by Joshua Lange
GENRE: Historical Romance
Julien Allais, a French Catholic, prays for only one thing: to kneel before God in the Holy Land of Jerusalem, far from his home in Constantinople, the capital of the Christian world in AD 1096. Joining the silver-clad Crusaders arriving from the west to free the Holy Land seems like the answer to his prayers.
Young and untrained, Julien is soon captured, abandoned by the knights he had trusted. Despite what he was told, his Muslim captors are not Godless fiends. Ahtmar, a boy near his own age, is among his captors, and Ahtmar’s sister Zahra tends to Julien’s wounds. As Julien’s feelings for Zahra and respect for Ahtmar grow, he questions everything he thought he knew. The Jerusalem they describe is a bustling city ruled by the Turks for the sake of all residents, no matter their faith. It doesn’t need to be freed – it needs to be protected from the Crusaders who will destroy it in the name of their faith.
As Julien and his captors travel to Jerusalem, a forbidden love between Julien and Zahra is born. This love will change them both. Will it have the power to change a world at war?
Chapter 1 June, 1096 — Constantinople
With my hands clasped and my eyes closed, I prayed. Lord, please protect my father and I. Bless us so that we might get by – even if it’s only for a few more months. Please, lift our spirits and ease our burdens. I squeezed my eyes shut tighter, pushed my knees firmly into the cold floor, and sat up straighter, as if that would somehow hasten my communication with heaven. I want to travel to Jerusalem. I want to complete my pilgrimage. Please, dear God, allow this to happen. Allow us to find our way to your holy city.
My next thoughts had been my heaviest, and I hesitated in sharing them with God, even though He already knew. Father says I should be content. He says I should simply wait until a path to Jerusalem opens. But it doesn’t feel like it’s that simple. Please, guide me, Lord… Amen.
I gazed up at the impossibly high ceiling, which was marked with delicate, colorful paintings of Jesus, and a clear window that was like a view to heaven itself. The dusk sunlight beamed down upon the hundreds of loyal church followers and cast many of us in a deep, orange light.
The church was supported by stunning pillars and walls made of stone and marble, and featured stained glass windows that depicted the miracle that was the life of Jesus. They showed him bearing the crown of thorns, suffering on the cross, healing the sick, and returning to life – they were all a reminder that our pain was nothing in the grand scheme of things. A person-sized crucifix watched over me from the far end of the room.
I concluded my prayers feeling energized but unsatisfied. I didn’t allow my impatience to get the best of me, though, especially inside this house of salvation. I darted by the Greek citizens in their brightly colored dalmatic tunics and headed outside.
The city had been truly unbelievable. A far cry from France, where things were held together mainly by wood and farmland. Here, the Greeks had a towering fortress surrounded by stone walls and towers, compact and circular. The buildings were largely tall and secure, like ever-watchful stone trees. It was packed with citizens along the bustling main street.
The Greeks visited shopping stalls and restaurants, bought new clothing and loudly made trades. Even after being there for a year, Constantinople had remained truly foreign to me. The noise of shopkeepers hailing potential customers and the nearly blindingly bright colors of clothing in yellows, blues, and purples were enough to distract me on my way home.
It was hard not to get absorbed in the beauty of the city, but truly, I had been an outsider to Byzantium, and as part of the Catholic Church, it hadn’t exactly been the warmest welcome for my father and I. Even now; I remember the hostile glares and turned up noses from the purple-wearing nobles. I remember looking down at my own unassuming, tan tunic, picking at it, feeling how ragged it was, and most of all, how inferior I’d felt.
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m from Long Island, New York. I’ve lived here my whole life, and though it has its flaws, I’m happy to call it my home.
Aside from my writing, I enjoy anime and manga, as well as playing story-driven video games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Baldur’s Gate 3!
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
I pitch my book as a re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet, set in the First Crusade; a young Christian boy goes to war initially thinking he’s doing the right thing, but a Muslim girl shows him the error of his ways, and the two fall in love. Obviously, many challenges ensue.
The idea behind the book was a mirror of my own life – I was in a long-term relationship with a Muslim, and we faced many obstacles ourselves.
How do you create your characters?
All of my characters are parts of myself. They’ll have my flaws, and my strengths, doled in out in different forms. Almost all of them are some piece of my heart and soul.
What inspires and what got you started in writing?
I first started writing thanks to a manga, actually — Rurouni Kenshin. I was so moved by its story and characters, plus I had a natural love of Japan and its samurai history, and so I put pen to paper. That resulted in my first book, called The Sleeping Sun, which I hope to publish someday soon!
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
I used to write by hand in a notebook, but I made the switch to digital, and I write on my computer in my room. I usually just drink water, but I find that relaxing music really helps me get into a writing mood. Primarily, meditation music (like binaural beats) workes best for me!
How do you get your ideas for writing?
This might sound odd but my ideas tend to “pop in” to my mind. Of course, With God We Burn came from a special place — my heart — with my relationship, but most times, I will get ideas seemingly out of nowhere!
What do you like to read?
Not much, surprisingly! My writing-to-reading ratio is 10-1, I’d say. But when I do read, I’ve been revisiting a lot of classing science fiction, like Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. I primarily write sci-fi!
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
My best advice for any aspiring authors is to keep your creative vision close to your vest. What tends to happen is, when you share your ideas, especially early on, people will want to change them. Everyone has an opinion, right?
Trust your vision. Write as much as you can, with your vision in your heart, and only when you feel you can’t go on, that’s when you ask for help. Otherwise, I find, even if people don’t mean to, they want to change your vision.
Anything else you壇 like to share?
Born and raised on Long Island, Joshua has had a love for storytelling since he was young. He grew up with the larger-than-life characters and silly stories in pro wrestling and got lost in complex role-playing video games, and finally manifested his love at age 18 when he wrote his first book.
Joshua often reflects on the bigger picture in life and thinks most people are good, decent, and worthy. Love, unity, and respect are his core ideals, and they are woven into all of his writing.
He currently lives on Long Island with a loving family, which is he truly grateful for.
You can follow current projects, or catch up with him on social media; he is always open to making new friends!
Joshua Lange will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
a Rafflecopter giveaway