Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Today is my pleasure to welcome Ako Eyoung to So Many Precious Books, So Little Time.  I just loved The Vision of the Blind King and am so exited to have him here today!  You can read my review here.  

Teddy: Why don’t we begin by getting to know you better? Would you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Ako: Back in Cameroon I was a political cartoonist for a local paper. Today I am living in the United States as a political exile. I have a bachelor’s degree in history and political science but I think I was born for artistic expression.

Teddy: How much of your novel is based in fiction and how much is influenced by your youth in Cameroon? Does the novel contain any oral traditions or interpretations of oral history?

Ako:  The Kingdom I write about is a real kingdom that actually existed, It was called Kemet and was invaded by the Hyksos in the year 1720 BC. At the time of the invasion the kingdom was ruled by King Nehesy, who was the son of Neferhotep, the king before him. The invaders were led by a man called Salatis, who became king, ruled for about fifteen or sixteen years, and established a dictatorship that saw the beginning of a two hundred year Hykso rule. But of course it is into this setting that I introduce aspects and elements of fiction that serve as props to help with the effective portrayal of the ideas behind the story. And the fact that part of the plot is set in Cameroon proves that the realities of growing up in that part of the world definitely had an influence on my writing. In the book I seek to shed light on some of the reasons behind the economic disparities that engender conflict on the African continent and I use Cameroon to create this dynamic.

As concerns oral tradition, there is actually a character in the novel who is descended from a long line of Oral Historians. In fact there is a scene where he does a recital much in the same way that it was done on the African continent for thousands of years.   

Teddy: Give us some insight into one of the main characters of The Vision of a Blind King.

Ako:  Abou Bakar is a fifty year old General who is a legend in his own life time. He is a man who fears nothing and no one. In his long and distinguished career as a brilliant General, successive Monarchs have had to rely on him to protect the kingdom from over aggressive foreign kings and warlords. But what no one can see are the secret clouds of heavy doubt that cloak the man’s mind, -doubts that were born more than two decades earlier as a result of an ‘accident’ that shattered his family.

When a foreign army strikes, the current King turns once again to this capable General and confers upon him the mission of defending the land. It is the most important mission he has been conferred yet, and he knows that failure could signal the end of the kingdom. It is a situation that cannot afford any spaces for doubt. 

In the struggle between good and evil, Abou Bakar is a warrior on the side of good. He is the representation of the quintessential hero; noble, strong, determined, with good intentions, but only human and thus not perfect. 

Teddy:  Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

Ako: Both, depending on the material concerned. What is certain is that things are always changing even as the story is being written. Sometimes in the process of following a preconceived plot, the story will develop a mind of its own and take me down some surprising paths. You never know. It’s fun.

Teddy: What is the hardest thing about writing?

Ako: Marketing what has been written.

Teddy: Are you reading at the moment? If so, what?

Ako: I am always reading. Presently I am reading “The trial of Christopher okigbo” by Ali A. Mazrui.

Teddy: Do you have a favorite or inspirational author or novel? What is it about that person or their work that draws you to it?

Ako: I love the works of Chinua Achebe. In my opinion he is a master storyteller with an uncommon ability to paint detailed pictures with words. ‘Arrow of god’ is my favorite of his, and I have read it at least three times. Wole soyinka is another author whose work I enjoy. His use of tension and drama in ‘The swamp dwellers’ for example, has been widely applauded.

I also enjoy reading,Alice Walker, Mario Puzo, John Grisham, Robert le Carre, Paulo coehlo, Geoffery Chaucer, Oscar Wild, William Shakespeare, etc. 

Teddy: In The Vision of a Blind King, Melenoc, a very power hungry man whose uncommon fear of death combine to drive him into an unending quest for immortality, risking everything, including his entire kingdom, to attain everlasting life. I was reminded of a story I was read as a child; “The Emperor’s New Clothes” when I read the synopsis of your novel – are you familiar with it?

