Writings You Might Enjoy

Ben Solomon in Destiny Diverted

Ben Solomon in Destiny Diverted, is an 84,000 word action adventure story about an accident of birth that prevents Abel, first-born son of King Solomon, from inheriting the Throne of David. Abel struggles to claim his perceived birthright but gets sidetracked into an ancient Bedouin desert lifestyle and a Phoenician maritime culture. After a tropical hurricane casts him ashore in the land of a fierce Jaguar civilization, he becomes involved with the two lady loves of his life.

 While the time frame for Ben Solomon is 1000 BC to 900 BC, much of the story incorporates my present day personal experiences and research. I’m a retired U.S. Air Force officer and I’ve traveled through many of the book’s locales, which I adapted for the narrative.

 Most of my published work is nonfiction, which has appeared in regional archaeological and historical publications and local area periodicals. My first published fiction is in an anthology of short stories and poems titled Collected Tales from the Rio Grande, released this year by the Rio Grande Valley Byliners through iUniverse. I am both contributor and editor for the collection. Ben Solomon is my first full-length novel.

 

 “I’ve been a writer for almost as long as I can remember…wrote ditties and unflattering parodies about my classmates who got their revenge during recess. During the following years, I wrote stories in high school, college, and later during the latter half of my Air Force career – usually speeches for generals and articles for a base newspaper. After I retired from the Air Force, I continued writing – articles for archaeology journals, historical pieces for a couple of Rio Grande Valley publications, wrote and edited news letters for various organizations to which I belonged at the time. One of my proudest achievements was winning the Cotton award in 1995 from the Texas State Historical Commission for the best County Historical Commission newsletter throughout the state.

 “I’m not obsessed with writing. Sitting down at a typewriter or keyboard and composing a piece is hard work. I have to be motivated to write and the usual motivators are either money or a deadline. One of my lifelong ambitions was to someday write a novel. I had an idea for a novel based on my belief that Old World mariners visited American shores long before Columbus. For the past twenty to thirty years, I gathered bits and pieces of information I thought would be useful in writing the novel and filed them away. One day, a few years ago, I thought about that ambition while looking in a mirror as I shaved. ‘Oh, oh! I better get on with it. I’m not getting any younger.’ And thus began Ben Solomon.

 “Many of the situations and locales in the book are based on personal experience or travel through the same Middle East and Mediterranean countries that my lead character finds himself in. He also learns the techniques of navigating a ship over open water, which I, too, learned at Harlingen Air Force Base, Texas.

 “While researching ancient navigation techniques, I came across a concept theorized by a Scotsman named Crichton E.M. Miller in his book, The Golden Thread of Time. In my opinion, he may have discovered the lost celestial navigation secrets of Phoenician mariners during King Solomon’s time. Back then, a navigator simply needed a cross-staff for sighting a star or constellation, a protractor to measure angles, a string and a plumb bob to determine one’s latitude. To compute longitude, he calculated the difference between local time and prime meridian time, whose longitude line ran through the Great Pyramid at Gizeh.                                

 “Other experts contributed to the development of Ben Solomon. For instance, Clyde A. Winters put forth a controversial theory that when the Olmecs arrived in the Americas about 1200 BC, they brought with them a system of hieroglyphic writing that originated in the Mande speaking areas of West Africa. His theory, along with the trans-Atlantic research of Ivan Van Sertima in They Came Before Columbus, provided the necessary background on which to hang the Mesoamerican phase of the adventure. I consulted with many other experts via Inter-library Loans and the Internet. They don’t know it, but I’m grateful to all of them.

 “Earlier I said that writing for me is work. I do not sit down and compose 250 words a day, or whatever. I usually write when I feel that I have the necessary information to compose a piece. Currently, I have started two sequels to Ben Solomon. I work on one at a time. When I come to a brick wall, I switch and work on the other. I’ve learned that because a lot of history is involved in my work, my brick wall is usually something for which I do not have enough background data. For instance, the first sequel takes place along the Mississippi Valley of North America. Here we encounter prehistoric sites like Poverty Point in Louisiana and Serpent’s Mound in Ohio. Archaeological and ethnological data is about the only information available as most Native Americans kept no written records or the records were destroyed. In one sense, this is good as it leaves the story open to imagination. Yet, I prefer to hang the imaginative parts of the story on a historical peg. Therefore it may be days or weeks before I start writing again based on how long it takes to complete the research.

 “Meanwhile, enjoy the book. Maybe I’ll complete the sequels…maybe not. Wish me luck.”

 Don Clifford

Harlingen, Texas