THE TWISTED VINES ( working title)
I am very excited about my new Australian saga. The story, involving Italian, German and Australian families, commences in 1867 in the southern Darling Downs of Queensland when young Joe Ballistrieri marries Anne Marlowe against the wishes of his family, with whom he breaks all ties. The young couple move to Brisbane where Joe finds employment with carrier Wilhelm Meuller. When gold is discovered on the Mary River, Wilhelm and Joe set forth to make their fortunes. Unwilling to wait in Brisbane, Anna (Joe's version of her name) and Elsa Mueller, with all four young Muellers, set out on an adventurous overland journey to join their husbands. After adventures on the goldfields there will be a return to the Darling Downs to the nascent wine industry around which the entire sage will be set.
I am not a writer who plots in detail in advance, but rather I develop ideas, start writing, then let the story slowly take shape. Part of the joy of writing in this manner is the sudden and usually unexpected appearance of previously un-perceived characters, who often take an important role in the story. By the time I am halfway through the writing the whole of a story has become clear to me.
PEARLS FOR A SULTAN ( working title)
Shagar el Durr is one of the most famous women in Egyptian history, the only woman - apart from various Pharonic queens - to rule in her own right.
A great deal has been written about Shagar el Durr, in both Arabic, and some French, texts. Most deal with the years following the death of Sultan as-Salih Ayyub. Yet the western world knows little of this amazing woman who ranks alongside Boedeceia and Joan of Arc for leadership, who, by concealing the death of her Sultan husband, was able to lead her country to victory against the invading French Crusaders.
I am taking the story back to the beginning, to 1237. Immediately after the death of Sultan al-Kamil the Ayyubid Empire is fractured by jealousies, wars and treacheries as the various princes strive for power. This is the time when Najm Ayyub falls in love with his new concubine, Ismet, who will become known as Shajar el Durr. Equally in love with Najm Ayyub, Ismet becomes his confidante, the woman behind the man, on the treacherous path that will give him the sultanship of Egypt.
This novel will span the twenty years of medieval history that saw the end of the Ayyubid rule of Egypt and the beginning of the Mamluk era.
The story will be divided into three parts:-
PART ONE – SYRIA, 1237 to 1240
PART TWO – SULTAN, 1240 to 1249
PART THREE – SULTANA, 1249 to 1257
Since I do not read Arabic and have all but forgotten French - research is a challenge to say the least. There are certain pieces of information I require that I - frustratedly - know are out there in Arabic texts. I am in great need of a generous scholar of the period to assist me. Disappointingly, no one whom I have so far approached has even replied to my queries. Given this dilemma, I can safely say that PEARLS FOR A SULTAN is a story that will become a long drawn out be a 'work-in-progress' - to be taken up between other writings.