Guest post and #Giveaway: Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran by @AuthorMGW

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A young woman confronts her own dark desires, and finds her match in a masked conjurer turned assassin. Inspired by Gaston LeRoux's The Phantom of the Opera, Marion Grace Woolley takes us on forbidden adventures through a time that has been written out of history books. 

"Those days are buried beneath the mists of time. I was the first, you see. The very first daughter. There would be many like me to come. Svelte little figures, each with saffron skin and wide, dark eyes. Every one possessing a voice like honey, able to twist the santur strings of our father's heart." 

It begins with a rumour, an exciting whisper. Anything to break the tedium of the harem for the Shah's eldest daughter. People speak of a man with a face so vile it would make a hangman faint, but a voice as sweet as an angel's kiss. A master of illusion and stealth. A masked performer, known only as Vachon. For once, the truth will outshine the tales. 

On her birthday, the Shah gifts his eldest daughter Afsar a circus. With the circus comes a man who will change everything.


Guest post:



When I saw a call for Go Book Yourself guest bloggers, I knew that I wanted to step forward. 

Back in 2012, Amanda gave a lovely review to one of my early novels, Georg[i]e, the story of a girl who falls for a female-to-male transgender guy. Remembering this started me thinking about time, and how my life has changed over time. 

Georg[i]e was the third novel I’d written, and the last one I would write for almost three years. It wasn’t that I loved books or writing any less, but that I’d started to doubt whether I would ever get very far with my own. I hit the post-publication blues that many new authors get when they realise marketing books is a hundred times harder than writing them. 

Then a story came along that I felt I couldn’t not write: Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran, a dark tale set in 1850s Norther Iran, inspired my Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera. I set out to explore the back story to that classic, which Leroux hinted at but never told. 

It centres on The Little Sultana, a minor character who takes centre stage. An exploration of opulence and wealth in the court of Shah Qajar. An age of political games and cruelty, where women held power and affluence, but rarely in their own right. 

The book struck a chord with Ghostwoods Books, who offered me a contract. Possibly the only fair trade publisher to split earnings fifty-fifty with their authors. The paperback was beautifully produced, and resulted in an audiobook narrated by Hugo-nominee Emma Newman. 

In the space of a year, since its publication, I found myself appearing on a number of high profile book blogs, featured in the UK’s Writing Magazine, and appearing at book talks. My post-publication flump was at its end. 

Few writers, including myself, ever set out believing we’ll make a living from what we write. More important is that what we write gets read. That’s why we write in the first place: to give life to stories, to create something that can live in the imagination of others. 

I’ve since been offered my first small advance for a retelling of The Children of Lir, an ancient Irish legend, also with Ghostwoods Books. Through Ghostwoods I met David Southwell, a fellow author and creator of Hookland, an open source playground for writers and artists interested in mythos and folklore. I’m currently working on a collaboration for that. 

In the same year I took another important decision. 

I currently live and work in Rwanda. I founded a consultancy company for international development, and last year headed a human rights program. I have enjoyed all of that immensely, but in my heart of hearts, it’s always been writing that’s drawn me to the keyboard faster than replying to e-mails or drafting bids for contracts. 

Development is a difficult job for a writer. With writing, you are constantly looking for clarity of communication: how to get your message across, how to strike an understanding with people you have never met before. Conversely, the world of development is built around a language that nobody really understands: ‘sustainability’ this, ‘key performance indicators’ that. 

The language is ambiguous, confusing, and often stands in the way of direct communication on any meaningful level. 

There is a long standing argument that language is the difference between an everyday concept and a profession. If you create lingo that is too hard for most people to understand, they have no choice but to pay someone – a professional – to translate for them. 

Last New Year, I decided to be extremely honest with myself. Writing is my passion, communication is important to me, books make the world go round. 

So, I quit my job, stepped back from consultancy, and I am now planning to teach creative writing in June, as well as getting involved with the local publishing scene to see where I can make myself useful. Oh, and write a load more books. 

It’s unnerving, because it’s not a stable income and I haven’t done it before, but already I feel a lot happier in myself. Any new venture contains elements of the unknown, and that can be terrifying. But, to quote Jim Carrey: “You can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” 

Who knows where I will be this time next year. Wherever it is, I hope this post acts as encouragement to anyone out there writing a book, and to all those in post-publication blues land. It will pass, just keep writing. 

And to readers – you are the reason books exist. 

That is a momentous truth.


Thanks for the great post Marion. You can visit her website HERE. 


Giveaway:


The prize will be one hard copy and one audio copy of Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran.




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