#BIR2011 – Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda

Posted December 11, 2011 by Stacey in Blog, Uncategorized / 8 Comments

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I enjoy a good historical fiction and books filled with action – Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda hits both those themes in a contemporary setting!  Dark Goddess is the is the sequel to Devil’s Kiss and continues Billy SanGreal’s adventures as a modern Knights Templar.

I picked this book for BIR because Sarwat has created an amazing world and story in these books and Dark Goddess topped Devil’s Kiss in it’s amazingness.  The story continues into Russia, expands the world building and brings in more myth and history.

You can read my full review of Dark Goddess HERE and I hope you go and check out both Devil’s Kiss and Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda.

To help celebrate Dark Goddess, we have 2 guest blogs from Sarwat talking about two subjects I’ve been wanting to have him talk about for a while.  So I hope you enjoy learning more about the Friday the 13th superstition and the Russian Bogatyrs!

The Friday the 13th superstition has its roots in massacre of the Knights Templar on October 13, 1307. The mystery behind this day is the basis for both Dark Goddess and Devil’s Kiss. Can you talk about how this historic fact played into your stories and how it impacted the modern Knights Templar in your story?

I love taking myth and history and weaving a story out of them. It’s far more fun to base stories on real events, real characters and then give them a supernatural twist. It’s nothing new, since Bram Stoker created Dracula out of a real Romanian prince, Vlad Tepes.

When I started Devil’s Kiss I wanted to ground as much of the backstory within the real world. The facts were this:

  • The Templars were believed to be heretics. One of the stories was that the worshipped a magical head, called Baphomet. They had dealings with the Assassins and were rich and powerful, they answered to no one but the Pope. And they had started as an order of nine men. 

Then, Friday 13th, 1307. All the Templars of France were arrested simultaneously. The grandmaster was burnt at the stake but when their treasury was open, it was found empty. To this day no-one knows what happened to it. One story is the Templar fleet snuck out of La Rochelle and some of the knights fled to England. That is the premise of my series. I pick up the Order, 700 years later, still in England, operating in secret, still guarding the few Templar Treasures they took out of France, before the Inquisition could get its hands on it.

As part of the blending of mythic and real, I gave the Templars the names of the Knighst of the Round Table. That’s for two reasons. The first is the Holy Grail myth is common to both the Arthurian tales and the Templar story, so I’ve combined them. Secondly, this is a mythic version of the real world, it’s not planet Earth was we know it. The ‘normal’ characters have ‘normal’ names but the main players have mythic names like SanGreal, Bors, Pelleas and Koshchey. It’s a conceit I wanted to play with as part of building an epic setting.

I think it adds depth and believability to a tale if the reader can connect aspects to the real world, not just history but locations as well. Devil’s Kiss is based in London. The locations are real, you can walk the same streets and visit Temple Church any day of the week.

London’s the ultimate gothic city. We’re talking about the place where Jack the Ripper worked, where Sherlock Holmes lived and where Dracula stalked. Why would I need to invent a fictional place when London has everything you could possibly want?

I’d also love to hear about the Russian research you did for Dark Goddess. I love the Bogatyrs, they have their own rich back story based on another mysterious tragedy.

The Bogatyrs were Russian Christian knights, very similar to the knights of the Round Table. I wanted to create a dark reflection of the Templars in Book 2, to show what might happen to the Templars if they compromised on their mission.

By taking the Bogatyr myth and giving it a modern twist I was able to tie them in with the Romanov dynasty, the mad monk Rasputin and the story that the Russian princess Anastasia survived the Bolshevik massacre and build a cohesive history leading from the middle ages to today. Much of it is backstory but there’s plenty there, that if you’re interested in, that you can look up yourselves.

The Bogatyrs are the Templars who’ve fallen off the straight and narrow. They show what happens if you take the easy way and that you forget power should come with responsibility and that to be a knight is to serve others, not yourself.

I’ve been a big fan of Russian mythology and history of over twenty years. The witch, Baba Yaga, has had a profound effect on me and there’s something very special about Russian Fairytales. Firstly, the heroines have guts. Vassilisa the Brave and Morovena are a million miles away from Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. I wanted to expand on that and while Devil’s Kiss was very masculine in nature with Billi being surrounded by men, I wanted Dark Goddess to have an equally powerful female energy.

I wanted to female version of the Templars, a female warrior organization. They would serve as a temptation, a sisterhood that Billi could join if she ever felt the need to leave the Templars. Now, at first I thought I’d have to make it up. That would have worked but would have weakened the story, since so much of it has been based on real history.

This is where the research took the story to an entirely new level. I found out the original Amazons had come from southern Russia. Burial sites had been discovered with tall, well-built women within, buried with armour, weapons and having died of wounds, clearly warriors. They were called the Polenitsy and thought to have been legendary, but as so often the case, these legends turned out to be based on fact.

There’s nothing more thrilling as a writer when your research throws up stuff like this. In one moment my entire story came alive.

Stacey

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