The World of Aliya Arabesque
Today we’ll dive into a world few westerners know much about–the culture of the Bedouins–with Writing with the Stars finalist Madeline Smyth.
Welcome, Madeline. My blog is now yours.
Thanks, Mia, for having me today, and hello to Mia’s readers.
Many aspiring authors rarely have anyone with whom to share their creations. Critique partners struggle to find the time to read a chapter or two, and let’s face it, most domestic heroes just don’t know what you’re talking about when you talk to them about romance. But since becoming a finalist in the Writing with the Stars Contest, people have asked me about Aliya Arabesque and myself. Wow!
During the past month, among other things, I’ve posted a slideshow and the opening scene of Aliya Arabesque on my blog, and I’ve spoken about the inspiration for this story in an interview with my mentor, Emma Lang, on the Kensington Brava Authors blog. But today, I’d like to touch upon something I haven’t touched upon before—the world of Aliya Arabesque.
Intense world building is essential for genres such as paranormal and historical. After all, readers have no life experience with the periods of a historical or worlds of a paranormal. On the other hand, light world building is all that is typically necessary for a contemporary. With these stories, readers need only a sentence here or there to imagine a story’s setting or understand a character’s behavior.
Aliya Arabesque is a contemporary, though with the world building of a paranormal or historical. Arabs are a people deeply imbued with the ways of their ancient culture, demanding that a contemporary story set in their world have a historical flavor. More, Western readers tend to know little about the Arab world, requiring that an author do some intense world building. For example, do you happen to know:
•That Shari’a law (the sacred law of Islam) applies to every facet of a Muslim’s life?
•That a man may take up to four wives, provided he treats them equally?
•That a woman can’t travel without a mahram (allowable escort)?
•That a woman isn’t veiled to hide her beauty from men to whom she doesn’t belong?
•That an unrelated man and woman can’t look into one another’s eyes?
•That a woman entices a man not with the sight of her flesh, but with the flow of her silky veils, scent of her perfume, and melody of her ankle bells?
•That a man pays a bride price for a wife?
•That one-half of the wealth is in the hands of women?
•That a sandstorm can come with little or no warning, last for hours or even days, and create a cloud of sand as high as 49′ in the air?
•That a camel has long eyelashes to protect its eyes from flying sand?
•That a Bedouin can survive for days in the desert without water?
Aliya’s contemporary voice is a foil to Sheikh Farūq’s historical voice in this ancient setting. But Aliya Arabesque is more than the story of an American woman swept up into the Arab world. Sheikh Farūq takes Aliya home to New York, giving her the chance to escape his world, and unexpectedly finding himself lost in hers. In a modern setting, Sheikh Farūq’s voice becomes a foil for Aliya’s, turning their conflicting beliefs and views upside down and inside out.
An excerpt from Aliya Arabesque.
The sheikh’s desire for Aliya caused dissension among his tribe and destroyed the harmony of his harem. Fearing some of the tribesmen, Aliya stole a camel from the sheikh and fled through the desert without a mahram. When she stopped to rest, she encountered criminal outcasts from another tribe. Sheikh Farūq saved her from these outcasts and returned them to their tribe, sending them to certain death for other crimes, thereby betraying his world. Now, in his tent, Aliya must answer to the sheikh for her crimes against him.
Aliya looked into the sheikh’s eyes, defying the laws of his land yet again. She’d stolen a camel and traveled the desert without a mahram. Would he now punish her for having violated Shari’a law, freeing her from the chains of his desire? Or would he protect her from the dangers of his world and enslave her?
“Farūq,” she said, using his name for the first time.
He tugged her hand, and as she lost her balance, he tumbled her into his arms. She lay looking at him, her body turned into the warmth of his golden one, her fingers tangled in the folds of his robes. No, he’d never free her. In that moment, she realized she’d love him and only him forever, whether she belonged to him or not.
“You are my woman—strong in will, but delicate in body—and though you will reap what you sow, you will never provoke me to harm you.”
“Never will you be my master,” she warned.
His fingers slid over her cheek, and his head tipped forward, drawing her into the mystery of him. Her heart raced. Her breath came faster. Her body trembled. What should she do—grant her savior the fullness of her gratitude, or deny her protector the sweetness of his plunder?
His headdress tickled her face. “Kiss me.”
He lowered his mouth, and although she wanted to lift hers, she turned away at the last moment, denying her desire. His lips brushed her face, trailing a path across her cheek to her ear. She couldn’t hold back a sigh of delight.
“Why do you deny us?” His breath fanned her ear.
She turned her cheek into the caress of his lips, even as she whispered in his ear, “I’m an American woman who must be a man’s only woman, not an Arab girl who can be content with being one of a sheikh’s many concubines.”
Madeline’s Bio: To learn more about Madeline, check out Emma Lang’s interview at http://www.bravaauthors.com/blog/2010/10/18/interview-with-madeline-smyth-wwts-finalist/ You can also follow Madeline at http://www/madelinesmyth.blogspot.com or friend her on Facebook.
Madeline’s Brava mentor is Emma Lang whose next release, RESTLESS HEARTS, will hit the bookstore shelves next February.Check it out on http://www.emmalang.com
There’s nothing I love better than a story fraught with intrinsic conflict. Madeline’s Aliya Arabeque certainly qualifies. Understanding other cultures, how people think about themselves and their world is part of why I read. Madeline has obviously done a great deal of research into the Islamic world. Do you have any questions for her?