Thursday, December 13, 2012

Book Club Bash: "Shadow" by Pavarti K. Tyler Interview

Recai Osman: Muslim, philosopher, billionaire and Superhero?

Controversial and daring, Shadow on the Wall details the transformation of Recai Osman from complicated man to Superhero. Forced to witness the cruelty of the Morality Police in his home city of Elih, Turkey, Recai is called upon by the power of the desert to be the vehicle of change. Does he have the strength to answer Allah’s call or will his dark past and self doubt stand in his way?

Pulling on his faith in Allah, the friendship of a Jewish father-figure and a deeply held belief that his people deserve better, Recai Osman must become The SandStorm.

In the tradition of books by Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie, Shadow on the Wall tackles issues of religion, gender, corruption and the basic human condition. Beautiful and challenging, this is not a book to miss.

The Reviews are in!

Ø      Winner of the General Fiction/Novel Category of the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
Ø      Winner in the Fiction: Multicultural category for The 2012 USA Best Book Awards!
Ø      Honorable Mention in the Mainstream/Literary Fiction category of the 20th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

I received a copy of Pavarti K Tyler‘s new book entitled “Shadow on the Wall” to review. What I will say to you is this. Buy it. Read it. It was wonderful. Not only was it a page turner that I read in one sitting (something I have not done in a few years), the story lines were well constructed and the dots all amazingly connected.  Well done! ~ Dr Naif Al-Mutawa of

Shadow on the Wall is a complex, intense story that might not be for everyone, but it's an important story that promotes cultural awareness. If you like multi-cultural fiction, this would be a great book for you. […] I was surprised to learn after reading the book that the author is not from the Middle East, which is a testament to how thoughtfully and thoroughly she conducted her research. This is a well written and produced digital book. Tyler is doing everything right as an independent author. Shadow on the Wall is a fine first effort for what should be a successful book series. ~ This book was reviewed as part of the Wise Bear Digital Book Awards competition. Entry fees associated with the contest are administrative in nature and do not influence our honest, unbiased book reviews.

From the moment I read the first sentence, I could not stop until I finished reading. As an Arab Muslim, I found it refreshing, to finally have someone sharing my cultural background to not be a "terrorist", but be an actual "hero". The imperfections of his character are what made him believable to me. We are not perfect, no one is, but he took his imperfections & became a hero for the people, instead of a suicide bomber. If anything, I see him as a metaphor for redemption, I am extremely excited to follow these Chronicles. I have always used to say that Batman was my favorite superhero, I have no doubt from this point on, my #1 answer will be "The SandStorm". ~ Mosno Al-Moseeki

Purchase Links:

About the Author
Pavarti K Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway.

Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry several international law firms. She now operates her own accounting firm in the Washington DC area, where she lives with her husband, two daughters and two terrible dogs. When not preparing taxes, she is busy working as the Director of Marketing at Novel Publicity or penning her next novel.


Knock. Just one solid sound.

Recai sat up too quickly and fell back against his mattress gasping as Rebekah stuck her head into his small room, her face creased with worry and fear.

“Cover yourself and stay silent,” she whispered before closing the door and rushing back into the living room to retrieve her burqa and open the door. Recai heard the movement of the heavy fabric she wore on top of her house dress as she moved across the room to greet their visitor. He wondered if she had retrieved her father’s gun which he’d overheard Hasad say was under the couch in the living room.

Before hiding beneath the thin sheet that covered him, he reached down and pulled the rug from the floor and threw it across his legs. He covered his head and melted against the wall with the pillow on top of his upper body. Feeling foolish, Recai laid there, wishing he had his ID, his phone, anything to help bribe his way out of this situation if it was indeed the RTK at the door.

Perhaps it’s just a neighbor, he thought. A neighbor come to ask after Rebekah’s father’s health or to borrow some salt. His attempt at rationalizing the unexpected visit did not quell his fears. The RTK made a habit of performing home inspections, especially if they suspected a woman alone. It wasn’t a safe time for anyone under the jurisdiction of Mayor Yilmaz.

