Twelve Kings Tuesdays — The Kings

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From now until the release of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai on September 1st, 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!


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There’s only ONE WEEK REMAINING(!) until the release of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai! It’s so close now my teeth are itching. I don’t know why, but they are. So, come on, pub date! I can’t take it anymore!

Ok, what are we doing here again? Oh yeah! Twelve Kings Tuesdays!

This week I figured it was time to talk about the Kings. There are, as you might have guessed, twelve of them, and of course they play a rather important role in the book and the series. But the thing is, I didn’t want to have them play too large a role in the first novel.

There’s a lot behind that rather simple statement, and it may seem counterintuitive at first. The trouble I saw right off the bat was that I couldn’t have all of them front and center. First of all, there are simply too many of them! Dealing with more than a handful was tricky because it would be overwhelming to the reader. They’d all start to meld together into one big, royal mess, like a throne made only of melted-down kings. Plus, the ones that did get page time, I wanted to stand out. It was important that each have their own personalities, their own strengths and weaknesses.

But beyond the mere pragmatics of handling characters in such a way that the reader can absorb them, I wanted the Kings to be an almost mystical force in Sharakhai. Because they are. They’ve ruled Sharakhai for more than four hundred years. They were granted special powers by the desert gods. They control the asirim, the ghoul-like creatures that protect the city from those that would stand against them and also come to take the tithe of blood once every six weeks. And so, just like you don’t want to show magic too plainly lest you demystify it, I didn’t want to show too much of the Kings. I wanted, instead, to show their effect on the populace. I wanted their presence to be felt without having them directly on the page.

Until I was ready to reveal them, that is.

As I was writing the book, I slowly built up the Kings in my mind. They accreted, and the series of images below helped. I wanted to understand not just what they looked like, but how they lived, where they lived, how they fought, and so on.

I have some that give me some sense of what their garb might be like, and also the sense of gravitas one would feel when viewing them. Here are a couple of those.





Only recently did I add one image for the face of a King, this one for King Mesut, the Jackal King.


Raz Degan playing Darius III Achaemenid in Oliver Stone’s Alexander

A big part of their life is what they do in the House of Kings, which is in reality a collection of their palaces that are built on a massive hill in the center of the city known as Tauriyat. I wanted images for what the palaces looked like from the outside:




As well as the inside:






I also collected images that showed me their differences when it came to war. Each of the Kings fights with different weapons, as their families are each from a different part of the desert.






In the end, it was a very interesting journey, peeling back the layers of story (both true and false) around the Kings. And I’m not done yet! I focused on a few kings more heavily than others in this first book. More will be revealed in detail in the coming books. And I’ll continue to add flavor to them through my Pinterest boards.

I hope you enjoyed this installment. Join me for one more Twelve Kings Tuesdays next week when Twelve Kings in Sharakhai is finally released!

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.