Guest post about artistic vision by Robert Peacock and Sara Lawrence (Peacock) Cook

I have a special guest post today about artistic vision by Sara Lawrence (Peacock) Cook and Robert Peacock. In particular, it’s about their book, The Jinn and the Sword.

Bios:
Robert Peacock is an attorney/CPA who has served
as an Administrative Judge for the past thirty-two years, most recently on the
Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) and previously on the Corps of
Engineers Board of Contract Appeals prior to its merger with the ASBCA in 2000.
His inspiration for the book emanated from his study of Ottoman history and
culture and visits to the magnificent city of Istanbul when he was stationed in
Turkey as an Air Force JAG officer approximately forty years ago. Whenever
able, he spends his free time with his twin daughters, Mary and Anne, and his
grandchildren, Wilfred and Amelia.

Sara Lawrence (Peacock) Cook is a published
interior designer and retired from her thirty-year career as owner of an
interior design business and importer of antiques. Living in Europe for fifteen
years she traveled extensively for clients, business and pleasure, including a
visit to Istanbul, Turkey – the setting for the novel. A self-described
“collector of experiences and impressions,” she turned her creative efforts to
writing, using her vivid recollections to build scenes and characters in The
Jinn and the Sword, an intriguing, inspired plot and mesmerizing outline
developed by her brother and co-author, Robert. Joining forces, their shared
vision was to enhance the reader’s experience by illustrating the book in a
manner evocative of the manuscripts of the 16th century. Leaving behind the
hectic pace of suburban life, she recently relocated to the northern Great
Plains in search of a more Arcadian lifestyle. She has been married forty-five
years to John L. Cook, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and published author.
She credits Katelyn Cook and Rebecca Cook, daughters made family through
marriage to their sons, Zachary and Joshua, for their elevated artistic and
editorial contributions.

Guest post:
“It was the Year of the Prophet 937 in the city
of Istanbul – “The City of Intrigues” – where deep beneath the cobbled and
cacophonous streets, in the moments just after midnight, mysteries were
manifest and multiplying…”
It is
very easy for me to tell you what my
inspiration was for The Jinn and the Sword…my co-author (brother’s)
beautiful and evocative Prologue. It was mesmerizing and beautiful. He lived in
Turkey and while there, immersed himself in the culture and history. I
discovered, when visiting, that I was equally captivated by the mystery, the
sights, sounds, its magnificent history and architecture. Irresistible!
“Kemal loved the mesmerizing allure of the city
and knew it well. He spent any free time walking its streets and back alleys,
sharing stories and tea while mingling with the shopkeepers and studying the
city’s antiquity and architecture. A journey within itself, Istanbul always
revealed new discoveries with each visit. To walk from one side of the street
to the other was to walk across the centuries.”
The most
daunting (and intimidating) task was that evocative prose was a tough act to
follow – how could I do it justice? Rob, my big brother and judge, also
presented me with a tantalizing plot and outline – I could not refuse…I was all
in. The story became a passion, an obsession, for over a year. The plot
“thickened” as the characters developed and we endured the predictable, sibling
spats, sometimes even over a single word. Developing characters was a
challenge, requiring authenticity and intellectual honesty considering the
setting in the 16th century Ottoman court. Our new favorite mantra
became, “WWSS…What Would Suleyman Say?” After the initial outline and first
draft, we lived through another four re-writes before you knew it was time to
“let go”, still grasping after it as it left us…did it need just one more round of word-smithing?
Writing
was all-consuming and required a great deal of research to ensure the
historical accuracy of the timeline, but the ideas flowed. It’s as though the
characters spoke and told us just exactly where they needed to go and who they
needed to become. It’s a very personal relationship that a writer develops with
the characters. We were able to create colloquies that were not just pertinent
to the 16th century, but issues of relevance in our own time:
tolerance, diversity, slavery, the suspicions, superstitions and intolerance
surrounding religious orthodoxy and radicalism. Descriptions of the brutal
methods of castration perpetrated on innocent young boys, emasculating them
into valuable Harem eunuchs are also included and pertinent to resolution of
the mysteries. But at its heart is a story is beneficence and a story of love,
yearnings, and awakenings…emotions that touch the human spirit.
We give
you a gruesome beginning. A murderous Jinn stalks its victims in the cisterns
below the Topkapi Palace, but for what purpose? Does a horrific Shaitan,
mastermind of treacheries and treason against sultan and empire, perhaps
manipulate the Jinn to implement its diabolical plots, inflicting mayhem, as both
terrorize the Ottoman court? I have to laugh…Rob says he’s all the “violence”
and I’m all the “poetry and romance.” Is he kidding? Another sibling spat! I
invite you to read again, his beautiful Prologue – that’s some poetry! And I
worked hard to describe the violence of a murdering Jinn and the “apocalypse of
terror” that flooded over its victims…scared even me!
We wanted
our characters to “let you in” and actually feel the depth of their emotions.
Count Vincenzo Lupo de Venezia (Il Lupo, The
Wolf
), our protagonist, is a patrician nobleman, widower, renowned for his
erudition and considered the finest swordsman on the Continent. (Author note:
Rufus Sewell was my fantasy inspiration #sigh…) Il Lupo established a martial
arts academy in Venice where students from Europe and Asia attend, seeking
expert tutelage from the master. Although his striking good looks, righteousness
of character and intellect make Il Lupo a Renaissance celebrity and highly
attractive, his relationships with women have been ill-fated. Il Lupo’s 17-year
old daughter, Fran – Francesca – possesses equally remarkable martial arts and
analytical skills. Together they are a devastating and lethal tour de force. She
is a master of disguise, often as a boy; none suspecting someone of her
astounding martial arts talents to be a girl – especially in the 16th
century. At Suleyman’s behest, they travel to Istanbul and encounter
proliferating treacheries and assassination attempts within Suleyman’s royal
court, including a recent attempt on the life of Suleyman’s favored concubine,
Roxelana.
Turmoil
reigns. Il Lupo and Francesca are escorted by Kemal, Suleyman’s personal
bodyguard and captain of his elite palace guards, the Beyliks. Born a
Palestinian Jew, stolen from his home and enslaved during the Ottoman invasion
of Palestine, Kemal’s exceptional abilities elevated him within the Palace
school and quickly within the janissary corps to his trusted status. His public
persona of a brilliant, handsome and fearsome warrior is juxtaposed against
that of a sensitive poet, with deep and suppressed longings for his homeland. Working
closely together to solve the mysteries a romance, between Francesca and Kemal,
blossoms.
The story
is written over a period of five days and concludes “A Few Days Later.” It’s
packed with layers of mystery, treachery, betrayal and that wonderful budding
romance. Il Lupo and Francesca, along with Kemal, crush an assassination
attempt on the emperor and solve mysteries surrounding the theft of sacred
relics of Mohammed from the Topkapi Palace. Captivating characters abound.
Enter Gulbehar, Suleyman’s conniving wife, and her loyal eunuch Mehmed, the
callous and brutish Kizlar Agha, the
Keeper of the Girls. Ibrahim, Suleyman’s Grand Vizier, a coxcomb of great
influence, exhibiting a “perpetual hauteur of arrogance,” hovers throughout the
story. Suborning a cabal of malcontent janissaries to treasonous acts against
the sultan is Qais, Kemal’s second in command. Beautiful and seductive Lucia, a
woman of Venetian and Spanish heritage and speculated to be the lover of kings,
has her eyes set on Vincenzo Lupo. Mixed among them are Giovanni Contratini,
boastful and brash, Lucia’s cousin, wealthy merchant and the newly appointed
Venetian Ambassador to Suleyman’s court and the Marquis Antoine Valois, the
French ambassador and friend to Il Lupo. A favorite is the Russian envoy,
Gregor Zabatny, who is a refreshing contribution to the dull and obligatory
Renaissance “cocktail party” and Hassan Pahlavi, the Persian envoy to the
Ottoman court.

