Cliven Bundy American Patriot is the shocking, yet true, story as told to the author, with twists and turns, highs and lows of intrigue and common sense of the life of one man, his devoted family, and fellow patriots that seem to only be matched by the lives of the Founding Fathers of this American Experiment known as the The United States Of America. It’s a story not yet finished in its telling. It’s a story every family should read and declare their own voice in! It’s a story you must decide for yourself: Is Cliven Bundy a American Terrorist or an American Patriot?
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree takes place in the 1860s and follows the lives of three people trying to find their way in post-Civil War America. What was the inspiration for your characters; the Henry the ex-slave, Clara and lieutenant Elliot?
I have always been an omnivorous reader. From horror to historical and most genres in-between. The American western is genre that seems to have sort of faded into obscurity over the last thirty years or so. I suppose I can understand why. A lot (not all) of it had become dusty, formulaic, trope-worn, overly-romanticized, and historically inaccurate. I set out to write a story set somewhere between the gold rush and the turn-of-the-century. Something with a different kind of hero from the gunfighter or bank robber. Something that would dust off the genre, add some real humanity, and hopefully spark some renewed interest in this fascinating and sometimes troubling time period.
Henry as the main protagonist was an easy choice. I read a short once, about a man who was freed after the civil war and went on to become a well-known cowboy in Texas. The man had a remarkable way with horses. He was the inspiration for Henry. The challenges African Americans faced even after they were freed from slavery were monumental, and so many extraordinary men and women overcame this adversity and went on to live noteworthy lives.
With Clara I wanted to highlight challenges that women of the period faced. Their oppression can’t be compared equally to African American’s enslavement, but neither can it be marginalized. I also used her character to showcase the disconnect between wealthy easterners and the reality of what was going on in the rest of the country.
John Elliot’s inner conflict wasn’t that uncommon for soldiers both during the civil war and the years following. I have read truly heartbreaking letters sent home disillusioned soldiers from the period, particularly ones from soldier’s involved in what could arguably be called the Native American genocide.
This novel gave a good view of life in 1860s America for slaves and Native Americans. What were some themes you tried to highlight throughout this novel?
Henry and Clara’s relationship is touching but anchored with fear and a desire to find their way to the right side of things. What served as the basis for their relationship while you were writing?
Henry and Clara’s relationship is one of self-discovery for both of them. Henry begins to forgive himself, and finds that he is still capable of love. Clara discovers that her prejudices were misinformed. Her interactions with Henry, and his honesty, later affects how she later handles John’s disturbing revelations.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I have two novels in the works. One is a contemporary drama about a twelve-year-old whose parents both die tragically less than two years apart. He’s subsequently injected into the foster care system and eventually runs away hoping to find an estranged grandparent who lives off-the-grid in Montana. The second is about a man searching for his daughter years after a global catastrophe. Both novels should be released in 2019.
In 1865 a shadow hovers over the nation: the shadow lingers still…
Born into slavery, Henry’s young life is spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he’s alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.
Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion.
Henry finds himself caught in the middle.
Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: african american, alibris, america, american, author, author life, authors, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookblogger, bookhaul, bookish, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookworm, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, historical fiction, history, ilovebooks, in the shadow of the hanging tree, kindle, kobo, literature, michael mclellan, military, native american, nook, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, slave, slavery, smashwords, story, united states, war, women, writer, writer community, writing
As Dr Seuss said “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Reading opens up a vast world of knowledge, pleasure and fun. It also comes in many forms. What books do you love to read?
According to Global English Editing’s latest infographic, a few well-known, well-loved authors tend to top the charts. Writers like JK Rowling, John Grisham and Stephen King, who have published page-turner after page-turner, were among the highest paid authors of 2017.
But one reader’s trash is another’s treasure, and we don’t all want to read the same things. Every state in the country had its own favorite books and writers this year, from Hilary Clinton in Rhode Island to Dan Brown in Arkansas.
Reading has been framed as an old-fashioned pleasure, even a dying one. But the evidence shows that younger people are reading more than older people, and we’re all reading just about as much this year as we did last. The death of the book will be a long time coming.
Ready to read?
If it’s been a while since you picked up a book, that’s not surprising. We’re all constantly distracted by a world that throws information at us from every angle. Given that, it’s a surprise that books still mean so much to so many of us.
