Blog Hop: Meet my character – Laila Sulaiman

arabicMaria Alexander very kindly tagged me in an exciting blog hop where we get to ‘Meet My Character’. Maria’s stories have appeared in publications such as Chiaroscuro Magazine, and Paradox, as well as numerous acclaimed anthologies. Her debut novel, Mr. Wicker, comes out September 16, 2014 from Raw Dog Screaming Press.  You can visit her website and blog, and Facebook page. You can find her on Twitter as @LaMaupin.

My character, Laila Sulaiman, has been lurking in the recesses of my mind for a few years and pretty much came to be after the plot and antagonist had already assembled themselves in at least a rough outline.  At that time I knew what was going to happen, and why, but I didn’t know to whom.  My initial thoughts were that it would be someone that I could easily relate to – maybe a man with a background in martial arts, a taste for rock music, and a career in security.  Maybe he had long hair and rode a trike.  You know something that I could not only easily relate to but easily write.

Something about that rankled a little, though.

The word ‘easily’.

The voices in my head that tell me to write about them were not just whispering about this story, and this character, they were shouting.  They wanted both to be something special.  And that’s when Laila first ‘spoke’ and said hey why not me?  And it was a very good question indeed.

As I didn’t have a good answer for why not her – why not a female protagonist – I listened as Laila told me a little bit about herself and, as she did, I realised that it wasn’t that I had a better choice in who would become the lead in this novel but that there was no other choice.

Strong. Determined. Driven. Stubborn. Hurt. Talented. Passionate.

These were all words that I thought of when I thought of Laila in those early days.

A survivor. An outcast. Alone but not lonely. A minority. A women who has lost her faith. Damaged but not broken.

The things that had shaped her, even if they never made it into the book, began to take form in my head and then on paper.  I knew where shad had grown up and went to school.  I knew what her favourite food had been as a child.  What music she had liked.  What she had wanted to be when she grew up.

More importantly I knew what would have happened to make none of that important, or actually happen, for the Laila Sulaiman that we meet in the opening chapters.

Living and working just inside Williamsburg, in in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, Laila Sulaimain owns and runs one of the City’s most exclusive tattoo studios, a place the rich and famous queue to get into. Her acquaintances – of which there are many – think that she has it made: success, fame, money, and a lifestyle that is punctuated by party after party.  Her friend – of which there is one, Mercedes ‘Merry’ Waters, – knows that while she does have success, fame, money, and a party lifestyle but also that she drinks too much, sleeps around too much and, is not living life but just getting through it.

A run in with one of Hollywood’s A list actors, during a tattoo session, sends Laila’s life spiralling into confrontations with the police, Middle Eastern organised crime and, finally, something out of her childhood fairytales, as her history – both recent and very distant – explode together in events that will change everything that she believes in and her life forever.

Or end it.

Laila Sulaiman will be introduced in the pages of Djinn, book one of the Blood Ties trilogy, very soon.

Be sure to check out the following fabulous authors joining in next week, September 11th, in the ‘Meet my Character’ Blog Hop:

C. Michelle Jefferies practically grew up in a library. The oldest daughter of four, she spent hours devouring books with her mother. When she was ten, she realized that she wanted to write stories like the science fiction books she loved to read. In high school, she met another writer that inspired her to write a novel instead of just short stories. She finished that 189 page handwritten novel the summer of her junior year. 

A mother of seven, she put her writing on the back burner while she focused on raising her young children, and volunteering as a breastfeeding counselor in her community. When her children were old enough for her to spend a few hours on the computer, without them burning the house down, she returned to writing and hasn’t stopped since. Often writing or editing with a baby in her arms or under her feet. 

Married to the guy her high school boyfriend introduced her to; she claims the last 20 + years as her education and mission experience. With a love for natural mothering, and a passion for secret agents and all things Asian she writes about bad boys turned good and fantasy of the urban type. All while beating herself up three times a week in Karate class as she works toward her black belt in Tang Soo Do.


Alex Laybourne was born and raised in the coastal English town Lowestoft, it should come as no surprise (to those that have the misfortune of knowing this place) that I became a horror writer.

From an early age I was sent to schools which were at least 30 minutes drive away and so spent the most of my free time alone, as the friends I did have lived too far away for me to be able to hang out with them in the weekends or holidays.

I have been a writer as long as I can remember and have always had a vivid imagination. To this very day I find it all too easy to just drift away into my own mind and explore the world I create, where the conditions always seem to be just perfect for the cultivation of ideas, plots, scenes, characters and lines of dialogue everything basically, and when the time is right, I can simply pluck them from the allotment of my mind serve them up on the pages of whatever work is to be their home.

I am married and have four children and my biggest dream for them is that they grow up and spend their lives doing what makes them happy, whatever that is.

James Walley arrived  in the rainy isle of Great Britain in the late ’70s and quickly became an enthusiast of all things askew. Whilst growing up in a quaint little one horse town that was one horse short, a steady diet of movies, ’50s sci fi and fantasy fiction finally convinced him to up sticks and move to Narnia — also known to the layman as Wales. Since there was no available qualification in talking lion taming or ice sculpture, he settled for a much more humdrum degree in something vague but practical, and set out to find a talking lion to make an ice sculpture of.

Mystifyingly finding himself behind the desk of a nine to five job, he kept himself sane by singing in a rock band, memorizing every John Carpenter movie ever made, and learning the ancient art of voodoo. Finally deciding to put his hyperactive imagination to good use, he ditched the voodoo and picked up a pen. A few months later, his debut novel, The Forty First Wink, was born. With a clutch of short stories in the offing, James is now loving his new life as an author, and still sings when plied with alcohol or compliments.

He also recently developed a penchant for fiercely embellishing his past. He really was a singer, although The Forty First Wink may not have brought about world peace. Yet.