Sarah Black interview with Feliz Faber

Today, author Sarah Black interviews our own guest reviewer and new author Feliz Faber on the release of her new story, Desert Falcon, from Dreamspinner Press.  Let’s listen in as they talk travelling, falcons, reading and writing and what Feliz is up to next.

Sarah: Your new story, Desert Falcon, has such an exotic setting. Can you tell us about it? Do you have experience yourself in this region of the world?

Feliz: In a way, the setting came with the main character. When I first met Hunter, I went looking for a place where he could have become as devoted to falconry as he is, and the first thing that came to my mind was Arabia. Falconry is an integral part of the Arabian culture; the Saker falcon was the Prophet Mohammed’s favorite bird according to the Holy Qur’an. While researching for Desert Falcon, I chanced upon a female German veterinarian who leads a falcon clinic in Abu Dhabi, I think, and I knew immediately this was the place for Hunter. I thought about making him a veterinarian, but as it happens often with my characters, he put his foot down and refused, and thus became an ornithologist.

Sarah: He’s a strong character — very powerful and quite believable that he would put his foot down with you!

Feliz: As for my personal experience with this region of the world — no, I’ve never been there, although I’d really, really love to some day. Ever heard about Karl May? He was a German novelist in the late 18 hundreds, incredibly prolific (he wrote almost 80 full novels and countless short stories). He wrote “travel reports”, pretending he’d actually been to all the places he described; his books were pure fiction but so accurate some of his fans in the 1950 could actually use them as travel guides. Many of those books are set in the Middle East. I grew up with them, read them over and over, immersed myself in his worlds. A decade later, I met a friend, a Persian (he never said Iranian!) whose parents had fled with the Shah. Through him I gained deeper insight into this culture, which I’ve come to deeply respect and love since.

Sarah: And Karl May did all that without the internet! He must have been a great reader. I have been a big fan of Persian poetry, which is intensely romantic. I read on your blog that you’ve lived all over the world. What were some of your favorite places? What do you particularly like about travelling and moving?

Feliz: Persian poetry is fantastic! I always regret that I never learned Arabic writing, let alone Farsi. Well, I’ve lived and worked mostly in European countries — Switzerland, France, Denmark, and about ten or twelve different places in Germany. I’ve traveled all over Europe, though, to Turkey and Australia. What’s always the best thing about a new place is getting to know it, getting familiar with different people. A new place is full of immense opportunities, for everything — making new friends, learning something new, exploring new locations, habits, foods. My favorite places? Brittany, I think, especially Saint Malo and the Mount St. Michel. Such beauty! Brisbane — I didn’t want to leave. Mannheim — a down to earth, cosmopolitic city that grounded me in a way no other place did.

Sarah: The main characters, Hunter and Hamid, are both falconers. What do falconers do? How did you get interested in falcons?

Feliz: I met my first falcon at a birdwatch show when I was little, and I was hooked immediately. I never got round to have a falcon of my own, but there’s a professional falconer in my neighborhood who I can go hawking with, which I usually do once or twice a month in winter season.

Basically, Falconry is a way of hunting with tamed birds of prey. In the middle age, falconry was very common everywhere in the world; at times, even peasants got to hunt for fowl or rabbits with trained hawks. Modern falconers are mostly environmentalists, but falconry has a lot of uses even today, far beyond falconry shows or education. For example, falcons are used for biological pest control, keeping buildings free of doves, parks free of rabbits — and airport runways free of nuisance birds.

What do falconers do? Don’t get me started! Caring for the birds, keeping them clean, healthy and entertained is almost a full-time job. The reward, of course, is having a companion who’s with you all of her free will. They aren’t pets at all, they always remain wild. Feeling a falcon’s deadly claws on your wrist, and watching her fly — it’s a feeling beyond description when she comes back to you although she doesn’t need to.

Sarah: Is Desert Falcon your first story? What are your plans for your writing? Are you working on something now?

Feliz: Desert Falcon was the first story I had the nerve to publish, but it’s not my first story — I’ve got about a dozen tales sitting on my hard drive that better never, ever see the light.

Actually, Hunter is one of the two main characters in my first “real” novel, City Falcon, which is unpublished as of now (yet, I hope — I’ve submitted it for publication only recently). Desert Falcon is Hunter’s backstory, which turned into a Bittersweet Dreams short story almost on its own volition. As I said, Hunter is a rather strong-willed character; he quasi dictated his story to me during a single weekend, and I had to make very little alterations once I had written it down.

