The Last: Prologue

“The Last” reveals the reflections of Emperor Constantine XI during the final surge of Ottoman soldiers against the walls of Constantinople on May 29th, 1453.

I started to take serious my desire to become a writer in December of 2011. I had certainly tried my hand at significant writing before that – as early as 2001. However, life offered me plenty of distractions in the decade between those years, preventing the accomplishment of any noteworthy work. Even once I knew that writing was my passion, time remained in very limited supply. Between my career as an educator, coaching girls’ and boys’ basketball, and the handful of other jobs that I worked during the holidays and summer, I found that I struggled to consistently allow time for writing.

Between 2011 and 2014, I did complete a handful of short stories and novellas. Despite the feeling of accomplishment, I struggled to find time to return to those works for the purposes of editing and improvement. Quite honestly, there just wasn’t enough time in the day to write regularly during those years. My dreams waited.

Constantinople Map.jpg
This is possibly the oldest surviving map of Constantinople. Created by Florentine cartographer Cristoforo Buondelmonti in 1422, the map shows the city as a shadow of its former glory.

That changed on June 9th, 2014. On that day, I began work on what I consider my best piece of writing to date. Less than a month later, I had completed the first draft of The Last. Writing this particular novella, a historical fiction piece, was a true labor of love. I thoroughly enjoyed telling the story of the Emperor Constantine XI and his valiant defense of the vestiges of the Roman Empire in the 15th century. My research for The Last spurred a great appreciation for Byzantine History. A quick glance at my bookcase will suggest that my fondness for this topic has only increased in the time since I first started writing on a warm June day over two years ago.

The Last is set on May 29, 1453 – the final day of the Roman Empire. This alone may come as a surprise to those recalling that the Roman Empire collapsed in the 5th century. The Last concerns the eastern region of the empire around Constantinople, which survived the fall of Rome and the western provinces by nearly a millennia. Those living in this surviving portion of the Roman Empire considered themselves Roman and the inheritors of all that Rome had represented and accomplished. These Medieval Romans must defend their identify and culture from the invading Ottomans or be lost to history. 

Author: joshuajscully

That’s my picture up there. I’m not totally sure why I look so angry. I may be thinking about how much I hated the Crypt Keeper as a child. I grew up faithfully watching reruns of The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt. Unfortunately, I missed the boat in terms of writing for either of those programs. I do consider both to have been wildly influential when I think back to my earliest thoughts about becoming an author and I’m grateful my parents let me watch those shows as a kid (although there were probably some nights early in my childhood my mother wished she hadn’t let me watch those shows). If you’re familiar with either program, then you know what genres are my focus. I thoroughly enjoy science fiction, suspense, the twist ending, and some horror or supernatural elements as well. Honestly, when I was a kid the Crypt Keeper scared the hell out of me. As an adult, I’ve really learned to embrace the puns. Historical fiction is a favorite of mine as well, and the root of that is shared with my profession. I am an educator by trade, and I teach American History. I consider some of the best writing I’ve ever done to be within the realm of historical fiction and I really enjoy saturating my mind in the research end of those projects. I would make the argument that storytelling is in my blood. Even my sister mulled, very briefly (about 45 minutes), launching a career as a screenwriter! My last name is one of those Irish (and, apparently, formally Manx) ones with a wonderfully researched history -“the story-teller’s descendant”. On of the first day of school each year, I do share that “my name is Mr. Scully, and that rhymes with Kelly”, just so I do not hear the myriad of mispronunciations on the first day. Several years ago, I started a blog similar to this one to highlight my middle years as a teacher. If that aspect of my life is of any interest to you at all, you can still find that blog online. During my summers, I really have time to pursue my writing projects and this blog will highlight some of that work. My first attempts to sit down and write extensively occurred when I was 15, but only a few years ago did I make setting time aside to write a priority. I’ve also benefited wildly over the years from many willing readers among my family and friends. The direction and feedback from those individuals has been invaluable. Outside the world of the written word, I am an educator, basketball coach, lecturer, and (very, very occasionally) a landscaper. I have only ever known Western Pennsylvania as my home. Although I love a good novel, I am absolutely unable to resist the power of the short story. The latter is really what I hope to be remembered for one day.

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