Luki Belle will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
1. How did you choose your genre? What made you write this book?
Having been born and grown up in post-colonial countries, having been on the receiving end of hate, racism, and prejudice I wanted to explore a male character who was on the colonizing side who will be a military man, ruthless, arrogant, and prejudiced, to see what could compel such a man to have a change of heart. That was the initial inspiration for The Delicate Affair of Colonel Baquiste (TDACB), which morphed into a very, very complex novel once I started thinking more about it. It was a meditational journey for me that taught me that individuals, situations, and events are never absolutes. There is always the positive side which tends to be quieter, subtler, and more like a gentle nudge while the negative is the exact opposite.
Call it a means to self-heal with an aspiration to believe that it is possible to overcome prejudice if we recognize that in our human imperfections lie the opportunity for change and the power to choose towards a positive outcome. If we were perfect and absolute, change would not be possible, if we all put our anger out into the world it would be destructive. But, if we helped ourselves compassionately, we would inevitably help others positively. It all begins with self-healing and the means to do that is to learn to change our psychological masks by allowing ourselves to immerse in another person’s world, to view the world through a different lens, to take off, even if momentarily, any forced uniform and imposed roles and to disguise ourselves, if only to catch a glimpse of our own former self and to understand the world from a different perspective.
While writing TDACB I ended up discovering many other things that I experienced which were applicable to the meditational experience I was having with this novel. I address these in Question #2 below.
2. Writers write what they know and must observe the world. Are you a firstborn, middle, or last child and how does this shape your view of the world?
In conjunction with my response to Question #1, there were several personal experiences that spiritually and organically flowed into TDACB. Hence the reason for my meditational journey while writing this book.
I am technically an only child of my parents however I am in a family with other siblings who came from one of my parents’ prior marriages. Thus, I am the youngest and the only; all at the same time. This is such a great question because I do agree that writers must be good observers, almost like people and situational analysts. The fact that I was technically an only child, many years younger than my siblings through one of my parents, I had a very close relationship with one of my parents (who was not previously married), and I was surrounded by alpha adults for the most part of my growing up life. I received ample attention while I also had to be obedient to the four adults in my immediate family, all of whom had strong personalities. Therefore, there were times when I got exactly what I wanted (as the last child) and other times when I had to obey my family’s adults (being the youngest).
I also had to learn how to navigate my way with my older siblings, cleverly and charmingly. I had to quietly and keenly observe the four adults to carve out my place in a powerful family. I took this experience and applied it to Valstohl Baquiste (the Colonel), to Chamcham (the little Hastana boy at the Yervaan palace), and to Lady Tempaley (the adolescent Hastana at Daikalin city).
Speaking of strong relationships, I have always attracted strong personalities into my life’s journey (starting with those who were given to me biologically – my immediate and extended families). Everyone one of them taught me lessons (some not so good but critical lessons nevertheless). I have also been blessed with erudite mentors, people who uplifted me, saw in me what nobody did at that time, and who impacted my academic and professional lives positively. Colonel Valstohl Baquiste had a close relationship with his father and an interesting relationship with his mother Countess Rayaan Baquiste (no spoilers). Colonel Baquiste’s relationship with his Lieutenant Colonel, Brune Farmagash, plays an impactful role in the novel including the directive of Ambassador General Masim Tropart on the persona of disguise which the Colonel needs to embrace. I explore my experience with my mentors who saw in me something I never knew I had, near the end of TDACB (no spoilers). On the Hastana side, I have also displayed strong traditional, culture-rooted, and obedience-bound relationships between Jeshn Yervaan and his mother, between Chamcham and all the adults he must interact with and obey at the Yervaan palace, and between Lady Tempaley and her parents.
When speaking about traditional relationships, I brought my life’s experience of being from a and having lived in countries where people are bound by complex traditions, spiritual or religious practices, and defined by their deep-rooted cultural beliefs. I consciously and subconsciously observed the profound dynamics of such vibrant, colorful, culture-rich nations under post-colonial governance and military rule. I heard stories from my family circle, from those who experienced colonization and how it played into their traditional way of living, and how colonization impacted them both positively and not so positively. My life was also shaped by those members of my family who went through colonization and lived through the early days of the post-colonial order. These observations and experiences enriched and influenced my writings in TDACB. And from this came the delicate and tricky topic of assimilation during inevitable change – how much do you change, what do you retain, how do you decide and how do you measure the consequences of decisions? These are not easy questions when you are either unsure or uncertain of or resisting change. And I don’t make any statements in TDACB about assimilation because it is really defined by the circumstances and the people involved. As a reader of the novel, I hope you too will appreciate the difficult questions of how much to assimilate and when to question and even resist change.
Two last things. In the spirit of deciding, I emphasize in TDACB that you must choose, and the consequence of your choice is felt not just by you but also by those around you. Secondly, never lose your grit, to endure and survive. I was taught grit by all the strong and powerful people who came into my life, and they also taught me how to be accountable to myself when I choose a path, I am responsible for what I decide, and I am accountable for how I respond to decisions being made for me. Valstohl/Gulaan and Jeshn make choices that impact several characters who are then also compelled to choose. Both these men have grit and have endured tragic events and situations. I still find myself thinking about how I would choose if I were them.
