Another Blast from the Past

This came up in my Facebook memories from eight years ago, and I decided to share it here. It contains some of my  thoughts about not only my writing but about prejudice.


 

I’m writing about this over here rather than on my author page for a reason. I seem to have started losing fans over there when I announced my work on His Beloved Infidel. I realize that correlation is not causation, and people choose what they follow based on any number of things. But the idea that people might be leaving the page because I’m talking about the history of the time period (during Iran’s Islamic Revolution, though the story takes place in Paris) and the information I researched on Iranian/Persian cultural customs kind of bums me out and makes me wonder whether the mini-exodus is not related to some kind of Islamophobic beliefs.

I have said before that extremist/fundamentalists of any stripe do not truly represent the vast majority of their co-religionists — of any stripe. And yet, when it comes to certain faiths, so many people seem ready to scapegoat people who believe differently from themselves.

There are a lot of things about a lot of mainstream Christian churches that I dislike, and I’ve made no secret of that. I’ve been accused by adherents of some of those beliefs to be “Christophobic,” which is pretty ridiculous, since I believe in Jesus’ teachings (which are pretty simple: feed the poor, comfort the ailing and love your neighbor as yourself). I just don’t believe in hating people in the name of Jesus; that makes no sense.

My story is about a guy, who happens to be Persian and living in Paris, whose brother is an Islamic radical. That guy is in love with an American girl with whom he works at a language school. The story is about the conflicts they experience because of cultural differences … and the political climate at the time. At the bottom of the story is the idea that we are all human beings in search of connectedness.

So, those are my thoughts on the matter. I figured that the philosophical part of my whine was better suited to this page than the authorial one, LOL.

Sample Saturday: “His Beloved Infidel”

infidelHi, everyone. The Persian new year, No Ruz (there are numerous alternate spellings), coincides with the spring equinox. Among the traditions are wearing a new suit of clothes, eating certain foods, and jumping over fire. In honor of No Ruz, here is a snippet from my first inter-ethnic romance novella, His Beloved Infidel. Enjoy!


March 21, 1979
No Ruz

Farukh inspected his new tuxedo one more time; the final fitting had been just that afternoon, in a shop on the Champs-Elysées. Before that, he had stopped at Cartier; the signature red box he’d collected there sat atop the dresser. He looked at himself in the mirror again, this time with a critical eye. There was one more thing that must be done before going to the opera, he decided, and went out the door rubbing his chin.

~~~

Catherine examined herself critically in the mirror; the dress was even more perfect than she had expected. Her hair was pulled up in a French twist, and jewels sparkled at her ears. A quick touch of perfume behind her ears, and then she picked up her evening coat and handbag. Farukh had sent a car for her, and the driver was waiting on the street. It was time.

~~~
Farukh stood at the center level of the Opéra Garnier’s grand staircase and shot the cuffs of his shirt. He saw Catherine the moment she came in. She slipped off a black velvet coat to reveal an elegant, bias-cut dress of dusty rose satin. It had a simple, draped neckline, but when she turned around he saw that it was open to her waist in the back, with a pleat at the center creating a flowing train. It was the kind of thing a movie star would have worn in the 1930s; she was stunning.

As she continued to look around, Farukh realized that she could not pick him out of the sea of men in white tie and tails — not from that far away. He stepped down the marble stairs as she continued to look around.

“My khanum,” he said as he came up behind her.


Want your own copy of His Beloved Infidel? Here are the back cover copy and purchase links.

Farukh and Catherine are colleagues at Paris’ World Language Institute. He is Persian; she is American. Can their newly-discovered love survive the strain of Iran’s Islamic Revolution?

Author Sharon E. Cathcart (In The Eye of The Beholder, Through the Opera Glass) presents her first tale of inter-ethnic romance. Set against the backdrop of real-world events, Cathcart tells the story of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events.

Amazon (geo-targeted link takes you to the store for your country); Angus & Robertson (Australia); Apple Books; Barnes & NobleFNAC (France); Kobobooks (available for 2400 SuperPoints if you are part of the program); La Feltrinelli (Italy); Librerías Gandhi (Mexico); Livraria Cultura (Brazil); Rakuten Japan; Scribd; Smashwords.

Winter Promotion After-Action Report

Hi, everyone. First, thanks to all who selected my titles during the Smashwords promotion that ended yesterday. Here is how it all went.

No one selected any titles that were discounted at 50 or 75 percent. Many selected titles that were free of charge. In order of popularity:

With 27 selections, Clytie’s Caller was the most popular title. In second place, with seven selections apiece, came Through the Opera Glass and It Happened in Memphis. Down on the Corner of Love and Brief Interludes had six selections each. Five people chose Flowers of Europe. Two Days in June, Hard-Boiled Blues, Yellowjack and The River Man, and Last Stop: Storyville, each garnered three new readers. Finally, 2010 Hindsight, Les Pensées Dangereuses, and His Beloved Infidel were each chosen once.

While it’s obvious that a lot of people enjoy the sweet, Regency romance of Clytie’s story, it looks like the most popular works were those in the Pocketful of Stories series. Thirty-four people added those titles to their libraries.

Thanks to all who chose my titles. I would love it if you were to review them and share your thoughts on your favorite site. Much appreciated.

