We're excited to welcome the author of Forbidden, Kimberley Griffiths Little, to Reading Lark today.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: I loved that this setting felt unique. How did you decide upon the time period and location?
Kimberley: Thank you for the compliment!
I’ve had a fascination with belly dance for decades (so mysterious and sensuous) and started reading about the roots of the dance—which made my fascination really ratchet up. I loved learning that it began millennia ago, was used in the women’s social world for exercise, childbirth, marriages, death—as well as for religious and spiritual worship.
Then I was shocked to discover how the dance was used in the goddess temples of Ashtoreth, Ishtar, Innana, etc. for sexual and fertility rites.
Of course, I took some belly dance classes and got hooked. So. Much. Fun. I love how this ancient dance is one that anybody can do, no matter your age or size. It’s great exercise (deceptively so!) and uses every part of your body, arms, torso and legs.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: Jayden is such a strong girl in spite of the gender roles in her society. What was your inspiration for her character?
Kimberley: I didn’t consciously set out to have Jayden question or challenge the gender roles in her society. Yes, from time memorial, girls have been betrothed to men they didn’t know, usually set up by their families.
Our tour guide in Jordan last year told us the fascinating story of his own arranged marriage, although he and the girl his family arranged for him were able to spend a year getting to know each other and visit each other while chaperoned. He told us that at any time the girl could say she wanted to back out. His arranged marriage did have some flexibility so times have changed – in some countries!
But in smaller towns or out far out in the desert from civilization, as well as in some of the less modern countries of Yemen, Afghanistan, etc a girl who flees a betrothed marriage, or runs away with another boy, is killed.
I started Forbidden by exploring a girl in that time period; what would her life be like, her family, her dreams, desires, heartaches, trials, hardships—all set against the backdrop of the ancient art form of belly dance.
I didn’t want to do a traditional love triangle. When I first began envisioning the story, Jayden was going to marry her betrothed, the prince of her tribe so she could please her family and help them financially.
But when Kadesh showed up with a mysterious secret and heritage, injured during the attack on his frankincense caravan, Jayden finds herself attracted to this kind and thoughtful boy. But Jayden knows her feelings are wrong due to her betrothal promise, and she becomes very conflicted.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: If this novel was a cupcake, what kind would it be?
Kimberley: A. For a cupcake set in that era: Cinnamon with a ginger lemon frosting B. For a cupcake that evokes the theme of the book: Decadent Devil’s Food with Rich Chocolate Frosting. :-)
Andrea @ Reading Lark: Why do you think forbidden romance appeals to readers?
Kimberley: There's something very delicious, sexy — and highly romantic — about a boy you can't have for one reason or another; whether he's the hot bad guy, or your family disapproves of him, or he belongs to someone else.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: It's a tradition to ask - What is your favorite bird?
Kimberley: Doves are beautiful because of their pure white downy feathers and the gentle sounds they make. I also love how they are associated with peace and purity.
Last spring I read a book by Alice Hoffman called THE DOVEKEEPERS. It’s set in 70 A.D. Israel about the Romans and the attack on the Jewish people hiding on Masada. It’s a gorgeous, devastating book. I was surprised when one of the characters is a temple priestess of Ashtoreth (just like in Forbidden!) I’d never encountered any mention of the Goddess temples or Ashtoreth in a novel before – and just a few months before FORBIDDEN was released.
Thank you so much for having me here on The Reading Lark!!
About the Author
Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico with her husband and their three sons. For such award-winning middle grade novels as When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, her writing has been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “characters painted in memorable detail” and “beautifully realized settings.” Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed on the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. You can visit her online at www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com.
About the Novel
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.