Saturday, June 9, 2012

Interviewing Genghis Khan

Trundling along through the Author Blog Challenge. And now, for a new prompt:

Describe the research process for your book. Did you interview people? Travel? How prominent a role did the Internet play? If you didn’t do new research, how did you learn what you needed to know to write your book? 

I sure wish I could have interviewed Genghis Khan! That would have been cool. Of course, there's the ruthless killer thing... oh! and the language barrier thing... But I think we could have gotten past all that and become great friends! I'm sure the dude had a wicked sense of humor, too.

Seriously, research for my book included reading Genghis Khan by John Man. He had been to Mongolia and studied the man and the customs. It was a very informative book. I also got a lot of articles through the library at my college; then held on to them for the last eight years. Yes, I am a nerd. So what? So is Bill Gates. Food for thought there!

Wikipedia articles are actually based off a lot of Man's book, so they didn't tell me much that I didn't already know.

I read and consumed and notated and read some more. Finally, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, "Jo, seriously? You know enough. Go write your book!" And I did.

What has always fascinated me about Genghis Khan was his relationship with his wife. None of that is in the history books; it all came out of my head. I know when they met and can approximate when they were married but I had to do some serious swinging of dates to make it work the way I needed it to.

Check this out: at age nine, Temujin is taken by his father to meet Borte. Temujin's father is then murdered on the way home. Because the kid was the one chosen to take over, he had to go tell his people their lives were in his hands.

Can you imagine being ruled/governed by a nine-year-old? Yeah, well, neither could they. They left his family to the wolves. After that, it all goes downhill for the poor kid. He does end up marrying Borte, only to have her kidnapped about a week later (during their journey to Temujin's home) by a rival tribe and sold to another man as a wife. Talk about adding insult to injury! People wonder why he killed so much...

All of that is 100% truth. You learn his story in the book. I won't reveal any more here. If you want to find out, you gotta read Yassa. I thought Genghis was this big, burly guy who couldn't care less for human life or his family. I was wrong. He is one of the most interesting characters I have ever researched. I put him up there with Queen Elizabeth I. She intrigued me as well.

All of the relationship stuff in the book (my story is character driven) comes from my relationship with my boyfriend. I put myself in Temujin's shoes and pictured how I would react/feel if I went through what he did. So, I guess you could say my own relationship gave me a lot of the information I needed to write Yassa.

Enough of my ramblings! You should go check out the book. Here is the link to my bibliography on a page on this blog. Enjoy it!

Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. My husband loves historical fiction and has read two series by Conn Iggulden. One was on Julius Caeser, and the other was on Genghis/Kublai Khan. You sound like you've done a great deal of research and I wish you the best of luck with Yassa.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment! I read his first book on Genghis Khan when doing my market research. His book was amazing but focused more on the battles and conquests of Genghis. Mine throws those into the background as white noise and focuses instead on the relationships and the things in his life that occurred and shaped him into the man he became. I go through his inner struggles, rather than his outer ones. Thanks for the well wishes!


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