I’m currently working on the sequel to City Falcon (Hunter isn’t quite done with me, for which I’m deeply grateful), which I’ve almost finished outlining.

Sarah: I’ve had a few characters like that — they just have some things to say, and I’m their scribe!

Feliz: I have another unrelated project, a story about a gay horseracing jockey, which I hope to finish sometime this summer.

Sarah: That sounds interesting. I was a big fan of Dick Francis when I was younger. I loved that whole world of horse racing. This book is short. Do you have a particular fondness for short v. novel length fiction? What are your thoughts on this?

Feliz: I don’t have any preferences in regard to story length. Generally when I start writing something I have a vague notion what it’s going to be, but I must admit, I never know for sure until the outline is done. I don’t consciously plan to write a novel, a novella or a short story — the story lasts until it’s told.

Sarah: Tell me about you as a reader. Ebook vs paper? Any childhood favorites? What’s on your TBR pile right now?

Feliz: Oh, reading. Since I’m a voracious reader, I have bookshelves everywhere, my home office, my bedroom, the hallway, even the bathroom, all overflowing with books. Afraid to be buried alive under a bookalanche, my man applied the emergency brakes on my book addiction last year by giving me a Sony reader for my birthday. Which he bitterly regrets by now, though, since I haven’t let it out of my reach ever since.

This is my chatty way of saying I’ve turned to almost exclusively reading ebooks recently, although I still buy and read the odd print book on occasion. On my TBR is Eden Winter’s Settling the Score, Rick R. Reed’s How I Met My Man, Kris Jacen’s Wishing on a Blue Star, Ariel Tachna’s Alliance in Blood and about a dozen others. It grows constantly sigh

As for childhood favorites: see above. My all-time favorites are Bengtsson’s The Long Ships and Kipling’s Kim.

Sarah: I love Kipling, too, and because of him, I have an unrequited love of India. Like your guy Karl May, I love reading stories where the setting takes me to a place I haven’t been before. It’s so easy for us these days to travel to new places via books — and for us writers, to research a new place well enough we can smell it and taste it. When I’m writing about a new place, I always try to make their cooking at home- so the house smells right while I’m writing. Though I never mastered New Orleans pralines and shrimp. New Orleans may have too many layers! You have a couple of dogs at home. Will you tell us about them?

Feliz: They’re the joy of my heart. Sherry, the girl, is seven now, and Filou, the boy, is two. They’re real clowns, cute, stubborn and hoggish. They get my backside off the computer chair and make me laugh, and there’s no other creature that can love quite like they do. No matter how hard my day was, when I come home in the evening and they greet me with that unconditional, exuberant happiness — it’s catching, comforting and incredibly beautiful. It’s a pity I can’t take them when I ride my motorbike!

Desert Falcon, available now from Dreamspinner!

21 comments

  • Fabulous interview, Feliz. My, the places you’ve been! And you’re planning more stories with Hunter! Desert Falcon really reeled me in with the beautiful description of the desert and Hunter’s life there. I want to see that man get a HEA.

    Reply
  • Great interview, Feliz! I like the chance to learn more about you. Believe me, I know all about the “bookalanche” — I’m also transitioning to e-readers/ebooks as fast as I can. And I love your photo of your dogs in the snowy landscape. They’re beautiful! They almost look like Irish setters in their coloring.

    Also wanted to say I really enjoyed Desert Falcon and I’m very much looking forward to the sequels. I think there’s so much potential to Hunter as a character. Like Sarah was saying, he’s now at the beginning of his new journey. 🙂

    Reply
    • I hope he is, I dearly hope…
      I’m so glad you liked it, thank you!
      My doggies are English Cocker Spaniels, those are much smaller and pudgier than Irish Setters. Otherwise, the two races look quite alike – except for the temper. If there wasn’t a word for lazy yet, you could use Cocker for it… 😀

      Reply
  • Feliz

    Great interview by Sarah. I have to look to my laurels now. LOL Seriously both of you did a terrific job and I want my own falcon. I love, love, love the dogs. Any time you’re willing to give them up send them to me. 🙂

    I haven’t read Desert Falcon as yet but I will soon.

