Sunday, December 22, 2013

Kingdom of the Sun

Kingdom of the Sun, by Ariffa Bevin
Today I welcome author Ariffa Bevin to Spinning Pearls. Ariffa agreed to answer my curious questions about the intriguingly titled novel - The Kingdom of the Sun.

Q. "Kingdom of the Sun" is a splendid title for a book. How did you come up with it?

A. Out of all the questions that are asked about my book, I have to say that this one is my favorite. So, thank you for asking it! I came up with the title “Kingdom of the Sun” by thinking deeply about the book’s message and what I wanted the book itself to signify. The sun is an extremely significant theme in the novella for its representation of literal and figurative light, hope, and strength. 

You see, although Helena is the protagonist of the story, the book is really about the kingdom of Sooryan as it tries to regain all that was taken away from it in order to be seen as a country worthy of the name Sooryan, and I will leave it to my readers to decipher the true meaning of that word.

As an author, I want “Kingdom of the Sun” to be like the sun. I want it to not only tell the story of a nation fighting for truth, hope, honor, and happiness, but I want it to shed light on the unseen and ignored issues and perspectives of society and the world. I want my readers to feel the strength that comes from the sun in believing they have the strength to overcome anything. And like how the sun signifies hope, I want Kingdom of the Sun to represent the hope that change can and will happen for the better: in the world and in our own lives.

Q. Please tell us a bit about the story. 

A. I would love to! Set in the modern-day kingdom of Sooryan, Kingdom of the Sun tells the story about a nation that became successful based solely on education and its Scholars as the foundation. However, the story opens with Sooryan in economic, political, educational turmoil. In a kingdom where Scholars and education were once top priority, the Royals of the past and present years favor competition, status, and money more. And although Sooryan’s people and Scholars are well aware of the nation’s decline, Helena is the only one who truly sees what needs to be done and has the courage and strength to do it.

Q. You know those "if you like this author, you might also like this one" lists? Please tell us a couple of authors that fit in with you and your book.

A. Well, there are two authors that come to mind. The first is George Orwell and his novel 1984. Kingdom of the Sun possesses many of 1984’s characteristics like literary symbolism, rebellion, and most importantly, its story pertains very much to what is happening in today’s countries. The second author that I believe has a similar style to mine is Margaret Duras and her beautiful novella The Lover. What I enjoyed most about this book, besides the touching true story, is that Duras uses very simplistic sentence structure that is extremely powerful and dense at the same time. I tried to do the same with Kingdom of the Sun.

To learn more about Ariffa and Kingdom of the Sun, please visit the sites below:

Goodreads: Book page

Thank you, Ariffa! If anyone has comments or questions, I'm sure Ariffa will be happy to respond.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ascending the Spiral with Bob

I wanted to interview Bob Rich about his new book, Ascending Spiral, but since we've known one another a long time, I decided on a new approach. Here is what I asked him, and what he replied!

My Question:

I can interview you? Excellent. I could ask you questions, in the ordinary interview style, but I think I'll just go for one big question and it's THE big question. Your new book is called Ascending Spiral. Please suppose, for a moment, that it is an international best seller, fuelled by viral word-of-mouth marketing. What's the buzz? What do your readers take away from this book that prompts them to recommend it to others?

Bob's Response:

Thank you for the question, Sally... I think. I am not very good at blowing my own trumpet.

OK, first because it is entertaining. It’s a good read, and people have told me that once they start, they don’t want to put it down. It currently has 25 reviews, 17 of them 5 star, the rest 4 star. One reader posted a very critical review, but even he gave it 4 stars.
My publisher nominated “Ascending Spiral” for the Pushcart Prize because... well, because he enjoyed reading it.
Recently, a reader interviewed me (unusual, I know), and I posted the results at my brand new blog She told me she’d read it three times! No, not the interview, the book.

