An interview with Maliha from Beloved Pilgrim by Christopher Hawthorne Moss

Today we’re featuring a new novel release by author Christopher Hawthorne MossBeloved Pilgrim, from Harmony Ink Press.

The blurb for the novel is at the bottom of the post, but first, and interview with one of the main characters:  Maliha, the love interest of Elias.

Maliha is the daughter of a Turkish woman whose Greek lover had abandoned her.  She used to live in a Turkish village but married a Turkish man named Yukop in an arranged marriage.  Yukop has been away fighting alongside Kilij Arslan, and may be dead at this point.  Maliha lives with her son Taceetin and her harridan mother-in-law in the street of the laundresses outside the city gates of Constantinople.  There she is forced to work as an “entertainer” in Andronikos’ villa, serving the male guests of Andronikos.

Elias is enthralled by Maliha from the start but cannot reveal himself.  When Maliha is fired for not fitting in, Elias goes to fetch her back.   It is then that the kiss Maliha mentions below takes place.  Maliha follows Elias back to the villa she, where she persuades Elias’s squire to let her into his room while he is bathing.

The rest is, as they say, historical fiction.

Interview:

Did you realize that the man you knew as Elias had a female body?

Not until we kissed at my husband’s mother’s hut.  You see, I had raised my hands to push him back when I saw he meant to force me.  My palms pressed on his breast, or should I say breasts.  Even through his clothing I knew those were the breasts of a woman.  That’s why I kissed him back.

You prefer women?

Yes.  I discovered this when I was a younger girl and spent time with her at her home.  We got up to all sorts of mischief, including in her bed.  In my culture, such relations are overlooked, so long as we marry and have children.  I was married and knew I had not at all liked the rough handling of my husband.   When I felt Elias’s breasts it was such a wonderful memory

Then what did you think when Elias told you that he was a man in his heart and mind?  Did you believe him?

My Elias would never lie to me.

Could he not have been mistaken?

That is not something one makes mistakes about.  I trust him to tell the truth and also to know the truth.

So you were still attracted to him?

Oh yes, of course.  I loved his woman’s body, but I had the companionship of a man in the same person.  I have more than any woman such as I could ever hope for.  And he is a man inside, I know, but he is a wise and good man.  And he loves me and my little boy.

The Blurb for Beloved Pilgrim:

At the time of the earliest Crusades, young noblewoman Elisabeth longs to be the person she’s always known is hidden inside. When her twin brother perishes from a fever, Elisabeth takes his identity to live as a man, a knight. As Elias, he travels to the Holy Land, to adventure, passion, death, and a lesson that honor is sometimes found in unexpected places.

Elias must pass among knights and soldiers, survive furious battle, deadly privations, moral uncertainty, and treachery if he’ll have any chance of returning to his newfound love in the magnificent city of Constantinople.

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

2nd Edition

1st edition by Nan Hawthorne published by Shieldwall Books, February 2011

A computer game about a teenage girl coming to terms with her sexuality

I just finished playing an indie game from The Fullbright Company called Gone Home and it’s worth mentioning on this blog, because of the subject matter.  Basically, you (the main character — Katie) come home in the middle of the night from a trip to Europe.  You’ve been gone a year.  You discover the house locked up and nobody home, with an ominous note from your younger sister, Sam, stuck to the front door warning you not to tell anybody what you find inside.

As you make your way through the house, you discover more notes, pictures, receipts, music tapes, and sticky notes from your sister and your parents that eventually help you piece together what happened not only during the past year, but also during the years you were away at college.  The atmosphere is creepy and you keep expecting to find a corpse or something equally horrifying in one of the rooms.

I don’t want to give too much away, but what you find is basically a love story between Sam and her female best friend in high school, as they discover how they really feel about each other.  The parents are less than understanding, and there are problems at school, among other things trying to pull them apart.  There is a sense of foreboding as you wind your way through to uncover the final outcome, hidden behind the locked attic door….

This doesn’t really meet my definition of a game.  It’s interactive — you pick up things and examine them, and you uncover combinations to locked cabinets, and find keys to locked rooms — but you’re a ghost (figuratively) in the house.  You can’t change anything that’s happened.  You’re just uncovering it.  And you can’t affect the outcome of the “game.”

So it’s more of an interactive story.  This has sparked outrage among gamers, especially those delightfully misogynistic gamers who think the entire idea of Gone Home is stupid and pointless.  My favorite recurring quote is “It’s been done better.”

Really?  Where?

On the other hand, I’ve come across an accusation that the game is kind of a “bait and switch,” and that does have some validity.  I think the biggest problem is that everything is just too creepy.  The designers played that aspect up a lot and it builds expectations the game really doesn’t deliver on.  You stumble across journal entries about a ghost in the house, about the possibility that the previous owner went insane.  You find ouija boards and other occult paraphernalia.  The father seems to have been struggling with his writing career, and you wonder just how stable the guy was. All of these things lead you to expect some kind of horrific revelation, and… well, you might be disappointed in that regard.

However, as a story, I would still recommend the game.  It’s short, and people have pointed out that it probably isn’t worth $20 for the amount of game play.  So perhaps it would be good to wait for the price to drop.

You can purchase the game through Steam or the game website:  http://www.gonehomegame.com/