Category Archives: Black Tiger
I’m in the midst of writing new tiger story, the sequel to Black Tiger. It’s a stand-alone book, starring the two main characters but the setting is quite different, and based on the tiger trade in the US. In a recent post, I explained how I came to the decision that I’d write that story and I’m well under way.
Of course, I’ve done, am still doing, the research and I’ll check with people who know more than I do if I got it right. Thank goodness for the internet, and Google Earth. That said, you can’t beat experience. You can’t beat ‘been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt’.
The story starts in New York and I have been there, for just a few days. Sorry, I don’t heart NY. I’m not a big city person, and neither is Sally, my heroine. We both loved Central Park, though. It so happens, too, that the scene where Sally ends up in Harlem because she failed to realise she’d caught an express train also happened to me. Although I didn’t find a tiger in Harlem. Unlikely you say? Sure – but it has happened. Here’s the story of the Harlem tiger.
Now we get to the reason I’m writing this blog post, because I wrote a scene describing my abused tiger finally being released in a tiger sanctuary. Writing this, even thinking about it now, brought a tear to my eye. Why? Well, the world has turned many times since I was a child. I used to love to go to the zoo and see the animals. Our local zoo was small and these days has an enviable reputation in conservation of animals such as orang utans. But back then, like every other zoo in the world, animals were kept in concrete pens. I thought nothing of it at the time; few people did. But then opinion began to change about how animals should be kept, and the zoo changed its housing policy, first for the non-dangerous residents such as the deer and kangaroos. Then it was the big cat’s turn. Bear in mind these animals were never ill-treated. Many were born at the zoo. I’ll remember forever watching on TV as these cats (they were lions) first went into their new enclosure. And those memories are in this piece, as is footage from Carolina Tiger Rescue of a tiger being released into his new home. The writing is very raw, will probably change a little, but you get the idea. I hope. The tiger’s name is Ulysses.
Barbara Kranstein waved a hand. The forklift roared into life, edging the long prongs into the truck’s interior, then lifting. The operator backed the vehicle and the cage emerged with Ulysses standing, his tail waving. Sally felt his agitation and moved to where he could see her. Max, Bill and the forklift operator shifted the wheeled cage around and through the space between the double gates into the enclosure. It looked good, with a concrete den in a bank, a pool and wide areas of grass, as well as trees.
“We put food in the den for him,” Kranstein said, her gaze fixed on the cage.
When men were back behind the outer fence, Max pulled a cable that raised the second gate, then the cage.
Ulysses just stood for a few long moments. Sally sent him thoughts – safe, good, food, safe – and set her camera into video mode. Ash should see this, too. His head lowered, Ulysses took a step forward. Then another, patting the unfamiliar surface. A stride. And now he was beyond the gate and on the grass. The big cat threw himself down and rolled, this way, then that, wriggling his spine, chuffing his pleasure. Sally’s eyes brimmed, but she kept filming. Eyes closed, the tiger threw his head back and sucked some grass into his mouth. Another roll, back onto his stomach. Now he rose and padded over to the pool, large enough for a tiger to wallow. Once again, he patted, testing with one paw. When he walked into the water and collapsed with an almost human sigh, Sally couldn’t see properly any more.
I was quite sure, not so long ago, that I was going to write a new Morgan Selwood story this year. And maybe, later on, I will. But not just yet. The story just would not flow. I don’t believe in muses, I don’t believe there’s such a thing as writer’s block. In the immortal words of Yoda, “Do, or do not. There is no try.”
I thought the story was there. It was going to be based on a real, historical event but set in space. I started, wrote a few hundred totally forgettable words and went and kicked a few things. Sure, life was a huge distraction for me in the last little while, but now I’d started again, surely I could get on with it.
You see, the thing is with me that I can’t write it until I can (vicariously) live my story. I stand outside watching the sunset, going through lines of dialogue in my head. Or sometimes out loud. The scene plays, I sort of know what things look like and I can add details in an editing pass, no problem. With the Morgan story, it just wasn’t happening. One reason was that I hadn’t sufficiently converted the plot to space opera. That’s what the Morgan stories are about. Planet-hopping, high action is what I imagine readers will expect. This was going to be very, very planet based. I needed to rethink the action so I could add a spaceship and a space battle or two.
