Note from Jess: Today we’re welcoming Kimberley Griffiths Little to the blog for a guest post about her debut, FORBIDDEN.
My love of all things ancient and Middle Eastern began more than 15 years ago with a fascination of belly dance. The dance is intriguing, mesmerizing, and mystical – and when I took lessons I was hooked! I even performed – and, as a mother with three teenage sons, that was a little scary. Anciently, girls learned the dance at their mother’s knees, using it for childbirth (early Lamaze!), betrothals, weddings and death.
Reading the history of belly dance led me to the dance’s roots that go back to our Neolithic heritage and the Mother Goddess—sexual fertility rites—culminating in the Goddess temples of Ashtoreth in Mesopotamia.
I was also researching the history of the Arabian horse and published several stories with Cricket magazine—which led me to the Frankincense Trail, Petra (Edomite Lands before it was Nabatean during the Roman Era), Bedouins, camel caravans, and the Empty Quarter.
My imagination began to *stalk* a girl from 1759 BC**, and the story of Jayden began to form, the girl of a poor desert family pressured to marry the prince of her tribe in order to save her family from ruin.
Of course, I had to use a mysterious boy wounded in a caravan raid, who lives in the frankincense lands where people would kill to find the location—because frankincense was worth more than gold.
There’s murder, blackmail, loss, and love, but at its heart FORBIDDEN is the story of a girl trying to stay alive as her family is torn apart. A girl who is trying to keep the promises she made to her mother on her death bed.
**I chose the year 1759 BC because King Hammurabi, eager to expand his Kingdom of Babylon laid siege to the city of Mari that year—and Jayden finds herself in the midst of the city’s turmoil when she goes there to find her missing sister.
Check out FORBIDDEN’S book trailer, which was filmed on location!
A little over a year ago I was traveling down the King’s Highway—the infamous road that was barely a trail thousands of years ago as frankincense caravans followed the ancient water wells.
Jordan is the heart of the Middle East, and once the pearl of the Assyrian Kingdom. It is a land of vast desert sands, punctuated with towering, rugged mountains. The red rock canyons and high cliffs of Petra created an ideal natural fortress for a city on the exotic spice trade route.
The country of Jordan is a mystical, magical place. Truly there were moments when I thought I’d stepped back in time, glimpsing spirits from the past as we explored their ruins and tombs and found shards of pottery, and coins.
I’d been working on the storyline of FORBIDDEN for nine years by that point, and Petra was a locale I used in a pivotal, very romantic scene.
The people of Petra still live in many of the 5,000 caves in the red rock valley. We got an invitation to return three months later for a wedding, invited by the young man who proudly showed us his cave that he’d decorated and prepared for his bride.
The exotic and beautiful women would stop me on the trails to trade their jewelry for whatever lipstick or makeup I had in my purse. One even went so far as to peer into my purse to see what I treasures I might have hidden in the pockets. I ran out of lipstick right away—too bad the rest was back in my hotel room. 🙂
In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.
Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.
With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.
Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.
About Kimberley Griffiths Little:
I grew up in San Francisco, but now live in an adobe house on the banks of the Rio Grande with my chaotic, messy family. I think I’ve drunk so much Land of Enchantment water that some of that ancient magic got into my blood and now spurts out my pencil—I mean ergonomic keyboard. I also tend to make way too many chocolate chip cookies when I’m revising.
I’ve stayed in a haunted castle tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland, sailed on the Seine in Paris, walked the beaches of Normandy, ridden a camel in Petra, sunbathed on Waikiki, shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria.