A Brand New Novel
Josephine Baker, the early-20th-century African-American dancer, comic, and singer–hugely famous in Paris. Did you know that she was also a spy for the French Resistance during WWII?
I’ve been working the equivalent of two jobs lately: Trying to get the word out that “The Sword of Medina,” the sequel to “The Jewel of Medina” has been published, and writing the partial manuscript and outline for my new book, “Queens of the World,” which has thrust me into a new era but, in many respects, not a new subject. I am still writing about women in history whose contributions have largely been forgotten or ignored. Set in the 13th century, this book will provide a critique of religion, as well as report on the Crusades through the eyes of women.
As I research and write, I am struck anew by how little has changed. Women have more power now, but we struggle still for equality and for legitimacy in a largely male world. How else to explain the recently released reports regarding the high rate of female sexual assault on college campuses — one in five women will be raped or sexually assaulted during her college career! — and the high number of men who escape punishment with a mere slap on the wrist? And how, I wonder, can the Christian world continue to claim superiority to that of Muslims when fundamentalists circumvent the law with their own extremist acts of violence and efforts to oppress others’ freedom of choice where their own bodies and lives are concerned? Now, as in the 13th century, religion is invoked not in the name of love, but in the name of hatred.
Some have asked me if I intend to write contemporary fiction, if I don’t have commentary on our current culture instead of dwelling in the past. The more I read and the more I write, the more I become convinced that the two are the same. By writing historical fiction, I aim to open eyes to the fact that we humans have been maddeningly, dishearteningly slow to evolve, and that the future of our entire species may hinge on our ability to move forward. To do so, we must reject the craziness and internalize the wisdom that spiritual practices have provided for us — such as the Qur’anic revelation that “You are created from a single soul” and the Biblical assertion that “God is love.”