So I left the story in limbo and went and did something else, which was checking out Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. (On line, of course, although I’d love to visit.) One or two people have encouraged me to write another Black Tiger story and since tiger conservation is dear to my heart, it made sense. (For those who don’t know, all profits from ‘Black Tiger’ go to tiger conservation.
I watched a string of videos and read the stories about these cats and how they are treated. Tigers, lions, leopards and the like are not house pets. You cannot take the ‘wild’ out of them. One of the most telling statements I heard/read was that while a tiger will fight to the death for her cubs and is a wonderful mother, when they are grown there isn’t any lingering love. A tiger will fight its mother for territory. She’s just another rival. So bleating “but I reared him from a cub” when the cat turns and bites you isn’t worth a piece of… anything. In a number of cases, cats have injured or killed their ‘owners’. And some of the conditions these poor beasts were kept in… look for yourself. Check some of the other stories, too. And read the stories about cubs exploited in ‘pay for petting‘ practices.
Well, all of a sudden I had my story. I hesitated for a few days, coming up with a powerful villain who could match – indeed, defeat – my two weretiger protagonists, Ash and Sally. I’m having fun again, enjoying the difficult process of writing a book. Half the profits for this book will go to a US tiger rescue group. Not because it’ll help tigers survive in the wild – it won’t – but because these beasts don’t deserve to be abused for the sake of human exploitation and greed. I admire what BCR and Carolina Tiger Rescue are doing (I’m sure there are others), and fully support their actions to ban people from keeping exotic animals as pets. In Australia, you need special permits to allow you to keep reptiles or protected native birds. You’ll only find a tiger in a real, accredited, zoo, not stuck in a tiny, concrete cage at a gas station like Tony the truck stop tiger.
I’ve mentioned elsewhere that there are more tigers in backyards and ‘zoos’ in the US than there are in the wild. But those cats are usually born in America, they are hybrids derived from matings between whichever tigers are around. You think puppy farms are bad? And (like cats and dogs) most of these beasts will live miserable lives and end up dead, killed for their hides and body parts.
OK, time to get off the soapbox. Breathe deeply…
Now then, back to writing and being diverted from a project…
Has something like this ever happened to any of my writer friends? Please share.
This image was recently posted on Facebook’s “I Fucking Love Science” page. The guys there are happy to share, so here it is for those who missed it.
Yes, I know life doesn’t HAVE to be confined to the Goldilocks zone (the space around a star where liquid water could exist). After all, life doesn’t have to look like Earth life. And nobody is suggesting that ‘life’ means technology. And nobody is suggesting that there might be lots of excellent reasons why life didn’t form on these planets, or why beings like us couldn’t exist on those planets. I talked about this a bit here.
However. 500 million is a very big number. Let’s do something else totally unscientific and suggest that just 1% of those planets have life. That’s 50,000. Too optimistic? What about .01%. That’s 5,000.
Anybody want to lay bets that there is no life out there? No, me either.
I’m taking Black Tiger on a blog tour. Come along and find out all about a spooky, huge, black kitty. No, not like a were-wolf. No pack, for a start.
My first stop is at Vamps and Stuff Come on over and say g’day.
And check here tomorrow for the next stop. Remember, all profits from the book will go to tiger conservation.
I tell you a bit more about Black Tiger http://marvelgirls.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/greta-van-der-rol-black-tiger-interview/
My latest novel, Black Tiger, was released early this month and I don’t mind admitting I expected to make a few sales. My space opera, Morgan’s Choice, had been in the top 100 best sellers on Amazon for three months and my other SF romance titles, Iron Admiral: Conspiracy, Iron Admiral: Deception and Starheart (along with the shorts) were doing fairly well, dragged along in the slipstream. Surely the people who bought those books would buy this new one?
I’d trumpeted my intentions on my usual venues – Twitter, the blog, Facebook author page. I wrote a number of articles about the new book, showed off the cover. What else was I going to do?