Second, because it is designed to change the world. I am a professional grandfather, and I love children. What kind of a future are they growing into? Let’s not worry about climate change for the moment, but there are many other things I don’t like.
We are in the middle of the sixth great extinction event of Earth’s history. Some of it is due to ocean acidification, but most is habitat destruction. Nearly half of over 7 billion people live in cities. Human structures now cover a significant area of what was once farmland, and before that part of nature. Add to this damage from mining, replacing rainforest with oil palms, land covered by transport infrastructure, and you can see that we are killing the natural world. And we are not apart from nature, but a part of it, and the beauty and diversity of life is a source of joy and wonder, as well as what keeps us alive.
A great advance of the 20th century over the 19th was the reduction of disparity between rich and poor. In most parts of the world, almost everyone could have a reasonably decent life. This is no longer the case. With the population explosion, there is less for everyone. And with a culture of greed, more and more ends up the exclusive property of fewer and fewer people.
Then there is pollution. We are poisoning ourselves, and every other living being. Combine this with all the radiation we have unleashed, and a chronically stressful lifestyle, and you have the epidemic of cancer that is rarely acknowledged, but is growing all the same. When I was young, cancer was an old person’s disease. Not any more. This is why one of my books is on cancer.

OK, enough gloom. The point is, I want to do something about it, and all my 15 books are tools for improving the world.
I could have written a nonfiction book advancing my philosophy -- but that would have only been read by people who already agree with me. Fiction is more effective at reaching people who are open to a change of viewpoint, but haven’t thought about the issues that have concerned me for over 40 years. So, by entertaining, I am recruiting: join my team!
I have diagnosed the problem: it is a culture of conflict and greed. The path to survival, to a decent, humane, equitable life for all of us, is culture change, to one of compassion and cooperation. This is what Ascending Spiral is about, and this is why I want it read by millions.

So, that's what Bob has to say when I corner him with an outrageous (for a modest man) suggestion. I found it fascinating and thought-provoking. Who wouldn't want his or her book to improve the world?
Below is a picture of Bob in one of his favourite roles, and below again, his bio.

Bob's Bio

Dr Bob Rich   is the author of 15 books, 4 of them award winners. He and his wife chose to live below the official Australian poverty level, and raised 3 wonderful children while doing so. This was not on welfare benefits, but by working part time, and replacing paid work with directly providing for their own needs. A byproduct was an interesting, meaningful, stimulating, contented life. You can read about the reason for this crazy behaviour in Bob’s essay ;. His motto for today’s world is, “Live simply so you may simply live.”

Okay, so that's Bob Rich and this is his new book. Thanks to everyone who visits Spinning Pearls. Please leave a comment. If you have any questions for Bob, I'm sure he'll answer them.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

THE STORY OF CHARMS Part 1 (Concerning Clovie)

In May 2013, overwhelmed as usual by work, I decided to start a new little project just for fun. It all started before that though, with the series The Fairies of Farholt, which I am developing with an illustrator. I thought it would be good if my young fae protagonists had signature necklaces or charms, which could possibly be marketed with the books. I looked on eBay for inspiration, searching specifically for four-leaved clover or shamrock charms for Clovie, the protagonist of the first book. I didn't find what I was looking for (they were all too big, too crude, too fancy or just too expensive) but I found a lot of wonderful charms- a much wider variety than I'd known existed. Right away, my brain concluded this was exactly what I needed for a project for my grandchildren... to read about that, tune in to the next installment of this blog-serial. (You can do that by subscribing to this blog. Don't worry... you can always unsub if I waffle on too much.)

In the meantime, here are some links to check out. (Please do!)
The Fairies of Farholt project is at  Yes I know... my son would click his tongue and tell me that url is too long. I tend to go for long descriptive urls, partly because they are intuitive and partly because the shorter simpler ones usually belong to someone else already! Here's the tinyurl version. which is just about as long as the other one. Hmmmm.

To see CHARMS, visit or,

The Charms project is out there now, but two other projects, KEEPSAKES and LUCKY DRAW are still open for contributors. If you're interested, pop along to KEEPSAKES or LUCKY DRAW Aha! Those are short! Short, I tell you! SHORT!