Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Origin of The Princes Of The Golden Cage

As you know I have a novel coming out in less than a month. As such, I am very busy promoting it and speaking about the novel with as many people as I can. The two questions I am being asked about the most are: what’s the inspiration behind the story, and was it inspired from the Arabian Nights?

Well, THE PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE wasn’t inspired by the Arabian Nights as most people seem inclined to believe—for good reason, because this story does possess the exotic flavour of those tales. No. In reality, the story was inspired by true fact.

True fact: The Kafes, which literally means “the cage” in Turkish, really existed. Seriously. Those princely chambers/cells are located in the Topkapi palace in Istanbul and are visited by thousands of tourists every year.

In the early history of the Ottoman Empire, the Sultans’ eldest sons weren’t automatically destined to the throne, instead the Prince who had managed to prove himself the most apt to govern in the eyes of his father was chosen as the next ruler. Needless to say, that made for constant warring among the Princes, which threatened the stability of the country. The Kafes was then instituted as a solution. Although locking the Princes into one section of the palace might have solved one problem, it created another: the sultans that resulted from the cage were often paranoid and lived in the constant fear of a coup. Most proved to be poor rulers. Later, the Ottoman succession rule was changed to a “rule of elderness” and the Kafes was abolished.

So now you all know the inspiration behind THE PRINCES. From this historical treasure-trove, I plotted a mystery involving magic and mythical creatures set in a fictional world. However, many of the cultural details peppering the story are true: the Sultan’s silver-soled shoes, many of the rules of the harem, to name only a few. I also used some Turkish words in the book. I love mixing the real with the fictitious. One of the wonderful things about writing fiction is the freedom to do just that.

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