Ako: Yes I am familiar with the story of the emperor’s new clothes. In it, Hans Christian Anderson does a great job of exploring and exposing human insecurity, the extent to which we will go to mask it, and the hypocrisy that is born of that. His main character in the story is an emperor with a huge weakness for material things (fine clothing); a weakness that has blinded him to the point where he is willing to sacrifice untold quantities of the kingdom’s wealth just to dress himself. Needless to say, like most weaknesses, it makes him vulnerable and susceptible for errors. Luckily for him the blindness that seems to have spread from him to the rest of the kingdom has spared the sight of an innocent young child who can see clearly and does not hesitate to call the truth by its name. “The emperor is naked,” he says. 

In “The vision of the blind king,” we are dealing with a similar situation. We have a kingdom that, although still rich and powerful, has been greatly weakened by the effects of self-serving egoism. And like Hans Christian Anderson, my intention was to expose the political, economic and socio cultural corruption that contaminates everything when man becomes blinded by an addicting love for power. 

Teddy: What was your reasoning for tracing back 4,000 years of strife and struggle affecting this ancient African society through to the present day and laying it on the shoulders of Melenoc? Does your novel mean to provide a lesson to the reader; is this also perhaps part of oral tradition/history?

Ako: Creating a plot line that spans 4000 years of history provides me the opportunity to make the case that in fighting for virtue, humanity has to be truly determined because evil can be very persistent. We find a man who has somehow managed to survive for four millennia; a time during which he scours the earth for an amulet that has the capacity to make him all-powerful. As we follow this man on his journey, it becomes obvious that the amulet has become much more than a quest. It is an obsession for which no sacrifice is too big.

It is important to state at this point that the character of Melenoc, is representative of humanity’s collective vice. He is a product of the same baser thoughts, wants, and needs that man has harbored and continues to carry around to this moment. His aspirations, just like his guilt, are ours as well. His fear of death is found in each and every one of us, -of course to varying degrees, but it is there. Even his reaction to seek immortality is strong within our societies, as expressed in the massive use of anti ageing products and supplements that are geared towards longevity. In fact, it is common to read about scientific research that is calculated to break ‘the code of ageing.’

Now, the way things are right now, man can expect to live for a hundred years which is nothing compared to the universal big picture. Yet man is so willing to destroy nature and his environment in a bid to get the good life for this relatively short duration of his earthly existence. How much more destruction will man cause if he could live for 1000 years? And I am not saying that a long life is a bad thing, I am just saying that a longer life would be a disaster for this planet if man does not learn to be more responsible.

There are many lessons to be learned from this book but I think one of the most important ones is that Love is the answer to nearly every problem we have. A lack of love is the foundation of spiritual corruption, and spiritual corruption is the parent of political, economic, and socio cultural malaise and it will shred any society to pieces. It was the case with the ancient Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, etc, and the same will hold true for the contemporary world if things do not improve. 

Thanks so much for joining us Ako!

About Ako Eyoung:

Ako Eyong is a Cameroonian national, whose critique of government policy (as a journalist) has led to an existence in America as a political exile. Presently, while working on the sequel to The vision of the blind king, he is taking the first steps into the world of public speaking. He has spoken at several locations in the country, including Oxnard College in California, Coconino community college in Arizona, Ventura college, Ventura Chapter of Amnesty international, Rotary club of Malibu at Pepperdine university, just to name a few. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a diploma in political science.

Ako Eyong  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ako.eyong.9

Ako Eyong  Twitter: https://twitter.com/akoeyong

Buy The Vision of the Blind King:

Copyright 2007-2010: All the posts within this blog were originally posted by Teddy Rose and should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Today it is my pleasure to introduce my special guest author today, Dora Levy Mossanen.

Hi Dora, I just have one question for you today.  Please describe your experience as an immigrant to the United States. What sort of culture shock did you experience? Did your journey as an immigrant inspire Soraya’s character?  

