I’m cruising through the atmosphere on a blog tour with my genie, Zubis. I hope you all will hop on. xo
As I do my research into what is known about the realm of the jinn, I’m always on the lookout for archaeolgical links to places that may have a mysterious history; locations whose lore or legends lend themselves to jinn occupation. Mazraat Beit Jinn in the foothills of Mount Hermon is such a place. Translated from Arabic, Mazraat Beit Jinn means Farm in the Jinn House. There is a nearby town simply called Beit Jinn, which means House of the Jinn. Why? Why would residents of long ago give such a name to this windswept, sparsely populated desert outpost? Were the jinn here? There’s no answer now. Beit Jinn is a small village among a cluster of small villages southwest of Damascus having a total population of just over 2,000 souls. At one time, however, it sat along the route of the Silk Road. Once it was vibrant. Once, it might have hosted the jinn.
Not far from Beit Jinn, northeast of Damascus, lies Palmyra. And here, there are more remnants that lore credits to the handiwork of the jinn. Although located in the arid center of a desert, Palmyra employed a system of elaborate dams and cisterns 2,000 years ago to bring water to more than 100,00 inhabitants. A pretty big feat. Unless you have some jinn working for you. And here’s some literary evidence to support that theory:
“Rise up and go into the world to release it from error and send word to the Jinn and I will give them leave to build Tadmur with hewn stones and columns.” ~God said to Solomon according to the pre-Islamic Arab poet Nabigha al Dhubyain.
Tadmur is the Arabic name for Palmyra.
Here’s my theory. The jinn were active in the desert thousands of years ago. They claimed it as their own. They helped humans to build magnificent cities to provide respite from the heat. They didn’t care that conditions could be harsh and inhospitable. They were the jinn: great engineers. They tapped into the wadi, reservoirs of water beneath the sand; they erected cool marble halls; they brought elegance and civility to the desert. They worked with humans, but humans became more numerous. When Solomon was given control of the jinn nearly three thousand years ago, the game changed. They built his temple (there are allusions to this in the Christian Bible) and some other cities (Petra and Meda’in Salah among them). Here, we get back to Beit Jinn. While the jinn moved about from such locations as Palmyra in the north to Petra in the south, they would have resided at towns along the way. Towns that would forever bear the memory with such names as Beit Jinn and Mazraat Beit Jinn. But the jinn were seen increasingly as a threat. They were no longer needed. They withdrew. Where are they now?
You can certainly find them in my novels. Check out The Genie Ignites and 101 Nights for some fictional insight on what the realm of the jinn might be like. Sadly, to travel to Syria now is to risk getting caught in the civil strife there. News accounts report that the ancient citadel of Palmyra and those in Aleppo have been damaged by mortar fire. Hopefully, a resolution will soon be found so that this wonderful history isn’t lost forever.
I just got word today that my book, which is published by Boroughs Publishing Group, was ranked among the top three for my category, which was Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal. The Abalone Awards recognize “outstanding ethno-cultural romance.” While Zubis is a jinni and Bethany is a human, the cultural issue in The Genie Ignites is the divide between her Western world and his Eastern view, which is steeped in the legend, traditions, history, food, and lifestyle of the Middle East. But true love sees no color, sees no difference in how the heart loves. I’m so honored that my novel was selected. The winner will be announced at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Conference in July. It’s time to make a wish.
Go download your copy of The Genie Ignites. It is the first book in The Zubis Chronicles series. I think you’ll like it.
The second book, The Genie Smolders, is due out in May.
A Reader’s Review blog hosts me and my genie obsession today. Go check out it and follow the blog for great book recommendations!
Originally posted on areadersreviewblog:
Today we welcome author Kellyann Zuzulo to share with us the truth about genies….. Over to you Kellyann!
The allure of the desert, whether it’s Vegas or the Sahara, taps some primitive heat in all of us. I know it does for me. The jinn, or genies, have been around for thousands of years. The Thousand and One Nights (also known as The Arabian Nights) brought these entities out of oral myth and into literature. Eventually, Western society got wind of these freeflying phantoms. Unfortunately, we turned them into bluish cartoons when all the research (yes, there is research on genies) says they are very similar to humans.
What a perfect antagonist for a romance! A guy who’s smart, powerful, alluring, and magical. That’s the basis for a heartthrob if ever there was one. In my novel The Genie Ignites, Zubis is that hero. Did you know that…
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I’m currently writing a novella called Angels & Genies that offers a view on the world of Jinnistan. It’s a contemporary romance set on a New Jersey beachfront, but our jinni hero is determined to protect his homeland. Where is it? How does he get to it? Certainly not via the Garden State Parkway. No. Jinnistan exists parallel to our world and there are portals that occasionally allow access…sort of like potholes in the atmosphere. Every once in a while, the portal appears, like a comet in a clear night sky.