Blog tour? I decided against it. I’ve done them before, with limited outcomes. I think they’re overdone and I’m not at all sure they attract too many new people, so you’re just preaching to the converted.
Kindle select? No. I’d done that with Starheart and although the results were reasonable, several people had asked for formats other than Kindle.
Giveaways? I figured I’d given away enough books to prove I produce a quality product. I’ve given away plenty of copies of my earlier books on blog tours, discounts and the like. I’d had limited success from Goodreads giveaways, in terms of increased sales. Putting a book on the ‘to be read’ list on Goodreads doesn’t necessarily mean much at all, in my experience – and I’ve done the Goodreads giveaways four times. Besides, all profits from Black Tiger will go to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation to help support tiger conservation. Giving the book away defeats the purpose.
Online book launch via Facebook? Again, I’m not at all sure how successful these are. I’ve been to quite a few, and really, the usual choir turns up. I don’t think Facebook was ever a great place to market. The entreaties to ‘buy my book’ are so common, and getting worse. Everbody sells but I wonder how many buy?
Advertising? Yes, I had to get the message out somehow, and this book was a different genre. So I bought a big ad on The Romance Reviews and an advertising spot on The Cheap. I haven’t noticed a surge in sales. The ads are pointed at Amazon, but maybe buyers are going to Omnilit or Smashwords.
What else? Buy reviews? (I have my tongue in my cheek, given the recent furore on that subject) I don’t think so. I’ll wait to see what readers have to say. That said, I have sent copies to a couple of reviewers and I’m waiting in hope for the results.
The book has only been out for a very short time. Still, my experience so far underlines the message that writing in a different genre can be a dangerous endeavour. I did consider releasing the book under a different name but if I’d done that, I would have had to build an audience from scratch. At least by publishing under my own name I thought some of my SF or hist fic readers would try the book. Without a doubt, I was right.
Ah, well. It’s early days. Patience (as they say) is a virtue. Any ideas, people? Do you disagree with my assessment?
If you follow my blog, you’ll know my book Black Tiger is out at an online retailer near you. It’s a paranormal romance set in India, Melbourne and Hong Kong, and the Royal Bengal Tiger is the centrepiece of the action. Why tigers? Why India?
I’ve had a love affair with India for a long time, ever since university where I studied Indian history as part of my BA (Hons). I’ve tried my best to portray a contemporary Indian setting in what is a fantasy novel. If my Indian readers note any mistakes, I ask their forgiveness and their indulgence, because I’ve written this book for the tigers.
I’ve always been an animal lover and like many other people, I adore the big cats, especially that magnificent solitary hunter, the tiger. I was horrified to learn that there are less than three thousand tigers still in the wild. Their numbers dwindle every year, through poaching and habitat destruction. In such a crowded country as India, the vast tracts of land needed for a viable wild tiger population can be difficult to justify. To its credit, the Indian Government has set aside large areas and removed villages in places like Pench to provide habitat. The development of tiger parks for tourists wishing to see the tigers in the wild is a viable way of conserving the tigers, as well as providing employment for the people. It’s worked well in Africa and here in Australia, where humpback whales have recovered from the brink of extinction and people flock to see them in the waters near where I live.
The alternative is to see them in zoos. Did you know there are more Bengal tigers in the US than there are in the wild? They’re in legitimate zoos, private zoos and private hands. As a result, there is a Big Cat Rescue organization in Florida which provides a sanctuary for ‘unwanted, abused or abandoned big cats.’ In 2011, the owner of a private zoo released all his animals, then shot himself. The police were forced to shoot many of the roaming animals, including eighteen Bengal tigers. Tigers are not pets; they don’t belong in zoos – even if we must have some in controlled environments to ensure their survival.
Poaching is a disgusting business. Tradition dies hard, but it’s pretty hard to justify the use of tiger body parts in traditional medicine. Ingesting bits of tiger doesn’t make you a tiger and the compounds which come from the tiger parts are all now produced synthetically. This article on Wikipedia gives a list of uses made of the parts of a tiger’s body, and the ways in which poachers make their kill. It’s interesting reading.
The prognosis is not good. Without support and action, tigers will be extinct in the wild in decades, if not less.
