The Dream of a Thousand Nights: Genesis

September 26, 2011

The Dream of a Thousand Nights” was inspired by a short story I co-authored with my friend and fellow author, Venona Keyes.  “The Prince and the Jinn” was about 6,000 words long, and was a middle-eastern take on the “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Carol” theme (what would the world be like if you weren’t around).  While the plots of “The Prince and the Jinn” and “The Dream of a Thousand Nights” are very different (there is no wife/princess in “Dream,” since the prince and the Jinn meet as young men), the feelings the stories evoke are similar and the dreams are the same.

In “The Prince and the Jinn,” the prince is still mourning the death of his beloved princess, years later.  Surrounded by a beautiful garden and the generous gifts of his people, his grief is so great that he wishes to die.  He bemoans the fact that he didn’t take his own life when the princess died.  He dreams at night of a lover with whom he is at peace and happy, but when he awakens in the morning, the lover is gone, and he is lonely once more.

Tamir, a male Jinn, appears before the prince and shows him what the world would be like if he had, indeed died.  The prince sees his sister unhappy because she is to be married to a man she does not love.  He sees his land and his people suffer because he is not there to protect them.  The Jinn grants him three wishes, and the prince wishes that his sister will marry the man she loves, that his kingdom will prosper, and that he will no longer be lonely. 

The Jinn tells the prince that he has no need to grant any of these wishes, because the prince himself will see to it that his sister finds happiness and his kingdom will prosper.  And when the prince challenges the Jinn to explain how he has no need to grant the last wish, the Jinn explains that he, himself, will remain at the prince’s side so that he will never be alone again.  The Jinn then explains that it was he who held the prince’s hand to stop the prince from plunging a dagger into his heart after his wife’s death, and that he was the prince’s dream lover.

Stay tuned for excerpts from both The Prince and the Jinn” and “The Dream of a Thousand Nights.” 



Excerpt: The Dream of a Thousand Nights, by Shira Anthony

September 26, 2011

Here’s a sneak preview of the first of the dreams in “The Dream of a Thousand Nights!”  By the way, if you read the excerpt from “The Prince and the Jinn,” from the previous posts, you’ll probably recognize some of this, too.

Excerpt from Chapter Two (pre-publication, final content may change):

A soft breeze blew through the palace windows. Neriah inhaled the delicate fragrance of orange blossoms and stretched his arms over his head. “Are you content?” came a man’s voice from beside him.

“I…,” Neriah hesitated, unsure of his response. Warm lips pressed against his own; the taste was familiar and intoxicating. He was not unhappy, and yet….

“What is it you desire?” his companion inquired.

Neriah hesitated once more.

“I can give you anything you wish. Diamonds, rubies, land, women….”

“I have no need for those things,” Neriah answered, claiming the lips that had spoken those words.

“What, then? What do you desire, beloved prince?”

“I want to know your name.”

Neriah sat up in his bed and shivered. It had been the same dream now for weeks, although he had come to wonder if he hadn’t dreamed it long before and forgotten it. Each time, he would awaken out of breath, aroused, and with an emptiness that pierced his soul to its core. He could remember the intense passion his dream companion had awakened in his soul, but he could never remember the face of the lover in his dreams, nor did he ever learn his lover’s name.

“My lord,” came a soft female voice from the entrance to his tent, interrupting his thoughts. “May I bring you something to drink? Should I send your manservant to help you dress?”

“I need nothing,” he replied as he dismissed the servant girl. “Leave me.” She bowed low and backed away from his tent.

It was always like this—those who knew who he was would insist on doing everything for him—and he despised it. Despite his royal blood, he was more than capable of attending to his own needs. Years of living by himself on the run from his father’s men had taught him to guard his independence. He knew that the servants found him cold and unreachable, but he cared little. His place was to lead them, not to befriend them. In truth, he had few people whom he could call “friends” at all, and he preferred it that way.

He stood up, covering his naked body in a silk shalvar kameez of the deepest blue, edged with delicate gold embroidery, and stepped into a pair of red velvet slippers. He walked over to a low-slung chair in the center of the tent and sat, frowning and rubbing his chin. He had heard the men return from their night raid on the enemy encampment. He would wait for a report before deciding what his next move should be.

