18 September 2011

Guest Blog: Lisa J. Yarde

This week, we're welcoming historical author and regular contributor, Lisa J. Yarde, with an excerpt from her upcoming novel, SULTANA'S LEGACY, the sequel to SULTANA. The novel will be available November 2011. Lisa will be give away a copy, in the winner's preferred format! Here's the blurb:

In thirteenth-century Moorish Spain, the Sultanate of Granada faces a bleak future, as a tyrant seizes control.

Fatima, the daughter of a Sultan, and her devoted husband Faraj have enjoyed years of peace and prosperity. Now, a power-hungry madman claims the throne. He murders almost everyone Fatima holds dear. His reign fractures a weakened Sultanate, under siege from Christian kingdoms to the north and Moorish dynasties in the south.

Fatima must preserve the legacy of her forefathers at all costs. She risks everything, even the love and trust of her husband. Amidst treachery and intrigue, she stands alone against her adversaries, determined to avenge terrible losses. Can she survive the test of divided loyalties and shocking betrayals?

Tell us more about Sultana’s Legacy.

Sultana’s Legacy is a story with themes of revenge and forgiveness, with a focus on the bonds of family and relationships between the characters. It is the sequel to my earlier novel, Sultana. The story takes place during a turbulent period in thirteenth century Moorish Spain, when my heroine Fatima and her husband Faraj have secured a bright future for themselves and their children. When the novel opens, Faraj is at the height of his power as the governor of Malaga on the southern coast of Spain. As the matriarch of her family, Fatima is devoted to her children, but has a deep sense of loyalty to her father. His murder is the catalyst for the major conflict in the book, an act that divides Fatima and Faraj. In addition, the ambitions of other family members intent on claiming the throne deepen the rift between the couple. Fatima faces several struggles along the way, against the darkness inside of her and the unending conflicts that threaten to tear her family apart. At the moment where she finds the strength to overcome her pain, she endures a final, shocking betrayal that changes her perceived destiny.    

Why have you written this story and its prequel, Sultana?
During my college years, I was fascinated to learn that there had been an Islamic presence in Europe. For seven hundred years, a diverse people known as Moors had ruled what would become one of the most influential Catholic nations. The thirteenth century in Spain was a brutal and turbulent era, as most of the medieval period, but it was also the flowering of an age of artistic, intellectual and architectural brilliance in Spain. Fatima and Faraj played pivotal roles in the history of that period, as did their descendants for another two centuries. I am truly fortunate that the primary setting of their story, the Alhambra Palace in the southern Spanish city of Granada still exists and is open of visitors. I hope readers will share my fascination with the Alhambra, the Moorish period, and Fatima and Faraj’s lives.

How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since junior high school. An old classmate of mine reminded me of this, when we re-connected on Facebook. Just short stories, really, so apparently I have been a storyteller for at least 25 years. If not longer. Writing stopped being a hobby in 2005, when I joined a critique group. It was a truly humbling but also enriching experience, and taught me a lot about writing well and making it a priority.

What inspired you to become a writer?
It all started with love. I loved the craft of storytelling. I loved how words transport us to another place and time. Something stirs inside me when I read a compelling story, a sense of the time and place. When I was younger, I discovered that I wanted to tell stories like that. To create settings and characters, which are memorable and vivid like the ones I have read. I have also realized that it is not enough to have that goal in your head.

Will you write more on Moorish Spain?
I hope to do so, someday. I’ve spent several years documenting the period and Fatima’s family. I certainly have the research compiled so that I could do it. For now, I bid a fond farewell to this particular project.