I have been contracted with Love Africa Press to publish Her Golden Eyes in 2020. I am beyond honoured because I love their mission statement and I am still blown away that the amazing Kiru Taye likes my characters. I will update on here as I have more information but in the mean time, please check out the press because they are amazing and there are so many incredible authors already published writing amazing romances about Africa and African characters.
Her Golden Eyes is the first of the Heart of Gold series set in Marrakech, Morocco.
Series setting: It is the end of the 12th Century Gregorian/6th Century Hijiri, and Marrakech is a multicultural crucible constantly in danger of cracking. With the Caliph’s attention diverted to the north, elements in the city wish to break the hold of Arabic rulers and remove the accepted status quo – including the normalcy of slavery. Slavery at the time was not comparable to the exploitation, horror, and inhuman cruelty of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, being more akin to today’s issue of the minimum wage not being a living wage and employers using contracts to force inhuman amounts of labour out of people by dangling access to medical care in front of them. Still a morass of immorality, and open to abuse, but often the only option left to save oneself from death by execution or starvation.
It was perversely important to me to show the order of the city from a positive perspective. To tear into the functioning of a medieval culture from a modern paradigm would be childish, especially from the several layers of privilege on which I sit. At the time Arabic society gave women divorce rights, Jewish people protected status, and slaves contracts (called Mukharajah) to ensure their safety, protection, and right to earn their own freedom, most of Christian Society was living in willful ignorance, deliberate violence, and brutally enforced feudality.
Her Golden Eyes – Book One
Medieval Morocco, 1195 CE, 591 AH…
Sabbah’s neatly ordered life is about to be overturned. He is an important man in an important city who has been successful at everything so far, but can he succeed with love?
He should be worrying about a conspiracy to undermine Marrakech itself, but his beautiful new housekeeper is disturbing his house, his head, and his heart.
Tison is in a new city, and she is determined to control her own destiny. That destiny was not supposed to involve falling for her new master, or getting involved with a shadowy underground cell bent on anarchy.
“[Holly March] perfectly captured the struggle of a conservative Arabic man in love.” – Ahmad Fathy, beta reader
“I mega loved it. Tison and Sabbah are so wonderful together.” – Kiru Taye
Her Golden Touch – Book Two (in progress)
Malik is a good Muslim. He has just completed Hajj (the mass pilgrimage to Mecca) and is ready to settle down and marry. He is just worried about having to upset the balance of power in a house which is technically his but ruled by his mother and sisters. Surely it will be a simple matter for his mother to find someone suitable.
Kinti Sosseh is a loving sister. When she suggests herself as a potential bride for her brother’s business associate she seeks to protect her sister Sibo from a second unhappy marriage. How will she continue her craft as a goldsmith in a proper Muslim household? And that is the least of Kinti’s secrets, ones even her beloved Sibo does not know.
The second book in the series will feature a neurodiverse heroine and explore themes of toxic gender roles against which our main characters struggle.
I have been telling stories all of my life. When I was three I had an alterego with a fully fledged backstory. When I was seven I started entertaining the girls in my dorm with stories at night. I never wanted to play kiss chase or doctors and nurses. I wanted to play go around the tree three times and then you will be in a magical land you have to save from an evil entity with your comedy sidekick and magical talking animal.
Other kids just did not play intricate enough stories.
After years of unfinished projects I wrote three historical romances. I am enjoying writing what I read. I love romances! I love shapeshifter stories! I love long bubble baths, train journeys, lazy afternoons, all with a well written janeaustenmisunderstanding ™, angsty separation, guilt and then happy ever after.
However, I am hugely aware of the fact that I am a privileged white woman writing black- and brown-skinned characters. I am also a witch writing Christian and Muslim characters. I was advised when querying my generic as all get-out romances to write what only I could write, rather than trying to imitate others. I did not see any medieval African romances in English and being an aspie and an idiot, I did not see anything problematic in writing some.
As I say in my About Me page, I want to be supplanted by African and Arabic authors. Submit to LoveAfricaPress and you will get a fair shake. I never dreamed, when I learned about this company, that I would ever be honoured enough to be one of their writers. So please, oust me!
To get people going on research, I recommend the following books:
- The Medieval Spains – Reilly;
- The Almohad Movement in North Africa in the 12th and 13th Centuries – Le Tourneau;
- Medieval West Africa: Views from Arab Scholars and Merchants – Levizion and Spaulding;
- Daily Life in the Medieval Islamic World – Lindsay and Hackett;
- Avicenna’s Medicine – Abu-Asab Amri Micozzi;
- The Travels of Ibn Battutah – Mackintosh-Smith;
- Medieval West Africa – Conrad;
- The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay – McKissack & McKissack.
I want to read more romances set in the Maghreb which do not fetishize the cultures from authors who have done their research. I warn you, finding sources that have been translated into English is difficult, so if this is your first language, prepare to wrestle with google translated nonsense!
Do not worry, I have at least seven or eight couples waiting to have their stories told in Marrakech.
I am also writing fairy tale adaptations in a shapeshifter iron age world which is taking over my subconscious! I love my medieval historicals but I needed to write #ownvoice and so I decided to choose a story that already existed – Cinderella – and put a neurodivergent twist on it. Also, at the time, I wanted to write something that had already been done a thousand times better by other people to try and combat my imposter syndrome.
I have planned out Cinderella, Snow Queen, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast and I’m working on the story for Little Mermaid. I really want to include Jessamine, but I still can’t find the origin of that story so I don’t know if it’s copyright rather than fairytale. The search continues!