Why Veronica Scott Wrote MISSION TO MAHJUNDAR
By paulinebairdjones on August 20, 2014
Thanks for having me back on the blog! I really do feel as if it’s an official part of publishing a new science fiction romance to visit you and explain why I wrote the book…
Mission to Mahjundar was sparked by three different elements. First, in college one of my best friends was an amazing woman named Cheryl, who had been blind since birth. I’d never known anyone who was blind, prior to meeting her, and Cheryl was awe inspiring, amazing in her refusal to accept any limits. She taught me many things, particularly how to use the other senses when one sense is denied. I always wanted to honor Cheryl by imbuing a character with her spirit and determination. I like to think she’d be pleased if she knew Princess Shalira was inspired at least in part from her example. Sadly, we drifted apart after college as life took us in different directions but she was one of those people you meet and never forget.
Second, one day I saw a photo of a windswept, abandoned temple, standing alone on a plateau, somewhere in the Middle East. The image remained with me and I pondered – as one does – what adventure would bring people to this remote location and what would happen to them there. What would they be seeking? Would they find whatever they needed? This became the temple of the Mahjundan Ten Gods, where Shalira must go on her wedding journey, to seek a key to her mother’s long-closed tomb. It also established in my mind that the planet Mahjundar was going to be loosely based on Middle Eastern themes. I’m not sure how much the completed novel carries that intent out since after all, the planet is not-Earth, but there was influence as I pictured the daily life Shalira might lead.
Third, and this was the key thing that put all the other elements together in my mind and set off the plot, I happened across a perfume ad in a magazine. The illustration was very dark in tone, with a woman in a purple-and-gold hooded cloak holding a beautiful crystal bottle that glowed golden. The light from the bottle illuminated her face. And I thought, that’s it! That’s Shalira inside the tomb. Then I needed to know who would be there with her…and of course my Sectors Special Forces soldier, Mike Varone, told me he would be, of course!
My other two published SFR novels are grounded in specific historical events – the sinking of Titanic and the Sepoy Rebellion – but this new one came together from bits and pieces that attracted the attention of my Muse. And of course the central figure of the princess was always there, inspired by Cheryl, just waiting for her tale to be told.
The story: An attempted assassination left Princess Shalira blind as a child and, now that she’s of marriageable age, her prospects are not good because of her disability. She’s resigned herself to an arranged marriage rather than face life under the thumb of her cold stepmother. But then she meets Mike Varone, a Sectors Special Forces officer sent to Mahjundar by the intergalactic government to retrieve a ship lost in her planet’s mountains. After Mike saves Shalira from another assassination attempt, she arranges for him to escort her across the planet to her future husband. She’s already falling hard for the deadly offworlder and knows she should deny herself the temptation he represents, but taking Mike along to protect her is the only way she’ll live long enough to escape her ruthless stepmother.
Mike, for his part, resists his growing attraction to the princess; he has a mission on this planet and rescuing the vulnerable but brave princess isn’t it. No matter how much he wishes it could be.
But what should have been an easy trek through Mahjundar’s peaceful lands swiftly turns into an ambush with danger around every turn. Shalira’s marriage begins to seem less like an arranged union and more like yet another planned assassination. The more they work together to survive, the harder it becomes to stop themselves from falling in love. Caught in a race against time, can they escape the hostile forces hunting them and make it off the planet?
Can there be a future for a simple soldier and an intergalactic princess?
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