Then again, maybe it’s not. Can you imagine a world without books? Neither can we. Check out Global English Editing’s infographic below for all the fun facts about America’s reading habits in 2017.
Posted in Special Postings
Tags: A Snapshot of American Reading Habits in 2017, action, adventure, amazon, amazon books, amazon ebook, american, arkansas, author, book, book review, books, chart, dan brown, ebook, ebooks, fantasy, fantasy book review, favorite, fiction, global english editing, goodreads, habits, hilary clinton, indie, info graphic, jk rowling, john grisham, kindle, kindle book, kindle ebook, kobo, literature, magic, mystery, nook, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, review, reviews, romance, sci fi, science ficiton, science fiction, science fiction book review, shelfari, short stories, stephen king, stories, the expert editor, thriller, trend, urban fantasy, write, writer, writing, YA, young adult
Panther Across the Stars is a stirring historical novel depicting the detailed life of a Shawnee Indian warrior who is fighting for his people’s freedom. What was the inspiration for this fantastic novel?
Bear with me, as the answer to this question has several layers. I know there are some among us who find history to be dry, boring, and just written text in schoolbooks; but to me it has always been so much more. History is fascinating when you understand it is made up of living and breathing people who are just as flawed as we are. And for but one step this way or that, all the many things that come after can be altered for good or ill for all of time. I think there is also a smugness in that us here today kind of take things for granted that the world is as it is, as if it was somehow preordained or something. But I think the truth is that the past history, and the one unfolding before our eyes, is fragile in that one act, this way or that, and it can all be rewritten.
And as you walk through the pages of history there are those that rise up from time to time to do extraordinary things. Tecumseh is one of those few. Though I think many of the living do not know his name or who he really was – they should take the time to find out, for he was truly remarkable for the way he carried himself, how he inspired others, and what he tried to accomplish and came oh so close to doing. He was an exceptional human being and certainly one of the very best among us, and that was according to the people who were trying to kill him . . . think about that for a moment. You will find no better patriot for freedom in history’s pages, regardless of the race, creed, country, or age of mankind. Even now, some two hundred years since his passing from the world, his words and deeds are an inspiration to find the highest form of ourselves. Every day that we arise with breath, we should seek the strength to do what is right, even if it is not the easy path to follow. If we could all endeavor to such a thing, the world would truly be a better place.
And also, the core theme of the book is that there is nothing more precious to a living thing than freedom. The book is trying to explore the notion that freedom is more than just the physical and on the outside of the world, but that there is just as great a struggle for freedom on the inside, within the mind. In fact, the story proposes that being free within from all your masters (i.e. anger, fear, doubt, and hate, etc.) may just be the most important of all. It is my humble opinion that as Tecumseh fought for his freedom on the battlefield against musket and bayonet, he also waged this fight within against his fear, doubt, anger, and hatred; for who among us would not be filled with those masters when faced with such pain, hurt, and loss, and the tremendous burden of trying to find a way out for his people.
And lastly, as I read about Tecumseh’s life story there was a mention of a strange red comet in the sky of March 1811, as Tecumseh was trying to gather the many tribes together into one pan-Indian confederation to fight back against America’s invasion. And the thought occurred to me that what if that streaking comet had been a crash landing of a few survivors of some alien race, which fate had steered to his world to help his people find their freedom. What if. . . .
Panther Across the Stars is an intelligent and spiritual person. Was there a historical person that you modeled his character after?
None other than Tecumseh himself. I first learned of him several years back and he was simply a remarkable human being who faced an impossible situation. I tried to write the novel to make the reader feel like you were with Tecumseh two hundred years ago . . . and what would you do when faced with such trials, tribulations, and impossibilities.
I enjoyed all the history woven into this story. What kind of research did you undertake to ensure the books accuracy?
The book is loosely based on the accountings here and there of things that are said to have occurred in Tecumseh’s life. I read several books, watched documentaries, and spent many long hours of internet research to gather up as much background information as I could. This helped to provide the bones to the story, before the layering of the fictional elements. And of course, all good tales deserve some embellishment.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
Well, the intention has been all along to write a sequel to Panther Across the Stars, regarding what happens in the here and now; to see what happens when fate calls again and through their undying spirit of freedom, the scattered Shawnee descendants find the lost Ithreal stone at last some two hundred years later. And what happens when the Jhagir find their way back to this world. In fact, they may already have arrived as we conduct this interview.