So, if you know my blog, you know I do my genie research. History, legend, myth, and anecdotes offer postcard images of this fabled land. With those resources and a little imagination, I’ve woven together a vision of what Jinnistan looks like. The more difficult question is: Where is it?
I like this theory of Jinnistan based on news reports of U.F.O. (Unidentified Flying Objects, for those of you living under rocks) sightings in Nigeria. Apparently, what appeared to be a city in the sky hovered over the remote village of Dulali last year.
Here’ what they saw:
Suddenly, he became aware of a pervading bright light enveloping the atmosphere, followed by a sudden realisation that the heavens were falling on the village. As he looked up at the encroaching sky, he saw the most amazing view of his forty years existence. According to him, “There appeared a wide, large mass of something that looked like a cloud from nowhere and it was flying slowly over the village just at the height of an average tree.
“The cloud was transparent and I saw beautiful tall buildings inside it, with tarred roads and cars. It was like a flying city. And from it I could hear the sound of machines making noise just as you would hear at Ashaka cement factory.
Here’s what they think it was:
Mallam Shehu Liman is the Chief Imam of the village. He confirmed the general consensus of the villagers and specifically affirmed that, “We believe that maybe Allah used those sightings to open our eyes to see how Jinns (spirits) live in their own world. Allah is great, and there is nothing He cannot do on earth.”
I’ll buy that for $3.99. What do you think?
For $3.99, you can buy The Genie Ignites.
And stay tuned for the cover unveiling of Angels & Genies next Monday, February 25, 2013.
Faced with the external threat of invasion from its more established neighbors, this small Middle Eastern nation began to build. They controlled the trade routes of the Persian Gulf, accumulating wealth and resources. Their construction established them as a major force in the region. Who are they? This upstart nation was known as the Chaldean tribe of southern Babylonia and first appeared in historical accounts around 3,000 years ago.
Accounts of ancient intrigue are a great source of literary inspiration for me. Who were these Chaldeans and why were they able to make a mark in history? Who really knows? All the players are dead and written accounts are scarce. I’m going to tap a reliable though fabricated resource: my imagination. My answer to who the Chaldeans were will be incorporated into my new novel, another romance about the rule of the jinn. Genies are described in folklore as being great builders. Could they have helped a tiny kingdom establish a temple and shrine that became known as the Foundation of Heaven and Earth? Sure, they could have. At least that’s the narrative I”m going to use in my novel.
The actual answer to how the Chaldeans rose to power can be partly found in history. My primary resource for this novel will be the Biblical Archaeology Society library. According to historical accounts, the Chaldeans benefited from the fact that their more powerful neighbors had weakened. With a strong ruler at the helm, the Chaldeans simply outmaneuvered the competition. Eriba-Marduk was the first ethnic Chaldean monarch of Babylonia. He must have been a bold risk-taker. Was he ruthless? Who knows. But if he were, he’d be a great villain. That’s where I’m heading with this. “The King who built an empire at any cost…using mercenaries and magic.” Whaddya think?
The real Eriba-Marduk’s reign lasted only nine years, but it set the stage for Chaldean resistance to the Assyrians for the next century and a half. King Nebuchadnezzar (much better known than his Chaldean predecessor) made his reputation off the construction projects that Eriba-Marduk started. As a matter of fact, the ziggurat called Etemenanki, which Eriba-Marduk started and Nebuchadnezzar restored, was believed to be the Biblical Tower of Babel. And who better to build a mammoth tower that reaches into the heavens than the jinn. Stay tuned for their exploits in my next novel.
Meanwhile, you can check out THE GENIE IGNITES from Boroughs Publishing Group…the story of a genie bound to the modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the woman who would win his heart and maybe his freedom.
(Historical information for this blog was drawn from the Biblical Archaeology Society library, Nebuchadnezzar & Solomon: Parallel Lives Illuminate History by Bill T. Arnold: Jan/Feb 2007.)
Look for THE CHRISTMAS BOTTLE, a new Lunchbox Romance from Boroughs Publishing Group about a mystical night that unites a brutal man, his hopeful wife, and an alluring jinni. To be released November 25th, 2012.
