Emily Molson:  As I mentioned last week, Gloria, our Book Club has chosen The Shushan Citadel for February.

Gloria Pearson-Vasey: I’m honoured, Em. Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to interview me.

EM:  Well, it’s not really an interview. I just wanted to discuss the book over coffee…

GP:  Close enough. Ask away.

EM:  Don’t be impatient. Dora Smith from the Book Club is joining us. Oh, there’s the doorbell now. Come in, Dora, and meet our author.

[Introductions et cetera]

Dora Smith:  Emily convinced us that, with February being Psychology Month in Canada, The Shushan Citadel would be a perfect read.

GP:  Well, The Shushan Citadel certainly brims with psychological issues, and it has characters such as Abbess Brigit, a psychiatrist, medicine woman, Dancing Crane, Sister Thea, herbist…

EM:  Then there’s General Haz. He’s a psychological study in himself.

DS:  I don’t usually read science fiction, but Emily says this is speculative fiction, a sci-fi subgenre.

GP:  Yes. It’s a what-if look at the world following a global disaster known as the Desolation.

EM:  Give us the story in brief, without spoilers, of course.

GP:  Three subterranean cities in the Great Lakes region were constructed to withstand terrorist attacks: Abbey Trádún, an island monastery, DúndirkaNoka, a First Nations community and ShushaCom, a communications corporation.

DS:  So where does the citadel come in?

GP:  When the Desolation strikes, ShushaCom quickly evolves into a fortress thanks to the ambition and greed of the CEO, George Schussmaan III …

EM: …who himself morphs into the tyrant, General Haz. But even though he’s bad, he’s handsome and charming, and as the story progresses, he creates a harem…

DS:  I thought I heard you cautioning Gloria about spoilers, Emily.

EM:  Sorry, Dora. I do get carried away. But if I hadn’t read the book, I wouldn’t have been inspired to recommend it to the club.

DS:  Whatever.

GP:  Using the Book of Esther as a model, the General selects members of the Shushan population to participate in his Persian Royalty lifestyle, going so far as to rename and reassign them.

EM:  …including students attending Shushan University and tourists visiting the theme park, Shusha World.

DS:  Emily!

EM:  Sorry.

DS:  Do the other cities get involved – the Abbey and the First Nations settlement?

GP:  Very much so, but I’ll leave all that for you to discover.

EM:  You’re going to love it, Dora. The Shushan Citadel has romance, suspense, intrigue, espionage…