As far as the planned timetable, presently there is not one. Being a first-time self-published author, and all that is entailed to try and create a high quality novel, in addition to my day job, time is at a premium and I am still in the early stages of writing the first draft.
Author Links: GoodReads
A larger-than-life tale of one man’s courage, sacrifice, and unyielding defiance to fight for his peoples’ freedom against those that would take it, and in this great struggle he finds friendship with three alien beings fallen to Earth that stand with him.
He is Panther Across the Sky and his world is fading. He takes all the hurt and pain a lifetime gives him and stares into his soul to face the greatest master he will ever know. Just a man among a dying people, he inspires his kin beyond all limit of mind and body in their outstretched and desperate grasp for freedom against overwhelming odds and the mighty nation arisen to the east in the early 1800s – America.
And along the way, he forges a bond with three alien beings fallen to Earth from a distant star, the Jhagir. Together they must find the courage to rise up against the swirling dark sea of blue jackets, muskets, and cannon fire that comes for them. It will take all their strength and spirit, and cost them more than they know, to break back the angry waves of a young nation that would devour a people and wash them away forever. And just maybe, Panther Across the Sky and the Jhagir can give rise to a peoples’ real hope for today . . . and what is to come.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: 1800, action, adventure, alien, amazon, amazon books, amazon ebook, america, american, anger, author, author interview, book, book review, books, doubt, ebook, ebooks, fantasy, fantasy book review, fear, fiction, fighting, goodreads, historical, history, indian, interview, invasion, kindle, kindle book, kindle ebook, kobo, literature, love, mystery, native american, nook, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, review, reviews, science fiction, scifi, self published, space, stories, tecumseh, thriller, write, writer, writing
Lon Brett Coon’s Panther across the Stars is a stirring historical novel depicting the detailed life of a Shawnee Indian warrior called Tecumseh otherwise known as panther across the stars that was a brave and intelligent warrior who is able to inspire loyalty, devotion and admiration from all that knew him. He battles the palefaces who are his sworn enemies even though he is curious about their strange way, and even befriends the few he could respect. This is a visceral tale of power, passion and one man’s destiny to unite his people in the struggles to save their land and way of life from the white settlers.
Tecumseh, being a proud man, is relentless in his efforts and travels for many months trying to gather support and warriors from other chiefs. Unfortunately the other chiefs do not join the alliance because many of them end up being short sighted. Tecumseh is driven by myth and hope as he battles again and again even though he is not sure whether peace is possible.
This book is a fantastic read. Lon Brett Coon writes in a way that puts the reader in the scene. I felt like I was walking alongside the triumphs and trials of the members. The attention given to the customs of the Shawnee and other tribal nations was enjoyable and detailed. The writing style was both engaging and entertaining. The author excellently paints a portrait of these people’s lives. It is interesting to read about the Shawnee and how they coped with the intrusion of white settlers. Their bravery and courage was outstanding though it leaves one wishing they had had been treated better.
It was heartbreaking to learn about the lies and deceit from the Americans and seeing the Shawnee native land disappearing slowly. We get to watch as they are constantly being moved west as treaties are broken constantly by the white people who are driven by their hunger for more land and ownership of it. This is a novel that deftly portrays the injustices brought upon Native Americans.
I would definitely recommend it for anyone who wants to know more about the history, culture, and battles of American Indians. The author has clearly done his research and kept it as accurate as possible. Tecumseh’s passion for his people is clear and earns him extraordinary friends. Although this novel sheds light on some dark historical times, there’s an undercurrent of optimism that inspires hope in the reader that maybe the Native Americans will win, and save their land.
Pages: 315 | ASIN: B076Y8BTF2
Tags: action, adventure, alliance, amazon, amazon books, amazon ebook, american, american indian, author, author interview, battle, book, book review, books, ebook, ebooks, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, fighting, first contact, goodreads, historical, historical fiction, history, indian, invasion, kindle, kindle book, kindle ebook, kobo, literature, lon brett coon, mystery, native american, nook, novel, panther across the starts, pilgrim, publishing, read, reader, reading, review, reviews, settlers, shawnee, stories, thriller, warrior, write, writer, writing
The Prophet and The Witch continues the story of Israel Brewster who is now a disgraced outcast when King Philip’s War begins. This is an intriguing setup to a novel that is high in social commentary. What was your goal when writing this novel and do you feel you’ve achieved it?
