By Scott Pearson
My ReDeus character, Étienne Joubert, a Templar knight returned to life in the twenty-first century, came to me even before I was invited to participate in the ReDeus anthologies. I had imagined a fourteenth-century knight who wakes up in the modern world, and I made some notes about him, but beyond that I had no idea why he was back or what would happen to him in the present day. When the Crazy 8 guys told me about the ReDeus concept, I thought, “Aha! This explains everything.”
The first anthology had a very tight schedule, so I didn’t think I had the time to write a story that dealt with how Joubert adjusted to his new circumstances. Instead, “The Tale of the Nouveau Templar” took up his story in Manhattan several years after his return, after he’s settled in, learned English, and adjusted to the bizarre modern world of gods everywhere.
When I was invited to contribute to ReDeus: Beyond Borders, however, I had a bit more time, so I decided to go back to Joubert’s origin story. After all, it had been established in the first published story that he’d returned to life in Rome, and the second anthology, as its title indicates, would feature international settings. The tricky thing was that Joubert had had reason to talk a little about his return to life in “The Tale of the Nouveau Templar,” so in going back to his return I had to keep in mind that a lot of people would be reading his origin story after hearing about it briefly in the first story published. I was faced with the challenge of making the story work whether it was read in internal chronological order or in external publishing order.
The first thing I decided was that Joubert didn’t have a reason for telling the bishop in “The Tale of the Nouveau Templar” a completely accurate story. He was telling a bit of what happened to him to make a point, so he would feel free to condense and gloss a bit. So I felt I could expand and embellish upon the synopsis in the first story to keep the readers guessing a bit. I was able to “discover” some rather large twists.
It was fun to set a story in Rome, but it required a bit of research, just as it had to set the previous story in New York. I’ve never actually been to New York, so interweb stuff like Google Street View had been helpful that first time around. I have spent time in Rome, about a week or so—about three decades ago. Again, lots of internet research led me down specific streets, sometimes into areas I could remember being myself. And fans of the classic film Roman Holiday, starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, will notice a particular scene. I couldn’t resist working in a location from the movie as a backdrop to a scene between Joubert and one of his interpreters, who also happens to be a woman he finds attractive, in a nervous, vow-of-chastity kind of way.
“A Medieval Knight in Vatican City,” therefore, is the whole, true story of Joubert’s return to life, a story of miracles and tragedies. I’m glad I got the chance to tell it.
ReDeus: Beyond Borders will be available in print and digital formats in late May.