Last weekend I had a really great talk with my sister about my Themistocles novel. Talking with her, I learned something was missing from my novel: motivation. No, really. What drove Themistocles to do what he did and be willing to gamble everything on it? What made him decide to spend money on a navy instead of spreading the wealth among the citizens of Athens? What made him decide to risk staying at Salamis instead of retreating to Corinth when the Persians were invading Greece?
I tried to explain that in my novel Themistocles learns about naval tactics by talking with merchants, sailors and rowers. Even though he's a hoplite he has a curiosity about the ocean. My sister shook her head. "No, no, no! He must have learned it through experience. Something happened. Something that drove him to build a navy and command it!"
Which I now realize is exactly right. Themistocles' convictions about naval tactics were SO strong in 480 BCE he MUST have experienced them first hand. And so I decided to think carefully about what could have convinced Themistocles to gamble everything on the sea. What experience did he have before the battles of Artemisium and Salamis?
I think I have an idea...