Dora: I’ve experienced two major cultural shocks.  Once when I moved from Israel to Iran at the age of nine.  And again, when I was forced to leave Iran for the United States.  Despite being a child, or because of it, perhaps, the move from Israel to Iran shook me in more profound and long-lasting ways, so much so that those early memories live on and continue to haunt my stories.  Israel is a liberal country known to cherish its young, to give them voice, and encourage them to form ideas and flourish.  But the Iran I moved to at the age of nine had a way of delegating children to the fringes of society.  I had to learn to hide my emotions and keep silent in the company of adults, to wait for adults to serve themselves during meals, select the best crunchy rice and tender shank, before we children dared touch the food. But the most disturbing was the coincidence of arriving in Tehran on the very week that the 1953 coup d’état of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, the prime mister of the time, broke out.  Statues of the Shah in prominent squares were yanked off their pedestals and urinated on in full view.  Governmental offices and buildings were set on fire.  The entire city of Tehran seemed to be aflame in the stifling August heat.

We temporarily moved in with my grandparents in a small apartment overlooking Shah Reza Avenue, a major thoroughfare, and the pulse of the political landscape of the capital I remember the hours I spent at a low window, my elbows on the ledge, my chin cupped in my hands as I watched military jeeps cross the avenue below, the acrid stench of smoke and gunpowder levitating above.  Chador-clad women fled the streets like flocks of ominous ravens.  Why did we leave Israel, my child’s mind wondered, a country where women fought side by side with men in the army.  Why did we have to come to this burning hell, where women were ashamed to show their faces?
Then, Mohammad Reza Shah, who had fled to Italy the week before, came back to Tehran.  Life returned to normal.  The Shah ruled for another 26 years.  Iran became home.  This was where I was married, where I raised my family.
 Then the Islamic Revolution of 1979 forced the Shah and his family to, once again, leave the country. Ayatollah Khomeini returned after years of exile.  We hurriedly packed a suitcase and came to California, certain we’d be back once the Shah’s allies fascilitated his return home.  History, of course, proved otherwise. 
Here’s an excerpt from Scent of Butterflies as an example of how Soraya’s reflections are not unlike my own when I first came to Los Angeles.   “In 1979, at the outset of the revolution, and for some years after that, we, the so called “Aristocracy,” believed – and, more than anything, hoped—that the Islamic Republic of Iran was a temporary madness, religious fanatics who would not and could not last.  Iranians, we rationalized, at least those of us who had the courage to discuss matters among ourselves, were too modern, too educated, too westernized to bow down to the hold of fundamentalists.  We were wrong.  Their roots have burrowed deep. They’re here to stay.”
So once again I was forced to adjust to a new cultural environment, this one far more liberal than the one I had become accustomed to.  And this time with two children in tow—a three-year-old who did not speak English and a twelve-year-old, who teetered on the brink of teenage-hood, with a bewildered mother who had no idea how to navigate the permissive society she would call home.   What happened the following years and how we all adjusted merits another many pages.  But suffice it to say that like Soraya, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  After experiencing personal betrayal.  I began thinking about writing a story about betrayal set against the political background of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.  I wanted to tell the story of a Jewish Iranian woman, who has the courage, or the madness, to break free of the many cultural and societal restrictions forced upon her, flee to Los Angeles, and plan her intricate revenge against the woman her husband is having an affair with.
And, oh!  How very satisfying it was to give life to the glorious Soraya, who goes about extracting her revenge in ways I would not even dare think of in my darkest fantasies.
Thanks you so much for sharing your experience with us Dora! 
About Dora Levy Mossanen:
Dora Levy Mossanen was born in Israel and moved to Iran when she was nine. At the onset of the Islamic revolution, she and her family moved to the United States. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of California-Los Angeles and a master’s in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.

