Twelve Kings Tuesdays – The image that started it all

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Over the next few months, I’m going to be posting a new image from the Pinterest board I created for Twelve Kings in Sharakhai and talking a bit about the image, why I chose it, how it affected the story, and so on. By the way, I’m riffing off of what Aliette de Bodard is doing with her upcoming release, The House of Shattered Wings. Be sure to check her new book out. It’s getting a ton of great buzz.

The image I decided for the first in the series is, perhaps not surprisingly, the first image I posted to the board.

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Bedouin Sword Dance

By the time I created the Pinterest board and started trawling for images, I already knew the sort of story I was trying to tell. A desert city, the center of commerce for the neighboring kingdoms, ruled by ruthless Kings. I knew the main character, Çeda, was a woman bent on revenge. But I wanted to get a better handle on the flavor of the world. One of the ways I do that is to just find images that strike me. That inspire in some way.

This image is of a Bedouin woman performing a sword dance. I had come across the “dance of swords” while researching the Bedouin tribes and their customs. And when I came across this image, I knew I had something good. It’s a wonderful image. The thing that strikes me most is the sheer motion implied by the photo. It made me wonder what the entire dance might look like. But it also made me wonder so much more about their nomadic lives as they wandered the desert lands of the Arabian and Syrian deserts.

Those imaginings were quickly adopted into the book. It partially advised me on the desert tribes that wander the great Shangazi desert around Sharakhai, but also spoke to the kings who rule it. In the book, there is a group of elite swordswomen known as the Blade Maidens who protect the Twelve Kings of Sharakhai. They figure quite prominently into the overall tale, and certainly the first book. And this image is a big reason why.

I hope you enjoyed this installment. Join me for more Twelve Kings Tuesdays as the release of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai approaches!

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, Book One of The Song of the Shattered Sands, is available for pre-order in the US via Penguin Random HouseAmazon, or Barnes and Noble and in the UK via Amazon UK and Waterstones. Audio versions will also be available via Brilliance Audio and Orion/Gollancz Audio.