Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why Authors Love a Good Sheikh Story

I had forgotten about this article posted on I(heart) Presents and for those of you whom haven't seen it, I thought I would share with you Why Authors Love a Good Sheikh Story.

Posted by Malle at I(heart)presents

I wanted to capture some of the great points some of the Presents authors made about writing the Sheikh book.

First, from Kate Walker: “The huge problem that Harlequin/Mills & Boon novels have comes from the fact that they all look so much the same on the shelves and so those who don’t regularly read a range of them assume that they are all the same inside. Readers know that there is a variety and a range of storytelling that comes from the individual authors. And, for me, comes from the individual characters too. So I’d be unlikely to say that I love/hate or even am indifferent to sheikh books as a whole. There are certain sheikh stories that I love, others that just haven’t worked for me. And of the ones that have worked I’d have to mention Michelle Reid's fabulous The Sheikh’s Chosen Bride and The Arabian Love-child. I was so intrigued by Rafiq who had a secondary role in the first that I was thrilled to see him get his own book in the second. And the Sheikh’s Chosen Bride is a brilliant example of the way that a great writer can show how two people can be totally in love with each other from the very first page and yet the conflict can tear them apart simply because each one of them is trying to be honorable.

“And that’s what matters - the individual characters. Like you, Julie, if the characters are rounded and believable then I’m hooked. It’s not the nationality of a hero but who he is that I’ll love.

“As an author, again, I haven’t many sheikh books to my name - Desert Affair and At the Sheikh’s Command - and that’s it. For me, there are certain plots that just have to have a sheikh hero because they can’t work as well if they don’t. It’s that รข ruler of all he surveys setting that Kimberley mentions. When your hero is an absolute ruler, with the power of life or death in a way that a European hero can’t have then it gives the story an added edge. That’s what I tried to use in At the Sheikh’s Command. But when I create a sheikh - and when I read one I enjoy - I want a real man - powerful, regal, proud, hard - but also capable of genuine love, honesty, protective and honorable. But then I ask that of all the characters I read and enjoy - and the ones I write. Yep, it’s all in the execution.”

Trish Morey wrote: “I just love the escapism and sheer fantasy of the sheikh story. I think EM Hull got it so right when she penned her famous The Sheik about a century ago. Being whisked away by the king of the desert is a theme that resonates with women all over (though clearly not all of them, Presents fan!) It’s fabulous in Presents there’s a wide range of reading and authors so you can always find a great read.”

And Annie West added “I think you’re right, Trish, about the pure fantasy of being whisked away to a desert kingdom. There’s something about a hero who has absolute power in his own right, and the question of whether or how he’ll use that power, that can be so intriguing. That setting/premise can produce situations that just aren’t available for instance in downtown Sydney. The interaction between such a hero and a strong heroine can be fascinating. Which, I suppose brings us to Julie and Kate’s comments about character. I agree the characterization has to be right.”
A variety of storylines, characterization and the sheer fantasy of being swept away by a man who has absolute power (but also knows how to use it well) are what make sheikh stories work.

Do the reasons why writers and fans like Sheikh books make you decide to read one with fresh eyes? What is your favorite hero archetype?

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