The Origin of Miriam bat Isaac
People often ask me how I came to create my protagonist, Miriam bat Isaac. The short answer is a book fell on my toe.
I was taking a course on Concepts in Chemistry with no idea for a paper about a significant early concept. In desperation, I wandered through the library stacks, hoping an idea would strike me. And something did. The book that fell on my toe opened to a page about Maria Hebrea, I was in shock! How is it that as a chemistry student, I’d never heard of such a famous woman?
The answer was that as an alchemist, very little would be known about her. In fact, all alchemists wrote under a pseudonym to shield themselves from persecution.
And so, the bad news was that I’d have trouble finding information about her for my paper. But the good news was that with so little known, I was free to invent a life for her. So, I gave her a name, a twin brother intent on becoming a gladiator, a servant who had an ear for gossip, a worldly potbellied dwarf who knew every sleazy waterfront inn, and a handsome jeweler who would introduce her to the League of Alchemists and a lot more.