Desert Rising Tour Schedule
Title: Desert Rising
Author: Kelley Grant
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse (HarperCollins)
Release Date: April 21, 2015
“It frightens me, knowing the One has called up two such strong individuals. It means that there are troubled times in our future, and you must prepare yourselves.”
The Temple at Illian is the crown jewel of life in the Northern Territory. There, pledges are paired with feli, the giant sacred cats of the One god, and are instructed to serve the One’s four capricious deities. Yet Sulis, a young woman from the Southern Desert, has a different perspective – one that just might be considered heresy...
Sulis’s twin Kadar, meanwhile, is part of a different revolution. When Kadar falls in love with a woman from a Forsaken caste, he finds he’s willing to risk anything to get her people to freedom. But with Sulis drawing a dangerous level of attention from the deities, and war about to break out on two fronts, change may not come as easily as either twin had hoped.
An astonishing debut, Kelley Grant brings to life a powerful new epic fantasy tale of determination and self-discovery.
I think the most common advice given to new writers is “write what you know.” Common advice, and frustrating to a budding fantasy or science fiction writer. I’m writing about dragons, or spaceships that haven’t been invented yet. How can I write what I know, when what I’m writing doesn’t exist? And why does it matter? Shouldn’t a writer be free to let her imagination wander?
Writing what you know makes your writing believable. And you know more than you think you do, so don’t despair. In Desert Rising, the feli or great temple cats are pathways to the divine presence called the One. I’ve never met a feli, as they are a figment of my imagination. But while I was writing the novel I was owned by a housecat named Chester, who had a very strong personality. He owned me, he owned the house and he chose which visitor to bestow his gracious presence on. In Desert Rising, the feli claim magically talented visitors who walk into the Temple, making them initiates of the Temple. Very much like Chester stared down visitors in my house, assessing them before making the choice – either a lap-sit claim or a growling exit. This excerpt from Desert Rising shows my heroine meeting her feli the first time and how I put Chester’s personality into the feli character of Djinn:
Sulis studied the feli carefully. Most were very young animals, trying to prove their dominance among the pride. Many were of a heavier build, similar to the mountain feli that would attack the mules of the caravan in the North if Aaron didn’t post guards. Some even had stripes. But one feli, a male, had been sitting quietly in the back of the pack the entire time, staring intently at her and twitching his long tail. He was tall and rangy with a smaller, more elegant head than the bulky snow feli she’d met first. His short hair was a tawny color, but unlike the wild desert feli whose shape he shared, he was not spotted. Two long black stripes accented his long aristocratic nose. His posture showed dominance and maturity the other feli lacked; she could almost feel amusement coming from him for the actions of the other felines. Her attention caught, he padded forward and sat in front of her as though he'd just been waiting for her to wake up and realize she was his.
"Well, you're it then, are you?" she asked him. His purr rumbled through the hall, but he did not undignify himself in front of the pride by asking for a petting.
Readers have told me they love Djinn and how I captured aspects of their own cats. They want to be chosen by a feli. I made the character come alive to them by writing what I learned in my decades living with cats. Doing that with all the characters, writing what I know of people and human nature, sets up a realistic world in a fantasy setting. Because I surround the fantasy with personalities that are known and understood, that creates a trust in the reader. Researching the mundane details about horses and everyday life in medieval times (ie. adding to what I know) lets the reader relax into the story. They then see me as a reliable narrator. Because of this, the reader is willing to trust my use of magic, to suspend disbelief and immerse herself in those aspects of the story that are pure imagination and have never been known. What you know is the framework for your imaginary world and aids your writing without holding you back.
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About the Author
Kelley Grant grew up in the hills of Ohio’s Amish country. Her best friends were the books she read, stories she created and the forest and fields that inspired her. She and her husband live on a wooded hilltop and are owned by five cats, a dog and numerous uninvited critters. Besides writing, Kelley teaches yoga and meditation, sings kirtan with her husband, and designs brochures and media.
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