You know William Blake’s immortal poem?
Tyger, tiger, burning bright in the forests of the night
It will be a sad day indeed if that bright light is extinguished forever. The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation fights for the preservation of animal species. They need all the money they can raise. You can donate here or if you can’t afford much, buy Black Tiger and know that all profits will go to that organisation.
I’ve written a romance. Not an action-packed adventure with a dollop of romance, an action-packed romance with a dollop of paranormal. Or something like that. But whatever it is, it’s certainly a boy-meets-girl romance.
What I’m trying to say is that after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, Black Tiger is out there.
Here’s the blurb
He haunts the jungle – and her dreams
When Dr. Sally Carter travels to India to regroup from a broken heart the last thing she wants is to fall in love. But Raja Asoka (Ash) Bhosle is entirely too attractive to ignore, even though she knows it can only end in tears. Hers.
Ash guards his forest and the precious creatures within it, protecting the rare tigers from mindless slaughter, and a secret that lives in legend. From the moment he sets eyes on the Australian doctor, he wants her, even over the objections of his mother and the unsuitability of her cultural heritage.
While Ash fights tiger poachers, Sally struggles against cultural prejudice. Can the Legend of the Black Tiger be the bond that brings them closer together, or will it be an impossible belief that rips them apart. The closer Sally comes to understanding what the legend means, the more frequent the nightmares become. Is she losing her sanity, or is there more to Sally than she herself knows? The answers lie buried in her past.
When the Black Tiger breaks free to stalk the night, only one thing will control the beast.
As I’ve explained on my blog previously, this book is my small contribution to wild tiger conservation. All profits will be donated to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. So fork out less than the cost of a cup of coffee and do a small part to keep that
tyger, tyger, burning bright
in the forests of the night
There’s room on this planet for them, too, roaming wild and free as nature intended.
I’m a great believer in adding little details to a story that set it firmly in its place. To me, the names of streets or what people are using or playing increases the feel of ‘real’. But I guess we authors are faced with a few dangers and a few cringe factors.
Dangers first. If you’re going to use a real small town for your setting it may be safer to use an assumed name, especially if you’re going to diss the place. Same with the local hamburger joint, even if, in reality, it’s one of those big ones seen all around the world. I probably don’t need to add that you’re open for libel (or is it slander?) if you run down a real person in your novel. This article gives a good discussion of the dilemma.
Cringe factors is a whole different issue. Here I’m talking about things which are not important to the plot, add local colour, but may be obscure to a large portion of your intended audience. Let’s get to the nub of why I’m writing this post; my latest book Black Tiger which will be released later this year, includes a love story between an Indian man and an Australian woman. One thing that Indians and Australians will very likely have in common is at least a basic understanding of the game of cricket. To make this abundantly clear for my American readers, the second most important job in Australia (after the prime minister) is captain of the Australian cricket team. India is cricket-mad. Village kids will find anything to use as a wicket and improvise a bat if they don’t have one, all trying hard to be Sachin Tendulkar. Cricket players have rock star status over there. Don’t believe me? Watch this. So I feel if I don’t talk about the cricket in my book, it’s not natural. A few people saw an early draft of this book in which my two characters have only just met. Here’s an excerpt
“Tell me, do you like cricket?” he asked.
“Oh, well, in Australia you can’t avoid it. Bit like here, I suppose.”
“Yes, I do like cricket,” she went on. “But not the slap and giggle twenty-twenty stuff. I like test cricket where it’s like a game of chess. You know? Tactics and strategy.”
“So true.” He flashed her an approving glance. “Where you need patience and guile, not just explosive flamboyance, although it’s good to have that, too. But guile is why your Shane Warne was such an exceptional bowler.”
No, it’s not important to the plot – although the reference to ‘ patience and guile, not just explosive flamboyance’ could just as well fit a tiger and the words were chosen deliberately.
American readers commented that they knew nothing about cricket but it didn’t really matter, while Australians have suggested it’s all too hard for those outside the knowledge. But then, plenty of American books have references to baseball, which has a tiny following in Australia, and grid-iron, which is not played here.
So what do you think? Can you share examples – or comment on my tiny excerpt?