you from behind the foliage…
You get the idea. For me, writing is all about discovery. Even when I start with an outline, I end up getting lost. It’s better that way.
With my novel BY FIRE, BY WATER, I wrote outlines… and outlines… and outlines. The first outline seemed solid when I conceived it, but then as I wrote the novel, the characters pulled me in different directions. So I had to rewrite the outline, again and again. Each outline turned out to be about as solid as an amoeba. The only outline that would resemble the finished book would be the outline I wrote after I typed the words “The End.”
For my new novel, INTO THE UNBOUNDED NIGHT, I had no plan. I let the characters take me where they wanted to go. And the most amazing thing happened: they had ideas about their destinies, and about the ways they would interact with each other, that I could never have guessed prior to writing the book. Thank God I didn’t try to lock them into some preconceived structure. (They would have been miserable.)
I sold my third novel, RHAPSODY (which will come out in March, 2021) based on a sample and an outline—so I did need an outline for that purpose. However, no sooner was the ink dry on the contract than I locked that outline in a file that I intended never to look at again. And I did not look at it, ever again.
Of course, if you’re writing a mystery, a thriller, a Western, or a romance, an outline might save you a lot of trouble down the road. Those genres require certain structural components that can be toyed with, but only to a limited extent.
The advantage of letting your characters take you where they want to go is that it’s as much of an adventure for the writer as for the reader. And I believe that sense of discovery translates from the writer’s experience to the reader’s experience.
But where do the characters and their story lines come from? For me it all starts with research. You read a lot about the period you will be writing about. You visit the places. And then you let it brew in your unconscious mind. That’s where all the real creativity occurs.
My “trick,” if I have one, is that I wake up early in the morning, usually about three or four. I write while the world around me is sleeping and I feel like I’m channeling the “vibe” of all the dreaming that’s happening around me. I’ve come to believe all kinds of really weird things about dreaming and writing but I won’t go into them here because I don’t want you to think I’m crazy. I do believe that for me, writing works best when it’s about tuning in and listening.
One final word: my first drafts of any given scene are often a mess. I revise and revise. I can revise any time of the day; it doesn’t have to be early morning. I love revising. Some of the most important discoveries, in fact, happen during the revision process.
Thanks for hosting me, Book Bustle!