Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart - the brilliant professor from Bethel University - or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.



Friday, October 10, 2014

What Do People Read?

When it comes to books and reading, just what do people read?  I keep hearing that women read more than men. Thus, the popular women's books, like Romance, Chick Lit, and even women-targeted erotica. Every time I research publisher's websites, it's very common to find large sections that feature books with shirtless men on the covers. I've mentioned this before, because it seems ridiculous to me. I'm an artist, myself, although I never focused on book covers as my subject matter. Still, if I were to be a book cover artist, I would like to believe I could be more imaginative than to have shirtless or naked men on every single cover. Is that what draws a woman's interest to read a book? Shirtless men? I can't believe that. I just can't.

But whatever, the point is that women read books. More than men. That is something I do believe. Because most of the male friends I've had, in the past and even now, don't read books. Not even one. Not even if their life depended on it. Maybe one or two read books. One or two out of twenty. That's not a lot. But women? That figure would rise to ten or more. Significantly more. So... What does an author do? Write books that women would read. What else? I write books that women would read, but I don't target women as readers. So I don't write Romance, Chick Lit, or erotica for women. My books are action and suspense oriented. Yeah, there's some romance in them. In all of my books there's romance. Not erotica, though. Although in a couple the romance scenes do get a little steamy. But not too steamy. Nothing graphic. But I think women will like my books. Those women who have read them have told me that they like them. Some said they even "loved" them.

And why wouldn't they? There are strong female characters in all of my books. Even the Killer series. Samantha Jones, for instance, in Killer of Killers is a strong-willed police detective. Sure, she is beautiful. But who said a woman can't be both beautiful and strong? I can think of a lot of women in real life who were both beautiful and strong. In the sequel, Killer Eyes, the main antagonist, Ming Sang, is a very strong woman. She is evil, but she is very, very strong.

In The Vase, there are a couple of strong women. Mary Levin is an Israeli woman who works for Shin Bet. You don't work for Shin Bet, whether you're a man or a woman, unless you are strong. And in the John Dunn story, John Dunn's wife, Catherine Pierce, is a very strong woman. She had to be. Otherwise, how could she deal with 49 of her husband's other wives?

John Dunn is a Historical Fiction novel. I've heard women do read those kinds of books. And there is romance in there, with Dunn's fifty wives. Clearly I can't document all fifty of his romances, but I do touch on a few of them. The focus, however, is his first wife. Catherine Pierce.

But when it comes to what women read, I remember when a female friend asked me what I was going to write next. It was when I was planning the John Dunn story. I told her I was going to write the story of John Dunn. I explained he was the best friend to the Zulu king Cetshwayo, and how he had fifty African wives and a hundred and fifty children. She seemed taken aback by that. She countered with a suggestion. She suggested that I write instead about an African queen who had fifty husbands. It was like...really? I told her she could write that book.

Look, I said that the John Dunn story is based on REAL HISTORY. REAL LIFE. If you want to write some fantasy about a woman with fifty husbands, be my guest. But that's fantasy. John Dunn, and the African kings really did have fifty wives. EACH. Some had even more. Does that offend women? Maybe it does. And if it does, don't blame me. I've only got one wife. I've only ever had one wife. So let's move on, shall we? The point is that in this real life historical event, there was  real romance. Albeit with a lot of wives. That's not the point of the story. The Zulu wars are. And it's an exciting book. Can't wait to get back to it.

But first, I've got to finish revising and polishing Killer Eyes. Every time I get to that book, I'm reminded just how strong a woman can be. But the woman in Killer Eyes just happens to be evil. Now don't tell me women can't be evil. They sure can. And Ming Sang is one of them. Stay tuned. Killer Eyes should be out soon. I'll keep you posted.

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