Brandon: Glad I caught you out here on your porch, Mrs. P-V. Do you have a few minutes?
Mrs. P-V: For you, Brandon, certainly.
Brandon: Our English class nominated you ‘Writer in Residence’.
Mrs. P-V: An honour … to be sure. Am I required to do anything?
Brandon: Nothing too demanding. You’ll be the resource person for the seven of us doing book reports on your writing.
Mrs. P-V: That’s nice, Brandon. I’ll make sure to give each of you some time…
Brandon: You wouldn’t have some time right now, would you? I’m reviewing The Shushan Citadel, and I brought a notebook … just in case.
Mrs. P-V: Have you read the book yet?
Brandon: Of course… suspense, intrigue, espionage, romance!
Mrs. P-V: Well then, have a seat.
Brandon: Let’s start with the genre. I love science fiction, but I understand this book is a work of speculative fiction. What exactly is that?
Mrs. P-V: It’s a sci-fi subgenre, and in the case of The Shushan Citadel, it’s a what-if look at the world following a global disaster known as the Desolation.
Brandon: Did you have to do a lot of research on comets and meteorites for the Desolation stuff?
Mrs. P-V: Every book I write is thoroughly researched because readers enjoy fiction infused with reality. Plus I like to surprise them with interesting tidbits of information.
Brandon: So the same would be true of harems and monasteries and citadels, I’d think.
Mrs. P-V: Most definitely.
Brandon: Do you enjoy doing research and, secondly, how do you go about it?
Mrs. P-V: I can honestly say I love researching. It’s the fun part of writing. How do I go about it? I read, visit places, take photos, talk to people.
Brandon: And then what?
Mrs. P-V: I daydream.
Brandon: It’s cool the way you use the Book of Esther as the foundation of your story. Who is your favorite character?
Mrs. P-V: Perhaps Abbess Brigid, but I’d enjoy spending time with several of the characters.
Brandon: I like how General Haz morphs into a tyrant, then builds a palace fortress and creates a harem.
Mrs. P-V: What do you think about the way he treats the Shushan population?
Brandon: Oh, he’s heartless for sure. He even includes students attending Shushan University and tourists stranded at Shusha World, his amazing theme park, as his so-called subjects.
Mrs. P-V: Right.
Brandon: But it’s good his neighbours at the monastery island and in the First Nations community aren’t defenseless.
Mrs. P-V: Did you pick up that the dún in Abbey Trádún and DúndirkaNoka means fort.
Brandon: I did, which brings me to the next question. Can you talk a bit about the Intelligence forces?
Mrs. P-V: The abbey and indigenous people had their own undercover arrangements prior to the Desolation.
Brandon: To protect themselves against terrorist attacks.
Mrs. P-V: Yes, and now the Jewish underground develops at the Citadel to thwart General Haz and his Governors. It’s inevitable for the three services to work together against a common enemy.
Brandon: Hadassah – who becomes Esther – is the perfect recruit to plant at the Citadel.
Mrs. P-V: Guess what, Brandon. I’ve just had a book trailer created for The Shushan Citadel.
Brandon: Awesome. When can I see it?
Mrs. P-V: I’ll be revealing it on Facebook and Twitter in another few days.
Brandon: Perfect timing for my book report.