“My lord.”

“You may enter, Uryon,” Neriah said with a nod to the captain of his personal guard.

A tall, broad-shouldered man with short, dark hair and bright green eyes walked into the tent, bowing low. He wore a deep purple shalvar kameez and a red scarf wrapped around his head. At his waist was a broad sword with an inlaid hilt, along with a small, jeweled dagger. Neriah himself had given Uryon the dagger as a symbol of the trust he placed in his officer, and Uryon had not disappointed him—Uryon had, countless times, protected Neriah at great peril to his own life. The prince knew that he was fortunate to have men such as Uryon under his command.

“We were successful,” Uryon announced as he kneeled before Neriah. “Sheik Karana’s men are either dead or have fled into the hills. We have brought back the spoils of the raid.”

“Spoils?” Neriah ventured a slight frown playing upon his lips. “I have no need for spoils.”

“Nevertheless,” Uryon replied, “there were several women taken in the battle, along with a male slave, and three chests of gold. Your Highness must—”

“Make arrangements for the women to be returned to their villages,” Neriah interrupted. “You may send them back with enough gold that they will be provided for.”

“And the slave?”

“Is he friend or foe? What are his origins?” Neriah asked. Another loyal, able-bodied soldier would be a welcome addition to their ranks. Several of Neriah’s best men had been won in battles with the enemy. He had earned their gratitude and their loyalty in freeing them.

“He won’t reveal from whence he comes,” Uryon replied. “He refuses to speak to anyone but you, Your Majesty.”

“He knows who I am?” Neriah asked, surprised at this turn of events. His identity as Neriah, the banished Crown Prince of Tazier, was a secret known only to his closest followers and loyal servants. To others, he was known as Sheva, a wealthy sheik who opposed the rule of the current King of Tazier.

“No,” Uryon explained, “but he will not speak unless it is to our leader, Lord Sheva.”

“A spy, then,” Neriah said, his face darkening, “perhaps in my father’s employ?”

“It is possible,” the other man replied, “although if he is a spy, he is a crafty one.”

“How so?” asked Neriah.

“He had been kept to pleasure his captors,” Uryon answered, looking uncomfortable now. “Or so the women have told us. They appeared”—Uryon hesitated for a moment—“quite jealous of his charms.”

Hope you liked that! 


The Dream of a Thousand Nights – Secrets of the Jinn

September 26, 2011

Before writing The Dream of a Thousand Nights and its precursor, “The Prince and the Jinn,” my only experience with Jinn (also “Djinn” or “Genies”) was from reading “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp” or watching reruns of “I Dream of Jeannie.”  Okay, so mostly fantasizing about Larry Hagman!  (Anyone still remember “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts?”)  So let me tell you what I’ve learned about the Jinn and their origins and about how I created the Jinn of “Dream.”

The Jinn in the short story that inspired “Dream,”  “The Prince and the Jinn,” which I co-authored with my friend and fellow author, Venona Keyes, was a pretty traditional one (well, except that he has a happily-ever-after at the prince’s side!).  Three wishes, a brass lamp — you know, the Aladdin myth.  But the history of the Jinn in Arab folklore and Islamic teachings is quite different from the Disney version.

In ancient middle-eastern teachings, Jinn are supernatural beings who occupy a world parallel to the one inhabited by men.  In the Islamic Qu’ran (the sacred text), the only two of Allah’s (God’s) creations that have free will are humans and Jinn.  There isn’t much in the Qu’ran about the Jinn, although the text explains that the Jinn are made of smokeless flame or “scorching fire.”  Jinn, like human beings, can be good, evil or somewhere in between.

The word “Jinn” comes from the Arabic root that means “to hide” or “to be hidden.”  The English word, “genie,” is derived from the Latin word, “genius,” which was a guardian spirit thought to protect every human from birth.  The French used the term “genie” as a translation of the Arabic “jinni” because it sounded similar.  The English adopted the French word and, viola:  “genie.”