Rebekah’s voice from the front room was soft and gentle. Recai could not make out the words but he managed to hear the sound of another voice. Was it a man? What man would she let into her home, knowing he was back here and her father away? Only one she could not turn away. Recai squeezed his eyes shut and prayed to Allah that it was her Rabbi, come to check on her.

“ . . . Only a storeroom, my father sleeps back here with the supplies and sometimes the animals so I can have the proper privacy a woman should be afforded,” Recai heard her say.

Rebekah’s voice was right outside the door to his room. She remained calm, not a hint of fear betrayed her. Few were able to handle themselves as coolly as she sounded. Recai prayed her strength would be enough.

They were in trouble. The only men who would feel at liberty to explore a woman’s home when she was alone were the RTK and their morality police. No one else possessed the sheer hypocritical audacity. And to come all the way out here, to this nothing village without even a paved road or proper mosque. Recai had the fleeting thought that perhaps this was not about Rebekah but about him and however he had ended up in the desert on the brink of death.

The door swung open abruptly, startling Recai despite his knowing it would happen. He was as covered as was feasible. He willed himself to fade into the shadows of the small room and tried not to breathe. In’shallah this would all be over soon.

Q&A with Pavarti K Tyler
Q: Shadow on the Wall is a very ambitious work. With what parts of the writing process did you struggle?
A: Shadow flowed very naturally for me. The relationships and characters made sense from the very beginning. However, the subject matter I wanted to tackle is tricky. I was advised by a number of people to write a different story or write it a different way. But to shy away from the authenticity of my characters just because it was uncomfortable seemed dishonest. I owed them more than that. So the process of staying true to the story I needed to tell despite a publishing and cultural climate which was constantly telling me to sanitize it was extremely difficult.

Q: What inspired you to write such a heavy story?
A: I certainly hope those who read Shadow on the Wall will enjoy the story, but I wrote this story not only to entertain but to inspire examination of the world around us. Our civilization is at a breaking point. People are taking sides and oppression is closing in on all of us. From religion to politics to the general cultural climate it seems everyone is on high alert. In my experience though, people – average, everyday people – are not so different from each other. Perhaps writing such a dark story is my call to action; this is the nightmare waiting for us at the end of the tunnel. What will it take for each of us to stand up for what we believe in? Recai has a calling, a mission. He is given his path. We are not. When faced with a choice between oppression and freedom, between standing up for someone else or sitting back and watching the sky fall, what will you do? Will you choose to live like Maryam, seeing the good in people and finding a way to make the world better? I hope so.

Q: What was the research process like for this novel?
A: The research for Shadow was intense. I've done this kind of research for other authors and playwrights before but never for myself. The process of taking that research and reorganizing it internally so the details of a culture can be conveyed without sounding like a lecture was the most difficult part. Since I'm neither Turkish, Kurdish nor Muslim there were a lot of small details requiring research. I have studied religion extensively and being a bit of a superhero aficionado that aspect of the book was less of a challenge. My training as a dramaturge prepared me for this kind of research but nothing compares to the experience of so completely stepping outside of myself into the shoes of not only another person but another culture.

Q: Why did you choose to set Shadow on the Wall in Turkey?
A: Elih, Turkey is a real place, although it is nothing like the fictional city I created. When I set out to write a story set in the Middle East, I looked at maps and wanted somewhere ripe with history and culture but not in the current crosshairs. Turkey is positioned between Europe and the Middle East, populated by Muslims, Jews and Christians and has a historical conflict between the Turks, Arabs and Kurds living there. It was the ideal location.

While Shadow touches on issues relevant in the world today, I didn't want to write another post 9-11 story about the Taliban or al-Qaeda. Turkey was a good solution because it is rich in culture, plus Elih is the Kurdish name for the real city of Batman, Turkey. And when writing a superhero story, how could I resist setting it in Batman!

Q: Did your own religious views or upbringing contribute to your choice of religions featured in this novel? Why didn't Christianity make the list?
A: My religious views most definitely played a part in my choice to write this story. As a Unitarian Universalist I believe that each person has the right to find their own path to God. While we embrace all religions the first tenant of UUism is that we affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. When I look around me and see the increasing number of hate crimes, women forced to both cover and uncover against their will, the fear mongering and profiling that occurs in the political arena internationally and the general rise of Islamaphobia, my own beliefs demanded that I say something.