We wanted
to illustrate the book in color – evocative of the illuminated manuscripts and
calligraphy of the era – but the cost to the reader would have been
prohibitive. So, we illustrated in black and white, and hope our readers still
find the book beautiful. You can see our original intent, in all its glorious
color, if you follow us on Instagram #thejinnandthesword and soon on
www.thejinnandthesword.com. We so hope our readers are captivated by our tale,
“a few days worth of being written.” A sequel, perchance, awaits…our readers
will let us know.
With
gratitude and humbled hearts,
Sara Cook
(and for, Robert Peacock)
Links:

A few
quotes from the book:
“And thus, in this moment, Francesca Lupo
acquiesced, releasing herself to experience the utterly irresistible
metamorphosis of the girl into the woman…an exquisite transformation tenderly and
profoundly touching her embryonic soul.”
“The cruelties man inflicts upon fellow man are
endless and barbaric…These things are beyond comprehension and each brutal
bestial act creates an individual human tragedy, the consequences spilling into
many lives.”
“This is the man known for solving mysteries of
the imperial courts. He is very clever and often impassive. Be cautious. Vincenzo
Lupo is more a fox than a wolf.”
“Il Lupo cautioned, “Apparent demeanor is an
insufficient reason to rule anyone out at this time. Remember, we cannot
discard clues until we are completely certain they are of no value. We must
always open-mindedly interrogate our assumptions.”
“Blasphemous brushstrokes!”
“Abruptly the Jinn stiffened and sensing the
presence of the three onlookers, ceased in its demonic maiming. Turning its
head slowly and deliberately in their direction, it focused its minacious gaze
on them.”
“Make no mistake, Kemal. Yes, I am a woman, but
never underestimate me. I am a match for any man.”

5 thoughts on “Guest post about artistic vision by Robert Peacock and Sara Lawrence (Peacock) Cook

  1. Unknown says:

    Thank you, Lisa Haselton! We appreciate your gracious offer for this guest post. We are happy to address any questions or comments that your readers might have! Best regards, Sara Cook

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