* What was it about Persia that made you want to set both HAREM and * In your most recent novel, COURTESAN, you follow three generations of
COURTESAN: A NOVEL there, albeit in different times?
Since I spent twenty formative years of my life in Iran, and my family’s Persian roots go back more than 2500 years to the time of Darius the Great, it felt most natural to set my novels, HAREM and COURTESAN in Persia. My own background is somewhat unusual, since I was born in Israel, settled in Iran at the age of nine, then fled to California with my family at the onset of the Islamic Revolution. What is apparent, though, is that I will always treasure the wealth of factual stories my historian grandfather recounted to me during his lifetime and will forever draw from them for my future books.
Jewish women who live in France. Simone, however, travels from France to
Persia to be with the man she loves. How much of these women's lives are
based on fact and how much is fiction?
The three generations of Jewish woman in COURTESAN are fictional characters born of my imagination. But, each one, the grandmother, Madame Gabrielle, the daughter, Françoise, and the granddaughter, Simone, carries a combination of traits and habits that throughout the years, I carefully observed in a number of influential women in my life, my mother, grandmothers, aunts from another fascinating generation. In the end, all writers are voyeurs, don’t you think? * In researching COURTESAN: A NOVEL, was there anything you were shocked to learn about courtesans in 19th century France?
The most shocking fact I learned about courtesans in 19th century France was tremendous their influence on powerful men of the time, even kings, and how they sometimes succeeded to change the political course of a country. A number of courtesans were highly educated, articulate, and invested shrewdly at a time when women were expected to remain far from the financial arena. I find it ironic that the same men who expected their wives to stay home and raise kids admired courtesans who were the exact opposite.
* Tell us something surprising about women in 17th century Persia, where
your novel HAREM is set.
Women in ancient Persia, and specifically women in the Shah’s harem, were surprisingly resourceful, able to overcome insurmountable hurdles, ruthless and ambition. During my research for HAREM, I was constantly shocked to learn how very rife with danger harems of the time were.Murders, poisoning, and plotting were prevalent, not to mention sexual favors to advance one’s position. But by far the most surprising fact I learned was that a number of these women had sex with eunuchs and even fell in love with them. Unbelievable!
* Are you working on another book, and if so, will it be set in Persia?
I am currently working on another historical novel, this one set in Russia, of all places, and during the last Romanovs, another decadent, tumultuous, and tragic era.
Thank you Dora! And feel free to visit Dora Levy Mossanen online for more information
about her novel Courtesan.