Dedra L. Stevenson, author of the acclaimed trilogy, The Hakima’s Tale.
Creating a ‘Whole New World” as a Fantasy Fiction Author
My name is Dedra L. Stevenson, and I’m a multi-genre author and an emerging filmmaker. My books cover Courtroom Drama, Horror, Children’s stories, and even the Culinary Arts, but it was my greatest love, Fantasy Fiction, that started everything for me.
The Hakima’s Tale: The Revenge of the Blue Jinniwas my first book, one that took me into another world and inspired me to create characters unlike any that the world has ever seen, including a villain that you can hate while admitting that he makes sense sometimes.
Coming up with the character of Phoenix was a really fun challenge. At that time, the Harry Potter books were really taking off, so I didn’t want to make my protagonist a boy. I really believed in my heart that we needed a girl to save the world and fight the forces of darkness for a change. Also, why should the priests have all the fun? In the Middle East, we really wanted to have the chance to chase away something sinister, using our ways, as told by Arabic folklore.
Although the famous collection of stories, 1001 Arabian Nights, isn’t at all appropriate for kids, it does give us an idea of how much of a role the Jinn play in Arabic folklore. For those in the Western world, let me just remind you that the Jinn are not as Disney has portrayed. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m a huge fan of Disney’s, Aladdin!
However, the Blue Jinni in the beloved Disney movie is nothing like what a Jinni would be portrayed as by an Arab. The Jinn (plural) are beings made of smokeless fire (as described by the Holy Koran) and they reside in another dimension, but can enter our dimension at will, although they are “technically” not allowed to interfere with our lives. In spite of this, some do just that, as they torment human homes by tormenting residents with actions that one may typically describe as a “haunting”.
They have tribes, families and religions, just like us, and that means that some are friendly and don’t wish us any harm at all. In fact, it’s said that some people have Jinn followers that help them. For example, if you’ve ever lost your keys and “magically” found them somewhere obvious, you may have been assisted by a Jinni.
Like humans, they have been granted free will, and can choose to be good or bad, unlike Angels who have no choice but to be good. It’s the bad ones that we have to worry about, especially the fierce ones.
Sometimes they manifest in the form of people, but mostly as animals or shadows. Two of their most common forms are the snake and the black dog. You may find that unnerving, to know that a person may, in fact, be a Jinni, but it’s said that there are a few ways that you’d be able to identify them.
They are mostly either unusually small or tall, even for a human, and there’s always something “off” about their eyes and feet, as sometimes they can disguise their cat’s eyes and hooves for feet, and sometimes they cannot.
Of course, in The Revenge of the Blue Jinni, I was given the chance to “amplify” their abilities. That’s an author’s privilege. As a resident of the Middle East and a believing Muslim, I believe the Jinn to be a reality, and their presence explains most supernatural phenomenon, but it’s clear that the Jinn don’t do most of the things that I say they do in The Revenge of the Blue Jinni.
Creating a fantasy world for my characters means creating a world that “could be” possible within the bounds of one’s own imagination and what we know to be true about the subject. Your story doesn’t have to be true of course, but there should be elements of truth woven into the pages to make it sound feasible. There’s already 2 billion people on the planet that believe in the existence of these beings, and there’s already been one famous written work that makes them larger than life, 1001 Arabian Nights, so as the author, I simply had to use our established beliefs as a basis for their existence, and will their additional abilities into existence through their descriptions.
The Blue Jinni is the villain of The Hakima’s Tale trilogy, and as their supreme leader, he had to resemble tyrannical leaders that we have experienced in the human world. As a Jinni, he can be invisible, can occupy inanimate objects and possess people, and he has an inherent jealousy of the human species. He’s helped the mighty King Ghalib (also a fictitious character) to defeat rebellious human tribes, so he already knows our weaknesses. Although he respected the King tremendously, he became increasingly more and more disenchanted with “us”, humans, and became convinced that we don’t deserve this position of dominance that we’ve been granted.
Well, come on, one must admit, especially given the current state of things on planet Earth, that he may actually have a point. Humans, as a whole, haven’t proven to be very worthy of their status. Of course, as with any maniacal villain, his plans for cleansing the Earth are morally reprehensible.
As for his abilities, the Blue Jinni can wield storms of a natural disaster variety, cause people and objects to thought travel, and move great amounts of land from one place to another. His impressive abilities are restricted by the King and this causes a great deal of resentment. Of course, as with any story of one with unresolved power and repressed abilities, the result isn’t good for people.
His mighty generals, Coulda, Bafeemus and Angrit are in charge of building his empire while he’s imprisoned in his lantern at the bottom of the sea. They are also charged with finding him each time the planets align and enabling his release. These three are equally monstrous, but Coulda assumes command. I chose these names for my Jinn generals because they don’t resemble any names from human nationalities. After all, they aren’t human, and the whole “separation of people by nationality” is considered ridiculous by them, and of course, a human weakness. Therefore, it was quite important for me to name them something that doesn’t sound like anything we know. They aren’t Arab. They aren’t American or European. They are Jinn, and that’s it.
Coulda is a reptilian looking creature capable of flight, even flight into outer space. He can influence thought and appear as reptile like creatures. Bafeemus is “Brute-like” and resembles what one may think of as a muscle bound demon, with a bald head, jagged teeth and bulging eyes. He’s not smart, but he makes up for his lack of smarts in brute strength, and the ability to thought travel. Angrit has a lion-like appearance, and although he’s terrifying in appearance, he’s the nobler of the three. He can appear as any animal form at all, except the Wolf. The wolf is said to be the only animal that can kill a Jinni, so for centuries, he searched for a way to not only appear as a wolf, but a way to command wolves. Finally, he and the other generals acquire the mask of Anubis and get this long desired ability. In the Rise of the Warrior, this acquisition comes under threat from Phoenix Kassim, the protagonist of The Hakima’s Tale.
Writing these characters was fun, and it’s interesting that I’ve not been asked as much about them in interviews regarding The Hakima’s Tale trilogy. I’ve been mostly asked about Phoenix, which is only natural, since she’s the star of the trilogy, but I’m very happy to have the chance to talk about my bad guys for a change, because authors infuse a tiny bit of themselves into each character they build, even the villains, so they are also part of me, just as Phoenix is, and let’s face it, who doesn’t love reading about a fabulous maniacal mass murdering psycho that truly believes he’s doing a service?
The Hakima’s Tale books are available as E books, Paperback, or Audio books via Audible.com. They are particularly fun to listen to in the car!
If you’d like to check out my work, log on to www.dedralstevenson.com or www.bluejinnimedia.com and have a look. I have the three books of The Hakima’s Tale, a Courtroom drama called, Desert Magnolia (that’s been called a modern day, To Kill A Mockingbird), a collection of short stories called Tales of the Lantern, and a horror called, The Skinwalker Resurrection. Additionally, I’ve just completed an international cookbook called Breaking Bread Around the World and an award winning short documentary, Lemonade, that will soon be available on the sight. I’ve got plans for a whole lot more, so sign up for our newsletter and join me on social media! Here are my links:
Twitter handle: @Hakimastale
Stay in touch and keep the magic alive!
…thanks gazillions for sharing with us, m’Lady, Dedra … see yeez late… LUV YEEZ!
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