Tag Archives: The Qaraq

A Thousand Years of Solicitude

I have just published the most difficult thing I have ever written. During the nine years I spent working on this book, I experienced my first case of writer’s block, a scam from a vanity press, and three quagmirish slowdowns during the editorial process. I kicked off these hardships with research that included digesting a thousand page encyclopedia on Arabic literature.

Why did this book require four times the work and angst as the first two novels in my series, 1001, The Reincarnation Chronicles? Because of personal pressures? My house became an empty nest, my music for dance career heated up, and a new principal at my job threatened the mission of The Fame School: all these might have been inspirations to focus more on the book. The dense forest of research? Yes, I was fascinated by ideas like: early Islam outlawed fiction because the factions vying for power had to speak the truth about their relation to Mohammed, so falsehoods and fictions of any sort were dangerous. No, all this information may have slowed me down, but made the work fun not arduous.

The answer to my befuddled query about all the care and concern I poured into The Qaraq and the Subversive Manuscript lies in Magic Realism. My book begs to belong to unconventional genres like Visionary Fiction or Karma Lit, so it cuddles up nicely to Magic Realism. The 1001 series has an inherent Magic Realism structure, where a group of neighbors in a realistic present discover they have been together 1001 lifetimes and examine their karmic history in magical past life stories. The group of souls, or qaraq, also has magical experiences receiving their memories in the present, and there are past life tales with a measure of realism. As the series evolves, the interplay between realistic present and magical past becomes more intricate. Thinking about this complexity helps explain my thousand years of solicitude with Book Three in the series.

The present day narrative of The Qaraq and the Subversive Manuscript starts the morning of 9/11 and delves into the qaraq’s post-traumatic stress that year. The realistic context is steeped in psychological symptoms and political pressures and sensitivity. The main past life story sequence outlines the qaraq’s magical involvement in the evolution of Islamic literature, the reworking of the Scheherazade tale, and the creation of a special, multi-cultural edition of The Thousand and One Nights.

In other words, the qaraq is thrown into the past world of Islamic culture as the current world is thrown into a conflict between West and Mideast. As the War on Terrorism is declared, the characters recover from their trauma and gain an appreciation of Arabic culture and history. As they remember that their edition of the Nights included all cultures and beliefs, but became subversive when the repressive Catholic powers in Spain gained power, they can see the US moving toward a more biased, fractured, and exclusive society.

It’s a lot. To construct a psychologically true depiction of ten people variously experiencing post 9/11 stress was unnerving. To interweave how they responded to reliving a Golden Age of Islamic multiculturalism gone sour was challenging. Either narrative might have taken twice as much work as the other books in the series. Together they took four times the effort.

I regret rien, as they say in the cabaret. I just read that before Trump was elected pre-screenings of the delightful rom-com The Big Sick received pleasing reactions. But after Trump started taking down the US government, the reactions to the Pakistani love interest now rated cheering and passionate applause. And more laughing. I can relate. The 1001 series began as a love affair with the history of The Thousand and One Nights, and The Qaraq and the Subversive Manuscript was to be a celebration of my immersion in that magical literary work. I never thought it would bump elbows with the political reality of anti-immigration, xenophobic bully-pulpitism, and a proliferation of subversive protest.

So perhaps my slog through the writing process for the book had a higher purpose of delaying its release to 10/01/17, coinciding with this strange new political universe we inhabit. For now the noble struggle between the magical and realistic elements in The Qaraq and the Subversive Manuscript can reflect the Magic Realism of our current society.

Or maybe it’s Surrealism….

To receive information about the release of The Qaraq and the Subversive Manuscript, previous books in the 1001 series, and giveaways, join 1001/Qaraqbooks News.

 

This post is part of the Magic Realism Blog Hop. Nearly 20 blogs are taking part in the hop. Over three days (28th – 30th July 2016) these blogs will be posting about magic realism. Please take the time to click on the links below to visit them and remember that links to the new posts will be added over the three days, so do come back to read more.

Magic in the Time of Conventions

A year ago, when I contributed to Zoe Brooks’ wonderful Magic Realism Bloghop, it was so easy to post about that literary genre in relation to my fantasy series, 1001, The Reincarnation Chronicles.  But just a year later, how do I write about fantasy and wonder when the Realism of the world is so violent, dire,… Continue Reading

The Magical Harmony of Andalusia

I heard an extraordinary concert recently that was a breath of fresh cultural love and harmony in the midst of all the hate and violence in the world now.  It was a collaboration between: al-Bustan Takht Ensemble, an instrumental band playing Arabic music, Dalal Abu Amneh, a beautiful and mellifluous Palestinian vocalist in the tradition… Continue Reading

25 New Beatles Albums, Part 3

Now that I’m done with 1001, Book 2 capitalism for a bit, I can complete my summer promise to share my playlists for fantasy albums by The Beatles.  Fantasy because the albums came from after their break-up, using the best songs from their solo albums in any given year. Given the great response to my initial post-Beatles article, which you… Continue Reading

Thursday is the New Black Friday

Happy Thanksgiving!  Oh, but I forgot: due to our irrational consumerism, I saw all kinds of ads on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, announcing that “Black Friday Starts Today.”  Crazy enough that we line up all night after a rare day of gratitude to fight over cheap toys and televisions.  Now we have simply replaced Thanksgiving with… Continue Reading

World Elephant Day 2015 tale

Elephants are the official karmic mascot of 1001, The Reincarnation Chronicles.  In honor of World Elephant Day, re-visit this story of one of the noble critters from the series. And for a free book giveaway, join 1001/Qaraqbooks News, my free email subscription.  Join now and win a free signed copy of The Qaraq, Book One of 1001:… Continue Reading

1001, The Reincarnation Chronicles, and Magic Realism

This post is part of the Magic Realism Blog Hop.  Click the blue frog at the bottom to see a list of other mouth-watering articles!  Here’s my two bits: One Valentine’s Day, my wife gave me a sadistic gift.  She signed me up for Pitchapalooza, a book marketing workshop given by The Book Doctors at our… Continue Reading

A Movable Golden Age

My task this year is working on several books at once in the 1001 series, and with that comes the pleasure of tracking an idea like The Movable Golden Age.  As I humbly learn how to entice readers to discover The Qaraq, Book One of The Reincarnation Chronicles, I wait for my editor Debra Ginsberg to do… Continue Reading

6 Easy Pieces: How I Nailed My Kickstarter Campaign

One year ago I successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign, enabling me to publish my novel 1001: The Qaraq, Book One of The Reincarnation Chronicles. At this time, I am celebrating my supporters and all those who have showed interest in my writing by giving away special offers. I am also looking back on how I went from… Continue Reading