Regarding my goal, I initially wanted to write an engaging, historically accurate novel that would highlight a fascinating era that the casual reader was not familiar with. I don’t think this era gets nearly the attention it deserves, and I hope that changes in the near future. Hopefully, the book educates its readers as well as entertains them. So, yes, I think I’ve achieved my goal.
Regarding the social commentary, I think different readers will derive different messages from the book, and that’s terrific. Ultimately, I hope the novel stands as a tale of courage, love, and friendship in the face of evil and violence.
Israel Brewster continues to be an exceptionally developed character. What was your inspiration for his emotional turmoil through the story?
Thank you for the compliment. I’m not sure there was any particular inspiration; I think there’s a little Israel Brewster in all of us. Whether it’s a question of religion, war, or alienation, I think everyone feels deeply conflicted at some point in their lives. What are the things, and who are the people that genuinely deserve our loyalty? More importantly, what makes us persevere in the face of unbearable pain, and what compels us to do the right thing? I guess, to paraphrase Faulkner, writers like to portray the human heart in conflict with itself.
As a reader, it is difficult to pick a side in this battle. How did you balance the story to offer a contrasting yet similar worldview for the characters?
It’s certainly not my intent that anyone pick sides in the conflict. I think the story is balanced by presenting the common elements inherent among both the English and the Wampanoag. There are virtues among both sides like faith, love, loyalty, courage, and family. Conversely, some characters on each side are prone to violence, hatred, and ignorance. So, I hope it is really a tale of love and brotherhood versus evil and wickedness.
Ultimately, I can only hope to present a factual novel and let the reader draw their own conclusions. King Philip’s War was one of the most astounding and tragic chapters in American history, and it doesn’t deserve to be ignored and forgotten.
I understand this is the second book in a possible trilogy. Where do you see the story going in book three?
I can see us moving about fifteen years into the future. There was yet another fascinating war in New England during that time, and the remarkable Benjamin Church played a major role in that conflict as well. And evidently, in 1692, there was some kind of kerfuffle in Salem that got everyone all excited.
If you thought New England was dull in the 1670s, get ready for a history lesson.
In the critically acclaimed “My Father’s Kingdom,” debut author James W. George transported his readers to 1671 New England, and the world of Reverend Israel Brewster. It was a world of faith, virtue, and love, but it was also a world of treachery, hatred, and murder.
Four years later, Brewster is a disgraced outcast, residing in Providence and working as a humble cooper. Despite his best efforts, war could not be averted, and now, “King Philip’s War” has begun.
The rebellion is led by Metacomet, known as “King Philip” to the English colonists. He is the tormented son of the great Massasoit, and leader of the Wampanoag nation. Once the most reliable of Plymouth Colony’s allies, they are now the bitterest of enemies. Meanwhile, Metacomet’s mysterious counselor, Linto, despises this war and will do anything to end the bloodshed.
Meticulously researched, “The Prophet and the Witch” is a tale of hope and brotherhood in the face of evil and violence. It features the remarkable cast of fictional and historical characters from book one, including Josiah Winslow, Linto, Increase Mather, Constance Wilder, and Jeremiah Barron. Additionally, new characters such as America’s first ranger, Captain Benjamin Church, bring this chapter of history to life like never before.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: action, adventure, alienation, amazon, amazon books, amazon ebook, america, american, author, author interview, bible, book, book review, brotherhood, christian, church, colony, ebook, ebooks, evil, faith, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, fighting, goodreads, historical, historical fantasy, historical fiction, history, horror, interview, james george, kindle, kindle book, kindle ebook, king, kobo, literature, love, mohawks, mystery, new england, nook, novel, philip, pilgrim, pirate, Plymouth, providence, publishing, puritan, quaker, read, reader, reading, rebellion, religion, review, reviews, romance, stories, the prophet and the witch, thriller, usa, violence, war, witch, write, writer, writing
“Where shadows of past sins are revealed in the Light”
Abandonment. Dark Amish secrets. And an unforgettable romance between the daughter of an American minister and a famous British music producer tormented by tragedy.
