Zora doesn’t appear until halfway through The Leopard, yet she is one of the central characters of the story in the two volumes of Marakand. She’s a temple dancer — and common S&S clichés notwithstanding, that doesn’t mean what you may think. Zora was hiding secrets when she gained admission to the temple of the Lady, and with her term of service nearly over, is wrestling with her choices for the future. It will be hard to explain anything about that without giving away too much, so, what else can I say? She entered the temple under false pretences, her loyalties are not with the goddess she professes to serve, and one decision changes everything.
I had Indian classical dance in mind when conceiving of the danced prayers of Marakand.
Since I can’t say too much about Zora, I’ll talk about the Voice of the Lady, here, as well. The Voice, first mentioned in Blackdog, is a priestess and prophet who speaks for the goddess of the deep well of Marakand. Only the folk of the temple know that the Voice fell into madness after the great earthquake that devastated the city thirty years earlier, though rumours do abound. Writing the Voice, as the book progressed and her mental state decayed, was fascinating. I wanted to convey a severely disordered mind, thoughts spilling out in a klaidoscopic jumble, and yet, since I was trying to tell a story, I needed to have some sense in it still. A true schizophrenic ‘word salad’ would convey nothing and rapidly become tiresome to read. I tried to achieve an impression of that desperate spewing of words, while retaining some logic and pattern, however broken.
As with Blackdog and The Leopard, Raymond Swanland has done a beautiful cover for The Lady (the second part of Marakand, coming out in December 2014), in which Zora plays a central role. #SFWApro