Attila the Hun – evil or inspirational?

It doesn’t take much for me to get sucked into the wormhole of research.

Recently, at a meeting, a speaker suggested that writers need to set a timer when they are researching to stay on task. The idea that allowing oneself to “over research” was a cause for slowed progress in finishing a manuscript.

While I couldn’t agree more, it’s just so fun! I’m a research junkie. It stems from my love of learning and a constant desire to dig deeper into any given topic. Do I over analyze? Absolutely! I can’t help myself, but I know I’m not alone. See if you can relate to this article from Buzzfeed (how are pugs so expressive?).

I needed to find some personality traits for a good villain not too long ago. Being that I was working on ideas for a new series (hint, hint) set in a pseudo-300-400A.D. time frame, I thought of Attila the Hun. That led me to article after article then to one of my favorite sources: YouTube. By the time I was finished (for that day), I had re-imagined an aspect of my entire series. And it is awesome! Some parts of the storyline that I hadn’t quite managed to fit into the right shape fell into place. I can’t wait to share with you more about this new series in the next few months.

medieval woman with finger to her lips

In case it’s been a while since you’ve studied ancient history, (haha) the Huns were a people living on the Asian Stepps. A horse culture, they lived a nomadic lifestyle following their herds and living off the land. Then, for some reason debated among scholars, they left the Stepps. They battled the Ostrogoths until near extinction and pushed against the Eastern edge of the Roman Empire, eventually creating havoc all the way into France.

Attila the Hun rose to power after their initial infiltration and had a lust for battle. He annihilated entire cities, killing every living human and beast to instill fear in those he would face in the future. I won’t go into it here, but he utilized brutal, inhumane tactics to win. In short, he deserves every bit of his villainous reputation.

Attila the hun shooting arrow from horseback

Besides being a little disgusted and traumatized by studying his brutality, I was also curious as to what would make a person that evil. I started asking myself “what if” questions, and that’s when it happened — the lightbulb moment when the piece I needed for my story illuminated.

If I hadn’t taken enough time studying, I might not have made it to that point. That’s a valuable use of a few hours, *ahem* days . . . right?