    Reply
    • Hi Wave,
      no you don’t – want your own falcon, I mean. They’re loud, messy, wild and a hell of a lot of work. Go for a dog instead – but there’s no way you can have mine! :againstit:

      Reply
      • I’m not sure I want a falcon, but I sure want to see one hunting. I did have a raptor experience, though, I’ll tell you about. I was out roaming, tank full of gas, kid asleep in the pickup truck. We were somewhere close to where Texas turns into New Mexico, driving across an old iron bridge on the Pecos River. A Bald Eagle came shooting from somewhere, dove like a arrow, claws out and extended, right into the river under the bridge. He was coming down feet first, and those claws were as big as my hand!

        I nearly wrecked the truck, and of course bald eagles aren’t supposed to be on the Pecos River, but the thing was close enough I got to look right into his tiny cold black eye–EEEK! The heart of a serial killer. I was in love. I just drove the hell out of there fast as I could, with only a quick stop in Pecos for tamales.

        Reply
  • I must say that if Sarah had recommended something (rabid fan here!) I’m inclined to pick it up, although… not immediately. But certainly once the City Falcon novel is published (and it will be, I know!), because if your protagonist is as wonderful as Sarah says, Feliz, I will want an optimistic ending for him and I’m just not into Bittersweet Dreams right now. Plus, then I’ll have TWO books to read. I’m a fickle reader though, so who knows? 🙂

    Ah, Karl May and falconry! You totally pushed all my childhood/adventure/exotic destinations buttons there. Every two years or so, I pick up and read every book I’ve been reading as a teenager and Karl May has a prominent place on the list.

    Great interview, ladies! Good luck, Feliz! I know we will see many, many of your stories in the future. :sendoutlove:

    Reply
    • Hi LadyM,
      if someone publishes City Falcon, Hunter will have his optimistic ending, I promise!

      Kara Ben Nemsi and Hadji Halef Omar were my childhood heroes. Did you read May’s books in German or Serbian? Nice to meet another fan here – although I can’t read those books anymore, I always crack up at the bombasic language. Back when I was a child, this didn’t bother me at all. I remember my old friends fondly.

      Reply
      • Did you read May’s books in German or Serbian?

        In Serbian – most of May’s books are translated. Ah, but my favorites were from his “Western” cycle. You know – Winnetou, Old Firehand, Old Shatterhand (the other incarnation of KBN), Sam Hawkins, etc. Although, there were some books that mixed the characters a bit with those from “Oriental” books and I liked those as well.

        Reply
    • ending wise- no spoilers, but you know how sometimes you are just hurt and lonely and you need a friend who will listen to you, and put his arm around you? The gift of love from a friend, when you really need it, is sweet beyond measure.

      Reply
  • I loved ‘Desert Falcon’, Feliz – fantastic details and strong characters. Glad to know there’s more coming from you! And a great interview, Sarah! Thank you!

    Reply
  • Thanks for such a great interview.

    I have looked at Desert Falcon a couple of times and turned away becos of the ‘ Bittersweet ‘ element. I’m an addict of at the very least HFN. Now with all this wonderful detail I’m going to have to give in.

    I love the idea of Falconry and considered trying it myself, but reality returned – vegetarian hunting with hawk :doh: – and I can just enjoy the images and literature.

    Can I have a fan moment :wave: – thanks Sarah for some lovely books.
    I discovered Tootsies – loved it-just in time for Christmas and alpaca socks appeared on my wish list.Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Raine,
      I wouldn’t call myself a falconer, far from it, but I was lucky enough to enjoy hawking a few times. Perhaps you could do the same. The Chesire Hawking Club is an affiliate to the North American Falconer’s Association (http://www.cheshirehawkingclub.co.uk/), perhaps they could put you in contact with a local falconer where you live. I found “my” falconer through a friend who is a tenant of a hunt around where I live. You should give it a try – it’s a great experience believe me.
      And of course you should give my story a try 😉 – hope you’ll like it!

      Let me join into the fangirl moment. I felt honored to be interviewed by Sarah Black whose writing I love!

      Reply
      • hey, I’m wearing alpaca socks as we speak! Thanks, hunny bunny. And I have to say I loved the ending, Hunter was walking right into his next story, which seemed to be just starting- lovely ending.

        Reply

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