by guest blogger M. J. Schiller
My book, Taken by Storm, released October fifteenth from Crimson Romance, is a sort of Prince of Persiaesque romance set in the fictional town of Avistad and fictional village of Tamook. I did not have a specific time period in mind when I wrote it, more of a general era, before electricity, guns, and cars. I did, however, do some research for the book, to ensure that I had an accurate flavor for the climate, the wildlife, and the foods eaten by people of Ancient Persia. The more research I did, the more fascinated I became with the desert.Did you know, for instance, that twenty percent of the world’s land surface is desert? I would have expected it to be much lower; they seem so rare to me. Maybe the percentage is so high because the Namib Desert expands for over 102,248 square miles on the edge of southwestern Africa. It also has the world’s largest sand dunes, some as high as 1,300 feet! Another interesting tidbit I picked up while researching was that the Joshua tree only grows in one desert, the Mojave. That’s a good reason to preserve our deserts, as their flora and fauna are so unique. Research also told me that jackals and panthers were indigenous to the area and that brought about the following scene:
He [Tahj] felt a draft and turned to find the front door slightly ajar. “Oh, no, Bashea, you didn’t.” He stepped outside and immediately heard her piercing scream coming from somewhere in the forest behind the house. Tahj blew out the candle and dropped it at his feet; it was lighter outside with a three-quarter moon shining down. He tore off around the side of the house, calling out her name.
Again a shriek ripped through the air, followed by the all-too-familiar feline wail of a wild cat. Panicked now, Tahj ran forward, attempting to pinpoint the location the cries came from. Clumsily, he tried to draw his sword as its scabbard banged against his thigh, stumbling every now and then over tree roots and vines as he ran. After about twenty seconds he tripped into a clearing and saw Bashea several yards away, outlined by the moon as she swung a large branch threateningly in front of a pacing panther.
As Tahj watched, the panther sprang. With a mighty swing Bashea clubbed it, sending it flying back several feet. But the branch broke on impact, causing Bashea to lose her balance and tumble to the ground not far from the injured cat. It was evident by the yowl which issued from the animal’s throat Bashea had inflicted some major damage, but, at the same time, it was clear the panther wasn’t done with her yet.
Bashea searched frantically on the ground for another stick as the animal rose slowly to its feet. Tahj ran forward and Bashea, catching his motion, glanced in that direction just as the animal leapt. But before the cat could land on her, claws extended and teeth ready to rip her apart, Bashea’s quick reflexes had her rolling out of the way. The cat took a swipe at her but missed and was about to advance when Tahj came running, yelling to distract it. The panther took one look at Tahj, flailing and screaming, and took off into the brush, leaving Bashea quaking on the forest floor.
Tahj fell to his knees beside her. “Are you all right? Are you all right?”
“Y-yes,” she said, her voice trembling.
When he saw she had all her limbs attached, Tahj’s adrenaline suddenly turned to rage. “What, in the name of all that is good, were you doing out here?”
So, you see, research gave me the insight into what Bashea might face when she ran away. The desert world in which Prince Tahj and Bashea spend their time is extremely interesting. If you’d like to hear more of their story, pick up a copy of Taken by Storm, available through Crimson Romance, Amazon.com, BN.com, I-books, Kobo, and other E-book Retailers.
Have you ever visited the desert? If so, what was your impression? What regions and climates do you prefer?M. J. Schiller