There are many interpretations of the physical attributes of the Jinn.  Many portray the Jinn as having two different sexes, like humans.  The Jinn are often shown dressed wearing vests and sashes, with their long hair tied high up on their heads. According to various stories, Jinn could exist independently or be bound to any particular object (hence the “genie in a bottle” or “genie in a lamp” from folklore).

Archaeologists who study ancient Middle Eastern cultures often refer to any spirit which is less than an angel as a “jinni.”  Some traditions divided Jinn into three types: flying Jinn, Jinn who look like snakes and dogs, and those who wander ceaselessly.  The Jinn live in a civilization that resembles the human world, with kings, laws, weddings and other rituals.  Ancient scholars believed the Jinn to be treacherous and dishonest creatures.  Some people believed the Jinn could magically whisper into human souls and convince humans to submit to their evil desires. 

The Jinn in The Dream of a Thousand Nights resemble the Jinn of ancient tradition in many ways.  They appear human, tend to have long hair (and in the case of Tamir, wear their long hair tied in a high ponytail), and can be good, evil, or somewhere in between.  They are often reviled by humans for being fickle and untrustworthy.  The Jinn in “Dream” are created to serve and pleasure humans – that is the entire reason for their existence.  I loved the idea that Jinn are made of fire, which led me to think of them as overtly sensual and sexual creatures who are nearly irresistible to humans.  I also gave the Jinn a hierarchical society, with a Jinn regent to whom all the Jinn answer, just as the humans in the story answer to the King of Tazier.  And, most importantly, the Jinn are capable of love, even though they believe that to love a human is among the greatest of sins. “Dream” is a story about that love, and one Jinn’s punishment for loving a human more than himself.



Source: Wikipedia

The Dream of a Thousand Nights by Shira Anthony

September 26, 2011

Tamir will stop at nothing to see Neriah take his rightful throne, but will their love survive? The Dream of a Thousand Nights by Shira Anthony, available from Dreamspinner Press.

Neriah, the crown prince of Tazier, escapes his father’s deadly wrath with the help of a Jinn named Tamir. Knowing that the other Jinn would find and punish him for falling in love with a human, Tamir takes Neriah’s memories of their brief time together and leaves him with only a jade pendant as a token of his love. Tamir is then stripped of his powers and imprisoned for his crime.

Ten years later, Neriah is still on the run from the King’s assassins, but each night he dreams of a lover whose face he cannot see and whose name he does not know, but who fills his heart with peace. Tamir, freed at last from his prison cell, poses as a pleasure slave and offers to serve the prince. Although Neriah does not recognize Tamir, he falls in love with the powerless Jinn. But just when Tamir has earned Neriah’s trust, he is forced to betray it. There may be no hope of mending their broken relationship, but Tamir is determined to see Neriah on his rightful throne—even if it costs the Jinn his life.

Buy in eBook
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal
Length: Novella

Release Day: “The Dream of a Thousand Nights,” by Shira Anthony

September 26, 2011

It’s finally here!  Release day!  I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally see “The Dream of a Thousand Nights” on the Dreamspinner Press “New Releases” page!  It’s been a three-year journey from the first bit of inspiration to publication, and I’m so happy to see the finished product at last.  The editors here have been fabulous to work with, and, oh what a cover from Anne Cain!  I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect image to capture the essence of the story of Prince Neriah and the Jinn, Tamir.

Cover by Anne Cain

Throughout the day today, I’ll be posting excerpts and writing about the inspiration for “Dream”  under the “excerpts” and “virtual book signing” areas of the DSP blog.  I’ll also tell you a little bit about the origin of the Jinn (a.k.a. “genies” or “Djinn”) and how their myth has evolved since ancient times.  I’ll tell you about my own version of the Jinn in both “Dream” and its predecessor, “The Prince and the Jinn.”

I’ll also be letting you know what I’m currently working on, and about my next book, “Blue Notes,” which will be published late this year by Dreamspinner.  And of course, don’t forget to purchase and download your copy of “The Dream of a Thousand Nights” here on Dreamspinner Press! 

Feel free to ask me questions of comment on the blog entries – I’ll be checking in throughout the day!