Twelve Kings Tuesdays — The Mentor

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From now until the release of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai in early September, I’m going to be posting a new image from the Pinterest board I created for inspiration. I’ll be talking a bit about each image, why I chose it, how it affected the story, and so on. Read on for this week’s installment.

Curious what Twelve Kings in Sharakhai is all about?
Download the first three chapters here!


Like what you see? Be sure to check out the Twelve Kings Pre-order Incentive, which will net you two free ebooks if you order Twelve Kings before Sep 4th, plus a chance to win some great prizes from DAW Books, Penguin Random House, and Gollancz!

Wow. The release of Twelve Kings is only 4 weeks away! Things are moving fast and furious now. And speaking of fast and furious, I thought it might be interesting to talk about Çeda’s mentor, Djaga.

Early on in the story, my editor, Betsy Wollheim, said she wondered how Çeda came to be such a skilled fighter. I had some inkling of her background, how she was trained, but only that. It was too vague, and it had to be more clear since it was such an important part of the story.

So how did Çeda become so good? Well, part of the answer is to do with her mother, who trained her from a very young age to wield a sword. Part of it is also Çeda herself, who loves swords and the other forms of martial arts found in the Shangazi Desert. But a big helping of the credit also goes to Çeda’s mentor, Djaga, who taught Çeda the ways of the pits. Djaga is from the Thousand Territories of Kundhun, which I modeled very loosely off of central Africa. Djaga came to Sharakhai to find her fortune, and did after she learned how to fight in the pits herself. I knew I wanted to try to capture Djaga’s spirit in picture form early on, and this is one of the first images that really struck me.


Such a beautiful image. I love the sepia tones and the great headdress and dress the woman is wearing. I kept searching, though, for something that might capture more of Djaga’s attitude when she was fighting, and eventually I found this image:

Cipriana large head study 2, pastel & collage

There’s so much emotion behind those emotionless eyes. Like, I’m going to tear you apart and there’s nothing you can do to stop me. Djaga plays a relatively small role in this story, but she has a cameo in the project I’m working on, Of Sand and Malice Made. I should really give her her own short story, though.

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.