23 February 2012

My novel: Kings of Persia (teaser)

I'm taking BYU's Creative Writing 318 (speculative fiction) from bestselling fantasy author Brandon Sanderson. (He was selected to finish the Wheel of Time after Robert Jordan passed away without having wrapped up the series at book 12. Brandon is writing three new novels to tie up all the loose ends.) By the way, he's critiquing my work for the first time tonight, and it's kind of intimidating.

In case you haven't seen it yet, this (above) is the "teaser cover" for my novel Kings of Persia. I'm writing it for Brandon's class, and I'm currently 30,000 words into it (about 37% of my 80,000 word goal).

The idea started in 2010 when I saw Prince of Persia and was so horribly let down by the cheesy, unbelievability of the whole thing. I saw huge potential in it, but none of it was realized. (At least for me. And sorry to anyone who loves that movie—and I know there are lots of you. But Hollywood's never made a decent video-game movie, so this shouldn't be a surprise.)

After watching the movie, I wrote this in my story-ideas journal:
Prince of Persia. Man, that story was so intriguing to me. I love the little I know about the game plots. And the idea of a thief/parkour man—ah, I love it. But, man, the movie sucked. Sucky, sucky plot. I would like to pull in all the romantic Persian ideas from my imagination and write my own story.
Last year I had the goal of reading the entire Old Testament, which I'd never done before. When I came across the part where Judah and Persia collided (Persia was taking over the world), I jotted down one more paragraph (yes, I know it's incoherent):
18 Mar 2011 - I got this idea back when I watched the movie Prince of Persia, that I wanted to rewrite it. On this date, I decided it would be cool to cross it over with the OT. it’s about a young man who’s the son of a jew, but whose mother was persian. that’s bad for him. the jews are in bondage to the kings of persia. jewish father, persian wife, unwanted son. building temple. artaxerxes. hanani. susa chief city. nehemiah 1. i was the king's cupbearer.
That's my character's name in there too: Hanani. But that's really all I had to go on. It's taken quite a leap from that point. (Here's a little behind-the-scenes for you: Shadrach—the one who was cast with his brothers into the fiery furnace—was a Jew. His Persian name was Shadrach. His Jewish name was Hananiah.)

I've tried to do a lot more research than they did in the games or movies. (The culture, I'm finding out, is so rich. Much deeper than leather vests and plastic daggers. I just wish I had a whole year to devote to research instead of a few minutes here and there.) I'm trying to bring in some tenets of their religion, Zoroastrianism, as well as some of their mythology and epic poetry.

Right now Hanani is stuck in a very dark and depressing place, and I can't seem to get him out. (Man, I love writing.)

If you could customize this novel to your own tastes, what would you put in it?

Also, if you loved the Prince of Persia movie, what did you love about it? 

Thanks for you input!

— J

UPDATE: Okay. My story needs A LOT of work. And this: 

"I love the idea of doing an ancient Persian fantasy. It's well worth doing." —Brandon Sanderson


  1. Give me or my mom a call...as former history teacher and Scriptorian, between us, we moght be able to give you some insights into Persia or the old testament times when Persia was a problem for the jews....could save you some time. Give us a call at 928.503.2228
    Heidi and Aunt Dixie

  2. I liked Prince of Persia... no, wait, I just like Jake Gyllenhaal (interestingly enough, he's a jew, I think).


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— J