In praise of GeneWeb

(or, ‘Help, Help, My Family Tree Is Full Of Hawkwoods’)

So, the new book is taking place in 650 S.F., which is two hundred and eighteen years after the last two. It’s also 4911 by the calendar the rest of the universe is using, but whether that’s 4911 CE or 4911 years after what someone decided to call the founding of the Imperity I couldn’t tell you. This means I can have fun quietly reusing surnames like Abbas and Garce that you find among people who hang about with the Hawkwoods, and also that anyone born of Maker parents has a good chance of being descended from everybody in the last book.

I keep track of it all with an ancient version of GeneWeb, which does pretty much everything I need it to except register a child as ‘clone of’. The Requite database has grown over the years, from being used in place of scribbled notes to keep the Kapellan sons’ birth order straight in my head to the monster it is today. It contains over 1600 people and upwards of twenty generations stretching back, in some cases, to half a century before the Founding.

This means that when, as today, I need to look up the dates for Tzenni and Latinus’ daughter Zophia who went into the Church, I can do so with a few keyboard shortcuts rather than working it out from scratch and then worrying for the rest of the book that I might have said somewhere else that she was born in 447 rather than 449. It then lets me see that at some point in the past I was having a name-nerd moment and had given her a selection of Ridiculous Malabranca Middle Names [1], which I had totally forgotten.

It’s also very useful for calculating degrees of relationship, which is how I know that Kallisty is 0.97% Tzenni by volume [2]. I think it’s the bit that disassembles toilets.

The thing is, I suspect I’d enjoy doing this even if I wasn’t writing books that need it as a structural support. Because I am and always have been that kind of nerd. 🙂

[1] Zophia Nastasa Korioli Ligeia Malabranca. You’re welcome.
[2] I know this is not actually true because complicated random stuff to do with DNA, and more importantly, because they are fictional.

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