Winter Promotion

sale with red shopping bags, vector background

Hi, everyone. As you know, I occasionally do sales and promotions of my eBooks. Through January 1, 2021, my eBooks are either free or heavily discounted on Smashwords. Sales links and prices:

Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes Series

In The Eye of The Beholder – 99 cents; Through the Opera Glass – Free; In The Eye of The Storm – 99 cents; Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes Omnibus – $2.99

Pocketful of Stories Series – All Free

Last Stop: Storyville; Yellowjack and the Riverman; A Light Across the Lake; Down on the Corner of Love; Two Days in June; Flowers of Europe; It Happened in Memphis; Hard-Boiled Blues

Full Length Fiction

Bayou Fire – 99 cents

Short Fiction

Around the World in 80 Pages – Free; The Rock Star in the Mirror (Or, How David Bowie Ruined My Life) – Free; His Beloved Infidel – Free; Brief Interludes – Free; Clytie’s Caller – Free

Non-fiction and Essays

Les Pensées Dangereuses – Free; Sui Generis – Free; 2010 Hindsight: A Year of Personal Growth In Spite of Myself – Free; Some Brief Advice for Indie Authors – Free; Hugs and Hisses (benefits Humane Society Silicon Valley) – $1.99; Music, Mayhem, and Bad Decisions – $1.49

If you enjoy my work; I would appreciate reviews wherever you prefer to leave them. Thank you!

Sample Saturday: “His Beloved Infidel”

Hi, everyone. Just an update on the injury I mentioned in an earlier blog post; it turns out that I have bursitis. The next steps involve 10 days of high-dose NSAIDs, ice packs, and rest. Sometimes I feel like I’ll never bet my walking program back on track! Still, it’s at least something that can be easily resolved, and no fractures were found on x-ray.

And that brings me to today. It’s time for another sample from my work. This the opening of His Beloved Infidel.


December 1978

Farukh Aria scratched his chin through the hated beard as his brother, Dadash, pulled the tiny Fiat Cinquecento into Paris traffic. The thick black mass obscured his jaw and reached to his buttoned shirt collar; Farukh loathed it. He watched the World Language Institute in the rearview mirror, growing ever smaller as Dadash drove them to the Ayatollah’s compound at Neauphle-le-Chateau. While his fellow teachers celebrated the end of winter term with weekend parties, Farukh would spend it surrounded by religious men, saying prayers he was no longer sure he believed in. It would be a relief when the weekend was over and Dadash dropped him off at the train.

“Your thoughts are elsewhere, brother,” Dadash remarked as he pulled the car on to the peripherique. He was shorter, rounder and swarthier than Farukh; most people would be hard-pressed to believe they were brothers.

“I am sorry, Dadash. I do not feel well.”

Farukh hoped that this would quiet his brother. Dadash had spent the week in Paris, at Farukh’s flat in the 11th arrondissement, and had much to say about the evils of the West and the infidels there. He had come from their home village of Qom, on fire with the ideas of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Dadash repeated Khomeini’s ideas obsessively; he was especially enamored with promises of great success and wealth without effort or cost.

“How will these great promises be kept? Who will finance them?” Farukh had asked once. Dadash had scoffed that Allah would provide for the faithful. Dadash was not fond of work.

For his part, Farukh loved being away from Iran. Educated at Oxford, he spoke English and French in addition to his native tongue. When the opportunity arose to teach Farsi at the World Language Institute in Paris’ 9th arrondissement, he had leaped for it.

Dadash, on the other hand, held to the Ayatollah’s idea that formal education was unimportant. He grew out his beard and wore his shirts tieless, but completely buttoned, to show that he was not “Western-stricken.” As more and more Persian men followed the style, Farukh had joined in — not because he agreed, but because the rumors of people being killed by the Ayatollah’s men for not being sufficiently Islamic in appearance were far too believable.

Despite Farukh’s best hopes, Dadash droned on, first about their youngest brother, Kourosh, and his studies at the Tehran School of Social Work. And then, something that got Farukh’s attention.

“ … time you were married,” Dadash was saying. “You are thirty years old. We must get you back to Iran and find a good, modest Muslim woman for you. An appropriate match.”

“I have someone in mind,” Farukh said quietly.

“Good,” Dadash replied. “Now, let us listen to the Agha speak.” He switched the radio on and dialed in BBC Maks, the Persian-language station; the Ayatollah was making his weekly address. Dadash always referred to the cleric as “Agha,” which meant leader.

Farukh closed his eyes. Dadash could never know about the woman he loved. Not only was she not Muslim, she was an American. And she did not seem to know that Farukh was alive.

Like Farukh, Catherine Ellis was a teacher at the World Language Institute. She had blonde-streaked brown hair that reached just to her shoulders, and blue eyes that always seemed to be smiling. She dressed fashionably without being outrageous, and was well-liked by both students and faculty. So far as Farukh could tell, she was not seeing anyone.

By now, he thought, she must have found her Christmas present.


Back cover copy:

Farukh and Catherine are colleagues at Paris’ World Language Institute. He is Persian; she is American. Can their newly-discovered love survive the strain of Iran’s Islamic Revolution?

Author Sharon E. Cathcart (In The Eye of The Beholder, Through the Opera Glass) presents her first tale of inter-ethnic romance. Set against the backdrop of real-world events, Cathcart tells the story of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events.

His Beloved Infidel is available free of charge on Smashwords through May 31, 2020, as part of the Authors Give Back promotion. Click here to get your copy today.