In Oman, there is a cave that is known as The Meeting Place of the Jinn. Majlis al Jinn, also known as the Selma Plateau, bears the recent distinction of providing a BASE jumping site for Felix Baumgartner, that intrepid pioneer of free falls from space. Sounds like he has a lot in common with the jinn. The cave earned its name because Omanis in the region determined that the massive space, airy and craggy
and hard for humans to breach, was the perfect gathering spot for genies.
And, in fact, considered one of the largest underground caves in the world, Majlis al Jinn provides a beautiful illustration of what the land of Jinnistan might look like. Soaring rock faces, stratified rock in gradients of gold, brown, red, and pearl, a massive space of air that hovers around 17–18 °C or 65°F. Jinn are forged from flame and their own land is possibly a very warm place, but when they linger along the earth’s crust, they’re bound to lose some heat. And 65 is actually not that cool for a cave. Hmmm.
A single chamber with a domed ceiling about 410 feet high (that’s about 41 stories), Majlis al Jinn has only three entrances from the top. If there were any entrances to passages within the chamber, they have been blocked by sediment or debris. Or have they? Seems odd that the only way in is through the top. Usually, geologic formations pucker and pop, shift and settle over so much time. You’d think there would be catacombs, honeycombs, or perforations of some sort. Perhaps not. The jinn keep their houses nice and tight.
Currently, you need permission from the government to explore this cave. But there’s talk of Oman opening the cave to tourism. There’s a very informative article about Majlis al Jinn at the Desert Cave Project website, which includes an explanation for the jinn legend:
Wrath of the One-Eyed Genie
The geologist then explained that a woman named Selma supposedly lived here a long, long time ago and somehow or other got on the wrong side of a gigantic, one-eyed Jinn (Genie). Well, Selma decided to run for her life and as she zigzagged across this plateau, the Genie threw several thunderbolts at her. Luckily for Selma, the Genie’s depth perception was pretty awful, having only one eye and all, and three of those lightning bolts went astray, each one of them leaving a humongous scar in the earth.
Of course, only in modern times was it verified that the three holes are, in fact, skylights at the top of a single enormous chamber. On June 23, 1983, American geologist Don Davison Jr. rappelled to the floor of this cave and discovered to his amazement that he was standing in a single room 340 meters long by 228 wide with a 120 meter ceiling. As Davis later wrote (in AramcoWorld Magazine), “The Superdome in New Orleans—with a seating capacity of 97,365—could easily be contained within the cavern’s volume, with room for a 1600-car parking lot besides.”
From the Sultanate of Oman’s tourist website:
Reaching the Cave opening requires strenuous physical effort, since you must traverse a distance of 1,300 metres to reach the cave opening through rugged mountain terrain. This trip takes about five hours. The only way to descend into the cave is by ropes. Geologists put the age of this cave (Majlis Al Jinn, or Salma Plateau as some like to call it owing to the area where it’s located) at fifty million years. The cave is considered a repository of natural life treasures.
Fifty million years is a long time. But the jinn live a long time, much longer than the life span of a human. Their creation is estimated to have occurred millions of years ago. It’s interesting to speculate that the jinn may have whipped by this cave at some point. I like to think so. In the third installment of The Zubis Chronicles, I’ll be including the spectacular cities, crags, and spires of Jinnistan as a setting. The world is already so full of awe-inspiring formations and locations, that it’s not hard to imagine a mystical world that may look like this.
There’s a place in Makkah, Saudi Arabia that was built for genies. Masjid al-Jinn is a mosque that commemorates the jinn who gathered there when they heard Prophet Muhammed praying. The story goes that some jinn were flying through the skies (which you would know genies can do from reading this blog). Soaring above where the Prophet spoke, they liked what they heard and decided to join the fold…some of them anyway. (What you also might know from reading this blog is that genies can be good or evil. They have free will, just like humans.) So, here in the desert, what was once sand and scrub, arose this gray marble monument to a brief interaction between humans and genies.
Now, if you know little about genies or have a Western perspective on what they are–that is, blue and puffy with Robin Williams’ voice–you’ll find this hard to believe. But there are enough people who do believe it that this lovely structure stands on a Saudi street as a monument to the day the jinn landed.
If I were to build a resting spot for the jinn, I’d create some comfortable seating so that we could sit and chat. I might even get some insight for my next novel. If Zubis were to decorate such a space, I think it would look a little something like this. A house fit for a jinni.
[Thanks to Lisa Pietsch for sharing these lovely images with me.]
Zubis’s apartment in Riyadh is described in The Genie Ignites.