When magazine editor Faith Edwards must take an assignment away from her tightly controlled life to travel to London—or else—she is not prepared for the series of unfortunate events that follow, or her intense attraction to David Ashton, a man who condemns all in life that she holds dear.
Set against the haunting backdrop of Cotswold, an English medieval monastery nestled high against the raging sea cliffs, and spanning an ocean’s width of unrequited love, Faith and David are forced to battle their greatest fears—unwittingly setting themselves on a course to bind their fragmented hearts together.
But will the dark chains of bitterness, not so easily broken, threaten the light of their future?
Posted in book trailer
Tags: amazon, amazon books, amazon ebook, american, amish, author, bible, book, book trailert, books, british, cotswold, ebook, ebooks, english, faith, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, god, goodreads, heart, karina garrison, kindle, kindle book, kindle ebook, literature, london, love, medieval, monastery, mystery, novel, publishing, reading, religion, review, reviews, romance, romance novel, stories, suspense, tempting faith, trailer, urban fantasy, women, womens fiction, writing, YA, young adult, youtube
Black Dragons Attack, the fourth installment in the Nick Grant Adventures series outdoes the high bar set by the previous adventures. This enthralling pre-World War II story features a superb cameo by American aviation hero Howard Hughes! Readers are transported to the nostalgic war era with the mind-blowing narrative by author Jamie Dodson. Nick Grant starts afresh as a Naval Aviation Cadet that leads to a chance encounter with Howard Hughes that changes the course of his life. Join Nick as he thwarts the Japanese plot to steal the famous Hughes H-1 racer along with his friends Nancy Tanaka and Leilani Porta for some edge of your seat entertainment.
Jamie Dodson has always delivered riveting story lines, perfect character development, amazing locales, and ultimately an exceptional climax – in short, each of Nick Grant’s adventures, be it Flying Boats & Spies, China Clipper, or Mission Shanghai or the latest offering Black Dragons Attack never fail to impress readers.
Set in 1936, Black Dragons Attack continues the Nick Grant saga as he believes his arch nemesis Toshio Miyazaki, is dead and starts afresh as a Cadet in the Naval Aviation Academy. It takes no less than a chance run in with the genius billionaire aviator and movie producer, Howard Hughes to lure Nick back into another deadly spy game.
The Black Dragons, working for the Japanese Intelligence Service, turn out to be secretly active and conspiring with a new partner, the Third Reich in California! As the Japanese hatch an elaborate plan to steal the Hughes H-1 racer to reverse engineer and build something even more advanced, US Naval Counterintelligence uncovers their activities. Nick is tasked with foiling the plans of the Japanese with the help of Nancy Tanaka and Leilani Porta.
As much as Nick impresses with his heroic show of patriotism and daredevilry, the Hughes H-1 steals the show with its sheer technological prowess and revolutionary functionalities that are years ahead of anything that existed in that era, precisely why the fascist regimes of Imperial Japanese and Nazis were so obsessed with it.
The setting of pre-world war II provides a poignant background wherein Jamie Dodson successfully manages to capture the mindset of people in a war torn country. Howard Hughes, albeit in a sort of guest appearance, manages to shine and awe the reader with his larger than life personality. The character sketches of Nancy, Leilani and Toshio are spot on and do justice to their role in the plot.
Overall, Black Dragons Attack, the fourth book in the Nick Grant adventure series is a pleasure to read.
Pages: 244 | ASIN: 1938667549
Tags: academy, action, adventure, adventure novel, aircraft, amazon, amazon books, american, author, aviation, aviator, black dragons attack, book, book review, books, cadet, california, counterintelligence, dare devil, deadly, ebook, ebooks, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, fighting, flying, genius, goodreads, h-1 racer, howard hughes, japanese, literature, military, Movie, mystery, naval, navy, nazi, nick grant, novel, patriotism, pilot, producer, publishing, reading, review, reviews, romance, spy, spy game, stories, suspense, third reich, thriller, us, us navy, war, war era, war novel, world war, world war 2, world war ii, writing
The Prophet and The Witch by James W. George is a historical fiction book, continuing on from the first book, My Father’s Kingdom. The year is 1675, and four years have passed since readers joined popular characters such as Brewster and Linto in New England. The signs of war have been steadily brewing since, with so many individuals struggling to hold the peace. Inevitably, all efforts have proved futile, and the battle now begins between the English and the Indians. This is one of the most gruesome wars many will be privy to, but one which numerous people are determined to end, preventing further bloodshed and restoring peace to both sides.
