Shadow on the Wall: Book One of the Sandstorm Chronicles
by Pavarti K. Tyler
Fighting Monkey Press
Elih, Turkey has established its own set of laws that seek to control and dominate the population, in the name of Islamic law. This does, of course, affect women’s lives most of all, as the regime of the RTK (the ‘Morality Police’) targets women in an attempt to keep them docile and subservient.
Recai Osman is the heir of a billionaire who lacks direction in his own life. Then, the unthinkable happens and he is forced to wander in the desert, alone and helpless until a Jewish father and daughter take him in to help him recover from injuries he has sustained and has no memory of receiving. While in Recai is in their care, the RTK brutally attacks Rebekah, the daughter, and Recai is left to pick up the pieces of his newly crumbled and torn reality.
After years wandering the desert in search of a new life, Recai is drawn back to the life he abruptly left years before. He returns with a new consciousness and understanding of the brutality and oppression of the ruling class of Elih. It is then that he discovers that he must fight against the system in superhero fashion by protecting the women who live there. While carrying out his vigilantism, he inadvertently draws more people into his plan of protecting those who need it. Soon, there is a complex network that is aiding him and encouraging his efforts.
Tyler gives us a triumph in feminist literature, while supplying a believable ‘superhero’. Recai possesses no overt unearthly powers, but instead relies on his faith in knowing of what is right and wrong. In reality, he is just a man standing up for what he believes in, within the confines of the predetermined regime. The humanity which is displayed throughout the story is what makes it a success. Tyler is also not apt to shy away from graphically violent scenes to save those who wish to hide from the realities she discusses in the story. While the graphic scenes are not what one may want to read and have so forcefully pushed in front of them, they are necessary to be delivered in such a manner in order to keep us from hiding from the brutal truths in the lives of her characters.
Shadow on the Wall is a brilliant work, in that it is incredibly real and simplistic in its delivery. Tyler masterfully weaves complex issues of violence against women, religious oppression, and vigilantism into a cohesive, straight-forward look at the issues. Every one of the many characters is equally important within the story, and their position is easy to sympathize with on some level- even if their actions are not. This is a work that shows the extremes to which the ruling class will go to keep their positions solidified, as well as the ability to control the population with fear, domination, and violence. This is a success in what is sure to be an engaging new series from a powerful new voice.
When author R.J. Keller first queried us to write an essay on her book, Waiting for Spring, back in 2009, we sadly turned her down. However, her book began getting so much attention, I decided to revisit it and bought a copy for myself.
Since then, R. J. and I have become great online friends through Facebook, Twitter, and other blogs. I have a lot of respect for her as a writer. So, last year I asked R.J. for an interview. She gladly accepted. But to make things fun and interesting for us and for our readers, we decided to do the interview via Twitter.
So, our questions and her answers had to be 142 characters or less. Enjoy!
LLBR: Let me start by congratulating you on the Amazon Encore acquisition of W.S. What are you excited about the most with the upcoming release?
RJK: Knowing that it has the potential to reach a bigger audience. I try to write stuff that connects with people…the more people the better.
LLBR: Did they request any changes, other than the cover, to be made to Waiting for Spring?
RJK: It got a very thorough (and very welcome) copy edit. I’m happy to say there were no major cuts. Plot-wise, there’s only one minor change.
LLBR: Tell us where this story came from when you first wrote it. What inspired you to write this book? Is it personal?
RJK: It’s personal, but not autobiographical. I wanted to explore the dichotomy between what we say out loud as opposed to what we think & feel.
LLBR: Tell us who you were as a writer BEFORE you wrote this book.
RJK: In terms of style I’m the same kind of writer now as then. I do outline a LOT more now, though. I didn’t outline at all for WFS.
LLBR: Are there any well known or famous writers (living or dead) that have influenced your style? If so, how?
RJK: Australian author/poet Luke Davies. His prose is gorgeous, but his stories are gritty as hell. He made me realize that blend was possible.
LLBR: Who (or what) else are you reading these days?
RJK: Three most recent: 33 AD – David McAfee. Pictures of You – Caroline Leavitt. Harry Potter series. I like a little bit of everything.
LLBR: What’s the one book, or Great American Novel, you wish you’d written?
RJK: Honestly, The Princess Bride. It might be the most perfect book I’ve ever read. It’s entertaining and funny, but it’s smart, too.
LLBR: What are you working on now? Will you self-publish it or are you seeking representation?
RJK: Currently working on The Wendy House, a follow up to WFS (not exactly a sequel). Encore has first dibs and I see no reason to go elsewhere.
LLBR: On being a writer or author, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? And who gave it?
RJK: ‘If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’ – Toni Morrison
LLBR: What advice would you give for new authors considering self-publishing?
RJK: Have your book well edited. Research ALL your publishing options. Be patient. Overnight success is rare.
Success takes lots of hard work.
While I agree with most of the points we are going to make, I don’t feel like some of them are that important. And while this isn’t labeled a TOP 10 Things You Should Know, some of these points aren’t even the first 10 I’d think of right off the top of my head if I were creating my own list. But that’s just my opinion.
Sure, you need to #1 Pick a niche. But I don’t think you really have to #2 Study your competition. If only for the sake of avoiding plagiarism or copying an idea that’s already out there (vampires?), if you are studying the genre you want to concentrate on, then you already know what’s out there and you know which readers you want to target. However, do any traditional authors study their competition? For the most part, probably not. Just go study the teen section in your local chain bookstore and count how many covers have hot shirtless men on them that are either vampires or angels. Without reading the blurbs, I already can guess what all of those books have in common.
I agree with #3 all the way. You are often your own editor unless you have the money up front to invest in a professional. Buyer beware. I’ve reviewed books that claim to have been meticulously edited by professionals and I still find mistakes. You should definitely at least have a good friend or colleague read your book and look for mistakes. A second opinion helps.
#4 Make your title memorable is dear to my heart. If you’ve read my books, you know I love me some metaphors and hidden meanings. So, I’m all about a catchy title.
Look for the second part of this list in my next post! Want to keep you a little bit intrigued! I hope you do not mind! Let me know if that is annoying in the comments section below!