I have been talking about this short story for a little while now, and it has finally come to be time for its appearance on the online marketplace. I now have the ISBN registered (978-0-9545-5353-1) with Nielsen bookdata, and finally have to go through the process of one last edit, then the upload to Amazon. The Lady of the Lions will be part of Amazon’s KDP Select program for the first three months at least, so anyone on an Amazon Prime account will have very easy access. It will be ebook only at this stage.
The Lady of the Lions will sell at around $1-£1 depending on the final details, so it will certainly not break the bank! It is set around 150 years before In a Milk and Honeyed Land, in the same small Canaanite hill country town of Kephrath. Of course none of the characters overlap but the culture is not very different from that of the full length novel. Anyone who has read the book will recognise the town.
The story was inspired by two letters which are part of the Amarna correspondence, a large archive of clay tablets which are mostly from one or other city-state ruler to the Egyptian pharaoh of the time (Amenhotep III or Akhenaten, depending on when exactly the specific letter was written). These two particular letters may have been written from the town of Kephrath – they were certainly written by a woman and so are a rare and exciting insight into female participation in both literacy and politics. The story seeks to put some flesh onto the bare bones of these two letters.
I am hoping – depending of course on Amazon’s upload and distribution process – that they will be available next weekend, March 16th/17th. More details nearer the time… Meanwhile here are a couple of extracts:
Belita-Labiy found it difficult to concentrate, though, with the news rippling around the hill country. So far the raids had not been too close, but from all that she had heard, these groups of men were swift to move, and swift to strike, wherever they pleased. Who could say which town they might visit next?
So she knew that her dancing, while apparently as fluent and potent as ever, lacked the whole-hearted commitment that she preferred. It could not be helped, but the distraction nagged at her. So all the while that she danced like Taliy in the earliest garden, and later as her body thrilled and her voice cried out in lovemaking, part of her soul was anxiously flitting around the uplands, trying to guess what would happen next.
* * * * * *
Belita-Labiy realised that she was nearly cut off on her own. He turned his head, suddenly seeing her there. His breath was hot, panting, urgent. The look in his eyes terrified her. She waved the little knife at him and dodged to one side while there was still time. He grasped at her with his free hand, catching at her arm. She pulled free, and the fabric of her sleeve tore in his hand as she ran over to the window.
Kelizzi and Jarrar placed themselves front of her, but they seemed small and frail before the man advancing towards them. He laughed at them as he approached, and Belita-Labiy felt her groin clench tight with anticipatory fear at the expression on his face.