Dora is the bestselling author of the acclaimed novels Harem, Courtesan, and The Last Romanov. Her fourth and most provocative book, Scent of Butterflies, was released January 7, 2014. She is a frequent contributor to numerous media outlets including the Huffington Post and the Jewish Journal. She has been featured on KCRW, The Politics of Culture, Voice of Russia, Radio Iran and numerous other radio and television programs. She is the recipient of the prestigious San Diego Editors’ choice award and was accepted as contributor to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Dora Levy Mossanen’s novels have been translated into numerous languages world-wide.

About Scent of Butterflies:
A novel singed by the flavors of Tehran, imbued with the Iranian roots of Persepolis and the culture clash of Rooftops of Tehran, this is a striking, nuanced story of a woman caught between two worlds, from the bestselling author of HaremCourtesan, and The Last Romanov.
A Love So Deep Can Forever Scar the Soul
Such audacity she has, Soraya, a woman who dares to break free of the diamond-studded leash of her culture. A woman who refuses to accept the devastating betrayal her husband has perpetrated. A woman who refuses to forgive her best friend.
Soraya turns her back on Iran, fleeing to America to plot her intricate revenge. The Shah has fallen, her country is in turmoil, her marriage has crumbled, and she is unraveling. The cruel and intimate blow her husband has dealt her awakens an obsessive streak that explodes in the heated world of Los Angeles.
Yet the secret Soraya discovers proves far more devastating than anything she had imagined, unleashing a whirlwind of unexpected events that will leave the reader breathless.
Thanks to Dora Levy Mossanen and Sourcebooks, I am giving away one print copy.  This giveaway is open to the U. S. and Canada.  Please use Rafflecopter to enter.  I will be posting my thoughts on Scent of Butterflies Soon! 



Copyright 2007-2010: All the posts within this blog were originally posted by Teddy Rose and should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Giveaway: The Hands of Time by Irina Shapiro

Posted by Teddyrose@1 on January 28, 2014
Posted in Book ToursMy Past Giveaways  | 7 Comments

Thanks to Amy Bruno of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, I am giving away one Kindle copy of The Hands of Time.

Book Description:

Publication Date: December 7, 2011
Merlin Press

When a young American woman vanishes without a trace from a quaint fishing village on the coast of England only one person knows the truth, but he remains silent, allowing the authorities to search for her in vain, safe in the knowledge that she will never be found.  As Valerie’s bereft sister returns home alone, she struggles to understand what happened and come to terms with her terrible loss when she suddenly stumbles upon a clue that might finally shed some light on her sister’s disappearance.

Meanwhile, Valerie Crane finds herself transported to the year 1605. Terrified and confused she turns for help to the Whitfield brothers, who take her in and offer her a home despite their misgivings about her origins. Both Alexander and Finlay Whitfield fall in love with the mysterious woman who shows up on their doorstep, creating a love triangle that threatens to consume them all.  Valerie must make her choice, deciding between the brother who will lead her down the path of destruction or one who will give her the love she couldn’t find in her own time.

Purchase the Book:

About Irina Shapiro:

Irina Shapiro was born in Moscow, Russia, where she lived until she was eleven.  In 1982 her family emigrated to the United States and settled in New York.  Due to her love of reading, Irina was able to pick up English very quickly, and was an honor student throughout her school career.  

After graduating from Bernard M. Baruch College in 1992 with a Bachelor’s degree in International Business, Irina worked in advertising for two years before shifting her focus to Import/Export.  She worked her way up to the position of Import Manager in a large textile house before leaving the work force in 2007 to focus on her autistic son.  

It wasn’t until Irina had been at home for some time that she began to write.  Eventually the characters began to take on a life of their own and have conversations in her head, and once she started writing her musings down the stories came easily enough.  Irina incorporated her love of history and travel into her writing to create a rich and detailed background for the characters.  Since then Irina has written eight novels.  She is currently working on book five of The Hands of Time Series.

Irina Shapiro lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children. 
For more information, please visit www.irinashapiro.comYou can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

This giveaway is open internationally and ends on February 11, 2014.  Please use Rafflecopter to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright 2007-2010: All the posts within this blog were originally posted by Teddy Rose and should not be reproduced without express written permission.