3. Where is your favorite place to write?
In a quiet place, preferably within my apartment, by a window, on my writing desk which has several inspiring and motivational items on it, including a picture of my belated father and a picture of my parents when they got engaged.
4. How do you feel about “killing your darlings”, and what do you do with the “remains”?
So far in three novels that I have written and in the numerous short stories that I have written but not published (yet), I have never removed a character. BUT: I certainly have omitted plots that I worked hard, oh so very hard to create. What do I do with them? I keep them in a folder called “archives.”
5. You are introduced to your favorite author. Who is it, and what is that one burning question you must ask them?
Since the question ends with a plural “them” I am assuming I can mention the names of more than one author. I have five favorites, and have the same burning question for all of them “How in the world could you come up with such fine detail in describing scenes and plots? Surely none of you ever experienced all of that first-hand, wow how did you manage to write with such complex accuracy?”
And my favorite authors are, in no particular order – Rabindranath Tagore, Enid Blyton, Leo Tolstoy, Satyajit Ray, and Patrick Suskind.
6. Inquiring minds want to know…tell your readers something about you that no one knows.
Ha! My first story was all characters and no plot! My mother asked me one afternoon when I was about six or seven years old, right before my nap, while I was sitting on her bed, in my parents’ fully furnished bedroom, to tell her a story. I looked around and being the little girl that I was I eyed my mother’s dresser and said “There was once a powder, and a cream, and a comb sitting beside two lipsticks and one perfume. Story finish!”
7. You are stranded on a deserted island with only a backpack for company. What three items are in your survival pack?
Aladdin’s lamp, my writing laptop, a swimsuit
8. If you could have one superpower in your existence, what would it be?
The ability to go into the world of any of my stories and to return, at will, whenever.
9. Favorite Snack?
A Blueberry Banana Pecan muffin.
10. Indy 500 – Do you know how to get where you are going, or do you drive the speed limit?
Can I say both? 😊 I usually see a scene in my mind, something random or I will see something that will inspire a random scene in my mind. I ignore it until it keeps nagging me. Then I start scribbling to dabble and play with the scene to see what comes of it. Often it fizzles out and I abandon that inspiration. Other times I get very excited, and ideas start coming. I will continue writing until I realize that I must develop this. Then I go into the painful reflection period, where I have isolated characters, scenes, plots, or one of those things or a few of those things and I am trying to build something out of it. I call it painful reflection because I basically need to wait for days, weeks, or months for me to find enough material to come up with the outline. With The Delicate Affair of Colonel Baquiste the reflection period was over two months. During this time, I just must write down whatever comes into my mind in terms of characters, roles, events, and actions but none of it is nicely connected. There is really no aha moment though because even when I create the outline and start filling in the content, I invariably arrive at a juncture where things either crisscross (don’t merge nicely) or are going in parallel and I cannot connect things. So, it is more like taking 10 steps forward and 6 steps back even when I start filling in the outline.
The Delicate Affair of Colonel Baquiste
by Luki Belle
GENRE: Adult Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Paranormal Suspense, Military Thriller
The setting: two fictitious nations, Hastan and Llehstanz, in a past imaginary era of colonization.
The Llehstanz Monarchy won its final battle over Hastan to colonize the nation after years of war. The battlefield charge was led by a reputable, young, ruthless, and handsome Colonel Valstohl Baquiste. Highly skilled but equally arrogant, he holds prejudice against the people of Hastan. Tragically, Colonel Baquiste was unexpectedly attacked during the last battle leaving him physically disabled. Realizing his military life is over, the embittered Colonel Baquiste awaits his dismissal to return to Llehstanz. However, he is offered a second chance for victory.
Colonel Baquiste is called back to military duty on a secret mission. He must go alone in disguise to capture elusive thugs terrorizing the Llehstanzite regiment. In accepting the mission, Baquiste realizes he is no longer fighting an enemy on a battleground when he travels to stay at the palace of renowned Southern Hastana landowner, Sir Bojeshnomaan Yervaan. Yervaans’ sinister nature ensnares Baquiste while the delicate assignment compels him to confront his tragic past and his prejudice against Hastanas. If the ambitious Colonel wants victory, it will require him to use not just his grit but also his heart.
I would take your place if you ordered me Valstohl. You still have five hours to get on that ship and go home. Let Masim clean up this mess on his own reputation, this is not your problem. And if you fail then he will just find another officer and keep trying. Your life is not worth this! Go home, start a family, you are the only Baquiste heir. Don’t take this mission!
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Luki Belle works in the media industry. Storytelling was a fixture from childhood when she would listen to stories told by her grandparents, parents, sisters, and cousins who would read to her from diverse cultural fiction books. Growing up, Luki was fortunate to live in various parts of the world and experience beautiful cultures. During this time, she embraced and appreciated diversity among people while recognizing through love, overcoming pain, or grief, one can truly bond with others leading to unimaginable positive outcomes.