The Prophet and The Witch is divided into three parts, covering the summer of 1675 to the summer of 1676. Within each section, the chapters are short and focused on some wonderfully developed individual characters as they contend with the implications of this war.
I was genuinely shocked at the obvious association between war and religion in this account. A huge proportion of the story focuses on the beliefs of the men fighting, highlighting how their personal religious understandings act as an explanation of why war is a necessity. The English see things, such as the turbulent weather, as the wrath of God’s displeasure, but then condemn what they see as mere pagan superstitions of the Indian tribes. However, if they were to reflect, they would soon see more similarities than differences in that both sides look for signs, albeit just of a different type!
As a reader, it is difficult to pick a side of this battle. The English Christians rely on the word of God, trusting they are doing his work in ridding a blasphemous tribe who butcher innocent civilians. Yet, to the Indians, the English and their own actions are similarly threatening! The reader never fully feels they can condemn either side, for each are doing what they see as their duty to survive. The question of religion therefore lingers throughout the book, quietly encouraging you to question whether man or God is responsible for this creation of war…
Israel Brewster and Linto are firm favourites throughout the story. Their portrayal is refreshing and their actions commendable, in an otherwise fraught and harrowing period. These two are both the savours of the story for me personally as they question man’s motives and speak out when they feel an injustice is occurring.
For those who haven’t read the first book, there is an extensive summary at the beginning of book two, instantly bringing readers up-to-date with the action so far. You never feel like you are at a disadvantage because of this.
The Prophet and The Witch is expertly written and instantly engaging from the first few pages. An exceptionally drawn historical fiction account. I was captivated by this very well-structured book, and would recommend as one of the more intellectual of reads.
Pages: 375 | ASIN: B0755QL6CR
Tags: action, adventure, amazon, amazon books, amazon ebook, american, author, book, book review, books, butcher, ebook, ebooks, england, english, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, fighting, god, goodreads, heathen, historical, historical fiction, history, history fiction, indian, innocent, inspirational fiction, intellectual, james george, james w george, kindle, kindle book, kindle ebook, literature, mystery, native american, new england, novel, peace, publishing, puritan, Puritans. Quakers. Pirates. Mohawks. Witches., reading, red coat, religion, review, reviews, spirituality, stories, the prophet and the witch, thriller, tribe, war, war novel, writing
East of Mecca is beautifully written and addresses a subject that is rarely discussed. Why did you want to write about Middle Eastern culture?
I lived in Saudi Arabia for a year when my husband accepted a job with Aramco Oil Company. We lived on a company compound called Ras Tanura, located on the shores of the Persian Gulf. Within the compound were beautiful, white, sandy beaches, and flat, desert terrain filled with exotic, thorny scrubs. The sun rose every morning over the sea and set each evening over the desert. Both events were in stunning Technicolor!
Throughout my year in Saudi, I was exposed to camels, Bedouin markets, delicious food, beautiful art, jewelry, and architecture, and haunting Middle Eastern music. I even learned to belly dance!
Although we lived on the company compound, I quickly discovered the male-dominated, fundamentalist Islamic Kingdom’s rules for ex-patriot women were not so different than those for Saudi women…loose, modest clothing, driving or riding bicycles off the compound is forbidden, as is leaving the compound unless accompanied by your husband or in Aramco approved transportation.
My first day in Saudi, I was fingerprinted, photographed holding a placard with my husband’s ID number, and my passport was confiscated by Aramco. It would only be relinquished to my husband after he had applied for an exit-visa and it had been approved. I had my first panic attack when I realized I couldn’t just get a cab to the airport, board a plane, and go home.
In one day, I lost both my identity and my freedom.
As an American Clinical Psychologist not affiliated with Aramco, I had other women from the compound (American, European, Saudi and other Arab women) literally knocking on my door for counseling. I practiced secretly and illicitly (without a work-permit) the entire year I was in Saudi.
Off the compound, restrictions against women were much more apparent. Ruled by sharia law, Saudi women are required to be covered head-to-toe in black long-sleeved, ankle length cloaks called abayas, hijabs (headscarves), and face-masks called niqabs. All these were then covered with veils that render women completely invisible. Religious police called matawain patrol the streets of villages and cities arbitrarily deciding whether or not a woman (Saudi or Western) is properly dressed and properly behaved. Unless restaurants have screened off “family” sections, women are not allowed inside.
It was in Saudi, through my work with other women, where I learned firsthand about oppression and some of the other appalling conditions Saudi women face, including being under complete control of their husbands, fathers, or other males in their family, lack of personal autonomy, being forbidden to drive, honor violence, arranged marriage, child marriages…all in addition to the rigid clothing restrictions…being totally cloaked in black, even in sweltering weather.
The Middle East is a complex culture, rich in contrasts. And yet, little is written about the treatment of women in Saudi. Inspired by my own experiences and those of the women I worked with, writing East of Mecca became my passion project. I wanted to convey the exotic and the beautiful, while respectfully educating Western readers on the appalling conditions of women living under sharia law. I wanted to take readers beneath the veils that make Saudi women “invisible” and give them faces. I wanted to give a voice to those women forbidden to speak for themselves. My greatest hope is that education can lead to advocacy and action toward change.
Sarah is a fascinating character and a strong woman in her own right. What were the driving ideals behind the character’s development throughout the story?
Sarah is, first of all, devoted to her husband and children. And, with a social work background and aspirations to be a Clinical Psychologist, Sarah is a caregiver by profession and by nature. However, like most Americans, she is naïve to the experiences of others in totally different cultures. Initially, she views life in Saudi Arabia as a wise financial investment and a grand adventure. Throughout the story, with all she personally experiences and witnesses happening to other women in Saudi, especially through her relationship with Yasmeen, Sarah becomes an advocate for human rights on a much more personal level.
I truly enjoyed Yasmeen’s character and thought she brought depth and nuance to an intriguing culture. What was the inspiration for the relationship Sarah and Yasmeen have?
While it’s easy to have sympathy for people in other cultures, or those who are different from us, empathy is achieved by the ability to understand and share the feelings of another…from their perspective. To actually feel what they are feeling. My goal in creating Yasmeen’s character was to have my readers truly know her as a person, not just a face hidden behind a veil. I want them to experience her personality and empathetically relate to her joys and her struggles. The deep friendship Sarah and Yasmeen share, shows how they…and women everywhere…are the same, no matter how different their cultures might be.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on my second novel. Orchard Road is about a Clinical Psychologist, with a very dark past, who is triggered into violence by one of her patients. The time and setting is both current day Chicago, and Singapore in the 1970’s. Since I’m still in the midst of writing, I don’t know when it’ll be published, but I’m hoping it will be available within the next two years.
This moving and unforgettable novel, East of Mecca, tells a timely, harrowing, and heartbreaking story of love and betrayal, the transcendent power of sisterhood, and the ultimate price of oppression. Driven by financial desperation, Sarah and Max Hayes are seduced by promises of a glamorous expatriate lifestyle in Saudi Arabia. Sarah surrenders her career when Max accepts a prestigious job with Ocmara Oil Company and they relocate their family to the shores of the Persian Gulf. Locked inside the heavily-guarded Ocmara compound, Sarah becomes invisible within the male-dominated, fundamentalist, Islamic Kingdom, which is governed by sharia law. Gradually, she is drawn into a clandestine, illicit friendship with Yasmeen, a Muslim Saudi woman. Together they find freedom beneath the veils and behind the walls of the Saudi women’s quarters—until inconceivable events force Sarah to make life-or-death decisions. Told with riveting authenticity and exquisite detail, East of Mecca explores gender apartheid through the abuse of absolute power with an elegant balance of cultural nuance and moral inquiry. Long after you have turned the last page, you will be haunted by the vivid characters and powerful scenes illuminating this tour de force.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: abayas, adventure, amazon, amazon books, amazon ebook, american, arab, arabia, aramco, art, author, author interview, book, book review, books, culture, east of mecca, ebook, ebooks, exotic, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, food, freedom, goodreads, hijab, interview, islam, islamic, jewlery, kindle, kindle book, kindle ebook, literature, love, matawain, middle eastern, music, mystery, niqabs, novel, persian gulf, psychologist, publishing, reading, religion, religious, review, reviews, romance, Saudi, Saudi arabia, Sheila Flaherty, stories, suspense, thriller, urban fantasy, woman, women, womens fiction, writing