No doubt by now you are aware that Acre’s Orphans will be published on January 28th. Many of you are familiar with its hero, Lucca le Pou (or Lucca the Louse for those of you who don’t speak French.) He’s a popular little guy, and a number of people ask me how I came up with him.
Put simply, Lucca started as a fun
This is me standing in the old city of Jerusalem in November of 2008 on the site of the Hospital of St John… the Hospitallers for those of you who follow such things. As I stood there,
The Crusades have always held a fascination for me. I’m a sucker for knights and jousting and swords are always cooler than guns. So I tried to imagine what would make someone travel halfway around the world to fight in a war that, to my modern mind, makes no sense at all. Especially the battle of Hattin. What the hell makes someone do that? And what must it have been like for people who weren’t nobility or churchmen– the average folks? I figured there was a story there, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Acre’s Bastard originally started as the tale of a Hospitaller knight, and it wasn’t particularly inspiring, given that most of them would be slaughtered at the end.
Then this picture flashed around the world.
This picture of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh was from 2016 when Russian bombs fell on the Syrian city of Aleppo. Aleppo is about 300 miles from Acre, and was a constant scene of battle even back in the 1100s.
I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that children had been dying in wars in the region since the beginning of our history, and it just gets uglier and more vicious. That led me to think about other stories of children caught up in war. I was much more interested in the civilians than the knights and nobility. What would it be like for a child back then. If Lucca was a bit older, you know who he reminded me of???
One of my favorite stories is Kim by Rudyard Kipling. An orphan caught up in wartime, befriending soldiers and living on his wits. If you haven’t read it, you’re missing out.
And so, I imagined Lucca as old enough to not be traumatized like young Omran, and not old enough to actually have to fight, and there you have it.
Now he’s on his second adventure, Acre’s Orphans. There are still lepers, knights, spies, and swordplay. There will be tears and, yes, a lot of laughs.
Of course, if you haven’t read Acre’s Bastard yet, get on it!