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.

Authors Give Back – Listing Update

AGB Promo

Hi, everyone. After having nearly everything in my Smashwords catalog available free of charge for a full month, I’ve decided to change it up for a little bit. As of right now, I have left only my historical fiction in the promotion. The only exception is my Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes omnibus, as all of the included volumes are still listed separately.

If you have selected any of my titles, I hope you will write a review either in your blog or at your favorite review site. Thank you, as always. List of available titles, with direct links, below, in alphabetical order.

A Light Across the Lake V2A Light Across the Lake – Return to Paris’ glamorous Opera Garnier, and the world of the award-winning “Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes” series! “A Light Across the Lake” is the tale of apprentice set builder Lucien Dubois, who is determined to see what lies in the fifth cellar. Will his exploration raise the ire of the infamous Opera Ghost?

Bayou Fire – Diana Corbett’s childhood was plagued by unceasing dreams of smoke and flames. The nightmares went away, until the noted travel writer’s first night on assignment in Louisiana … when they returned with a vengeance. Could the handsome Cajun, Amos Boudreaux, be the key to unlocking the secret of BAYOU FIRE?

Clyties_CallerClytie’s Caller – Bath, 1816. Clytemnestra Preston has become so terrified of life that she refuses to leave her room. Not even her family can convince her to take her place in Society again. Doctor Samuel Whittington, late of His Majesty’s Army, may be her only chance for a cure … and romance. Can Sam convince Clytie to open the door, and her heart?

DOTCOL V2Down on the Corner of Love – Being a civil rights activist isn’t easy in rural Louisiana. Raine’s found herself ostracized and alone because she’s a woman who speaks her mind. Fed up, she leaves her country world behind for beautiful San Francisco. There, Raine meets a new best friend, Jo, who is free-spirited and living life to the fullest. But Jo’s in more danger than Raine realizes, “Down on the Corner of Love.”

Flowers of EuropeFlowers of Europe – Thaddeus Flowers, American inventor and charming rake, is chasing adventure and romance across Europe. English scientist Arabella Abingdon is always one step ahead of him. Join the excitement in these steampunk-tinged historical tales that take you from Hyde Park to the Place des Vosges.

Hard-Boiled Blues

Hard-Boiled Blues – Two dead bodies. Two policemen, one in New Orleans and one in Memphis. Not all crimes have easy solutions in the Jim Crow South. It’s enough to make you sing the blues. Grab the final entry in “Pocketful of Stories” today!

31432511His Beloved Infidel – 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?

ITEOTB Wrap Cover frtIn The Eye of The Beholder– When French equestrian Claire Delacroix loses her fiance in a tragic accident, she comes to live at the Paris Opera during its 1890s heyday. Whilst working at the opera, she meets a mysterious, masked stranger: Erik. Is it possible that the two of them will heal the pain of each other’s past? Updated for 2015 with glossaries of equestrian terms and French words used in the text.

eye2In The Eye of The Storm – San Francisco, 1948. When a mysterious stranger approaches Clarice Kaye in her favorite restaurant, his words trigger a voyage of discovery: “You look just like your grandmother, but you have your mother’s eyes. There was only one question in Clarice’s mind: how could he know? Armed with family diaries that tell of the scandalous grandmother for whom she was named, Clarice embarks on a journey through Paris’ modern art movement, 1906 San Francisco, and the depths of the Opéra Garnier in this long-awaited sequel to “In The Eye of The Beholder.” “In The Eye of The Storm” is the 2015 Silver Medal winner for best fan fiction in the Global eBook Awards.

It Happened in MemphisIt Happened in Memphis – Evie Boudreaux has a knack for seeing history in action. Why? Because she sees ghosts. Come along on a visit to Tupelo and Memphis, and see the earliest days of rock music through Evie’s eyes! Buy “It Happened in Memphis,” Pocketful of Stories No. 7, today!

Storyville V2Last Stop: Storyville – Riding a New Orleans streetcar is an everyday occurrence for Tulane freshman Jimmy Arceneaux (“Bayou Fire”). But one evening, things are different. Find out how in “Last Stop: Storyville.”

Opera Glass AlternateThrough the Opera Glass – Author Sharon E. Cathcart took up a challenge in 2012: to write flash fiction and full length short stories based on various prompts. Each story features one or more characters from “In The Eye of The Beholder: A Novel of the Phantom of the Opera” or its sequel, “In The Eye of The Storm.” Brimming with historical detail, the stories in this collection range in place and time from 19th Century Persia to post-World War II San Francisco. “Through the Opera Glass” was the runner-up for “Best Short Story Collection” in the 2014 eFestival of Words Independent Book Awards.

Two Days in June V2Two Days in June – Starvation. Fear. Fighting in the streets. It’s June 1832, and Paris is once again at war. The students of the Sorbonne rise up against those in power, believing that right and the people are on their side. But King Louis-Philippe has other plans.

Yellowjack V2Yellowjack and the River Man – Yellow fever. Voodoo queen Marie Laveau. A long-lost relative’s homecoming. The Underground Railroad. All of them are part of Alcide Devereaux’s (“Bayou Fire”) continuing story. See what adventures come his way in “Yellowjack and the River Man.”

 

Authors Give Back – Extended!

AGB Promo

Hi, everyone. The Authors Give Back promotion on Smashwords has been extended through May 31, 2020, and I decided to continue participating.

This means that you can get almost all of my eBooks free of charge until the end of May. The one exception is Hugs and Hisses. which benefits Humane Society Silicon Valley; that book is discounted, so I still have some modest royalties to give them.

Visit my Smashwords profile to make your selections. You’ll find formats for any eReader, or to read on-line. Thank you!

Click here: Sharon E. Cathcart’s books on Smashwords

Weekend Reads: Authors Give Back

AGB Promo

Hi, everyone. I decided to participate in the Authors Give Back promotion via Smashwords. All of my books are free except “Hugs and Hisses,” which is heavily discounted. The reason it’s not free is that I donate all of my royalties to Humane Society Silicon Valley and I would like them to get something.

So, why am I doing this? Because so many people are hurting. Because times are difficult. Because libraries are shuttered to help prevent spread of the coronavirus. Because it’s something small that I can do to help. So, starting today and running until April 20, you can find the selections at the link below. All I ask is that you consider leaving a review at your favorite site.

Sharon E. Cathcart’s Books on Smashwords

Frequently asked question: Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeToday’s question comes from the Insecure Writers Support Group.

As is so often the case, we have to define our terms. Do we confine ourselves solely to visuals, like paintings or photos (that seems to be implied by the question), or do we consider works of literature, theatre, etc? Because, for me, the answer depends on the terms.

I was inspired to write In The Eye of The Beholder by a novel and a musical. I was inspired to write His Beloved Infidel by a memoir. I was inspired to write The Rock Star in the Mirror (Or, How David Bowie Ruined My Life) by a musician and his work. A single photo or painting, though? Not so much.

How about you? What inspires your work?