Did you face any quandaries as you wrote?
I am not politically correct. I tend to call things the way that I see them, but in my own defence I believe I will always admit I was wrong if facts can be presented which show my opinion to be erroneous.
There are a series of scenes ( in the third book) waiting to take their place which will have to be substantially altered.
I envisaged Ximene having a relationship with the Emir of Karaman (Turkey), who was her trading partner. It would have given me an attractive way to “show” how she was building her wealth instead of “telling” the reader about it. I expected her to emerge with some new knowledge or changes to her character which she could use to advantage.
In my mind it would have been a sympathetic treatment. (similar to Angelique and the Sultan by Sergene Golon}
“The Tournament at Venice” Gives you a feel for the treatment iI wanted to give.
It was to procede with a plot line that because Yvette a slave girl given to John, she had become John’s property but under islamic law he now had responsibility for her. it deal with the difficulty of her adjusting to a western and particularly a Cathar environment.
To get this right I needed to know more about Muslims and Islam. I went to Turkey and immersed myself in the culture, food, entertainment, Turkish baths. I left the cities and drove up dirt tracks to remote villages to see for myself.
By this stage I had some expertise in conducting interviews. I used a technique of playing back to people what I though they had told me and seeing if they agreed.
There was something wrong in Turkey. It seemed that there was unwarranted defensiveness. I was puzzled by the answers I was given and eventually became concerned that I was being mislead.
After I left Turkey I then tried to get a better understanding by consulting islamic sites, sites whose declared aim is to educate and inform the faithful about islamic beliefs.
I was horrified.
Bear in mind this was well before the “Arab Spring” and all the subsequent difficulties. Suffice it to say I am not surprised by any of it.
After “Charlie Hebdo’ I have taken all information about Islam from my site. Well… nearly!
I no longer feel able to romanticise Islam or the life within a harem, but time and some reworking may soften that view.
I still have a problem because in book 4, Ximene rescues Isabel and Constance Perez, the illegitimate daughters of Pedro II of Castile ( Pedro the Cruel) from the Alcazar in Seville. One of the threats they face is a resurgence of Islam. I will have to say what it is they are being rescued from.
I cannot avoid it, it is history. Isabelle, though illegitimate, is an ancestor of every English monarch since Henry VII and both Constance and Isabelle are an important part of my story.
I wondered if I should share this with you, but decided that if we are to work together on future books you needed to know. ( see I am using the Earl’s words). Perhaps you can check back with me anything you do decide to use from this section of the interview.