Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Michelle Moran and Rebel Queen

From the internationally bestselling author of Nefertiti and Cleopatra's Daughter comes REBEL QUEEN, the breathtaking story of Queen Lakshmi - India's Joan of Arc - who against all odds defied the mighty British invasion to defend her beloved kingdom.  

Enter to win a signed copy at the end of this post!

I'm excited to welcome Michelle Moran and her latest book Rebel Queen which is set in India.  As usual, Michelle has done extensive research in the country and has come back with some interesting stories.  I'll let her take it away from here.

With every book I write, I discover something about the culture I'm researching which completely blows me away, often because it's so unusual and something I've never encountered before.  In the case of my book, REBEL QUEEN, set in India during the British invasion, the concept of Janam Kundlis struck a chord with me, particularly since Janam Kundlis very nearly played a role in my own life and my marriage to my husband, who is Indian.

Also known as an astrological chart, a Janam Kundli is made by a priest for each child in India.  No one is sure when the concept of a Janam Kundlis came to be, but as Vedic astrology is several thousand years old, it's not surprising that my protagonist's Janam Kundli would have looked similar to my husband's, even though they were born more than a hundred years apart.  A person's Janam
Kundlis includes the details of their birth-time, date, planetary alignments.  It also includes other things which aren't so common in the West, such as that person's probable future career and who they were in their most recent past life (in my husband's case, a yogi!).

Reading a person's natal chart is serious business.  Once a person's Janam Kundli is created, they will keep that document with them for life, producing it when it's time for marriage.  Even today, Janam Kundlis are used to make prospective matches between brides and grooms throughout India, where the majority of marriages are arranged.   And woe betide anyone whose Janam Kundlis declares them to be a manglik, or a bad-luck person.  If that's the case, as it was for the famous Bollywood actress and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai, one of two options are available.  You can either marry another manglik, thus cancelling out your bad-luck status, or you can hire a priest to conduct a variety of ceremonies that will make it possible to marry someone who isn't a manglik like yourself.  This last option, however, is only available if the non-manglik person's family finds the risk acceptable.  In Aishwarya Rai's case, her in-laws obviously felt the "risk" was worth it, and in 2007 she married a tree before she married her husband, thereby cancelling out her bad-luck in this way.

Why a tree?  Well, this was something I very nearly discovered myself when my own Janam Kundli was made.  Apparently, like Aishwarya Rai, I too am probably a manglik, meaning marriage for me would most likely end in the divorce or death of my spouse.  I say probably, because my Janam Kundli was done online.  The effect, however, was very nearly the same.  Major discussions took place as to whether I would need to marry a tree before the wedding could proceed, or whether my Janam Kundli should be discounted since I am not, after all, Indian, and my Janam Kundli hadn't "officially" been made by a priest.

In the end, it was decided that my husband should take the risk and go for it.  I never had to marry a tree or even choose among a variety of clay urns for my groom.  Either option, apparently, is acceptable, as it's believed that a person's manglik dose can be cancelled out if the manglik person's bad luck is spent on the first marriage.  Thus, the bride first marries a clay urn or a tree, then either breaks the clay urn or chops down her tree-husband in order to become a "widow" (in some places, the tree is allowed to survive).  After this, the second marriage is ready to proceed without a hitch.

There are varying interpretations of this ceremony, and even though it didn't end up affecting me, a person's Janam Kundli can alter their destiny, just as I describe in the beginning of REBEL QUEEN.  It's cultural gems like these which make researching historical fiction such a pleasure, and it's these type of details which I try to include in each of my books.  As a writer, my hope is that they pique the reader's interest along the way, and as a reader, they are the sort of facts which help ground me in another place and time.

Michelle is giving out a pair of bangles she's brought back from India and a signed hard cover copy of Rebel Queen to one lucky entrant.  The bangles are all unique and won't look exactly like the ones in the picture.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Leave a comment and you're entered to win.  One entry per.   Good luck everyone!  


Carol M said...

I would love to win the Rebel Queen!
I always enjoy Michelle's books! Thank you!

Nancy said...

Love this author; love colorful trinkets, thanks.

erin said...

I reeeeally want to read this :) thanks for the great spotlight and giveaway!

traveler said...

Thanks for your wonderful giveaway. Your blog is always a delight. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Michele Luker said...

THis looks like an amazing read...and love signed books...BONUS!!

Achsah said...

Would love to win the book and the bangles!

Violet said...

Well Aishwarya Rai getting married to a tree was a rumour and never confirmed but yes, it is known to happen mostly in rural areas.

I would be interested to read how Ms. Moran has incorporated all this in 'Rebel Queen'. Seems like it will be an exciting read, just like her previous books.

Jackie Phipps said...

I would love to win the Rebel Queen. Thank you for this great opportunity to win

bison61 said...

thanks love to read Rebel Queen and win the bangles

tiramisu392 (at)

Kimberly Mayberry said...

I want to read Rebel Queen so much! The mangles would just help set the mood, along with candles and incense I would burn while reading it! kbinmich @ yahoo DOT com Thank you for such an exotic giveaway!

joe hawk said...

Rebel Queen looks awesome would love to read sounds like a cool book to read.

catslady said...

She would be a new author for me but sounds exciting! Thanks.

Ryshia Kennie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryshia Kennie said...

Thanks everyone for participating! I wish you all could have won so for those of you who didn't win - check out Michelle Moran's generous consolation prize - signed bookplates. She is offering signed bookplates for everyone who entered the contest. Check it out at her website:

The winner of the signed hard copy of Rebel Queen and bangles is: bison61