Christianity only played a periphery role in Shadow on the Wall as it wasn't appropriate in the plot to include at this point. However, in Prisoners of the Wind, book 2 of The SandStorm Chronicles, Christianity will play a more prevalent role.

Q: Which character do you relate to most? Which character was hardest to write?
A: Of all the characters I'm most drawn to Darya. Her story is so tragic but I can see how the circumstances of her life took her down that path. I imagine being in her circumstance and I get frustrated for her; to be so smart and capable, to have such ambition and no way to express it, plus the privilege she has adds an extra layer of confinement. I don't mean to imply this is the case for all women in Muslim countries. Maryam is an example of that! However, were I Darya, I think it would be easy to become angry and bitter. Taken to the extreme I can even see how that could drive a person a little insane.

As for the most difficult, Recai took me a long time to wrap my brain around. Other characters shone brightly in my mind, leading me through their stories and teaching me about themselves. Recai, however, much like in the book, was more elusive. Because he doesn't have a clear sense of himself or who he wants to be, it was difficult to convey him as a three dimensional character instead of just a big whiner. Thanks to some amazing advice from friends and my brilliant editor, I think he has come into his own, and by the end of the book we all have a clearer understanding of who he is.

Q: There is a strong focus on women's issues in Shadow. Would you consider this a feminist book?
A: No. I'm not interested in telling the story of one gender over the other. I think the situation for women in Shadow is as much of a concern and issue for the men. As with any conflict, there are two sides. Darya is a woman who despises women for their weakness. If anything she's the biggest misogynist of the entire book. This isn't a book about men and women; that is a vehicle through which we explore ideas of power and corruption.

Q: There are some similarities to Batman in Recai's character. Was this on purpose? Did you include traits from any other superheroes in the novel?
A: Certainly Shadow on the Wall is reminiscent of the Batman mythos. The Bruce Wayne/Batman dichotomy is my favorite superhero story. While Recai doesn't have the same back story as Bruce Wayne, the creation of his character did happen as an homage to Batman. The archetype of the anti-hero or the resistant savior is extremely appealing to me as a storyteller. Recai's internal conflict and inability to reconcile his own insecurities and doubt with the demands of his faith pulled me in and kept his story going far past the limits of Batman

Q: Why did you choose to describe violent scenes in vivid details rather than simply letting it remain implied? Are you concerned you will lose any of your potential audience because of the graphic nature of some of the scenes?
A: We do not live in a bubble. Life is messy and painful and full of awful things. In the beginning of the story Recai really has no concept of this. His experience of Rebekah's rape and murder is cataclysmic. In order for us to follow along with his evolution and struggle we have to see what he sees and feel what he feels. If that feeling was revulsion, anger, pain, outrage, so be it. The reader must feel it too. It is certainly possible that some readers will turn away from this. I understand that. However, the evil of the oppression is in many ways an additional character who cannot be sanitized or avoided. In order to truly understand the evolution of Recai, Darya, Maryam, Isik, Hasad, Fahri, Sabiha and Abdullah, you must understand how deeply demented their world has become.

Q: What type of reader will most enjoy Shadow on the Wall? What type would most benefit from reading it?
A: This is a novel written for adults. It is not intended for children or teenagers; both thematically and because of the explicit content. However, there is a universal appeal to the characters. As much as you may dislike Isik and Darya, they are relatable. Their circumstances are untenable and at a certain pressure point all of us will break. The question is will you heed the call of the desert or burn?

Q: There are so many life lessons woven into the novel, what do you hope people will gain from reading Shadow on the Wall?
A: My hope is that people will read Shadow and see that we are not so different. No matter what culture, what religion, what gender we may be, the reality is: life is hard. We all need a hero and we all need someone who will believe in us even when we don't believe in ourselves. So the next time you see a woman in the grocery store with a scarf on her head, don't ignore her, don't look away, instead smile and say hello. She may have something to teach you.

Enter the giveaway for this event here.


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