Today we’re featuring a new novel release by author Christopher Hawthorne Moss—Beloved 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.
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
1st edition by Nan Hawthorne published by Shieldwall Books, February 2011