The Delicate Affair of Colonel Baquiste
The Delicate Affair of Colonel Baquiste
by Luki Belle
GENRE: Adult Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Paranormal Suspense, Military Thriller
The setting: two fictitious nations, Hastan and Llehstanz, in a past imaginary era of colonization.
The Llehstanz Monarchy won its final battle over Hastan to colonize the nation after years of war. The battlefield charge was led by a reputable, young, ruthless, and handsome Colonel Valstohl Baquiste. Highly skilled but equally arrogant, he holds a prejudice against the people of Hastan. Tragically, Colonel Baquiste was unexpectedly attacked during the last battle leaving him physically disabled. Realizing his military life is over, the embittered Colonel Baquiste awaits his dismissal to return to Llehstanz. However, he is offered a second chance for victory.
Colonel Baquiste is called back to military duty on a secret mission. He must go alone in disguise to capture elusive thugs terrorizing the Llehstanzite regiment. In accepting the mission, Baquiste realizes he is no longer fighting an enemy on a battleground when he travels to stay at the palace of renowned Southern Hastana landowner, Sir Bojeshnomaan Yervaan. Yervaans’ sinister nature ensnares Baquiste while the delicate assignment compels him to confront his tragic past and his prejudice against Hastanas. If the ambitious Colonel wants victory, it will require him to use not just his grit but also his heart.
Well, when you meet my Jeshn and you see the way he is, you will see how I dread every time he steps out of the palace grounds until the moment he returns when I can touch his face and see him alive, uninjured. Farmers don’t give up farming because this land is all they have to live on, to feed their families, to earn a living, most of which your monarchy takes away from me and if it were not for me, the widow of a landowner, the farmers would be starving and dying from the thugs and the diseased who terrorize the Daikalin people and us!” her voice was shaking from emotions which she appeared to hold back.
About the Author:
Luki Belle works in the media industry. Storytelling was a fixture from childhood when she would listen to stories told by her grandparents, parents, sisters, and cousins who would read to her from diverse cultural fiction books. Growing up, Luki was fortunate to live in various parts of the world and experience beautiful cultures. During this time, she embraced and appreciated diversity among people while recognizing through love, overcoming pain, or grief, one can truly bond with others leading to unimaginable positive outcomes.
Q&A With The Author
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
This book became a meditational journey for me shortly after I conceived of the idea and understood why I wanted to write The Delicate Affair of Colonel Baquiste (TDACB).
Having been born and grown up in post-colonial countries, having been on the receiving end of hate, racism, and prejudice I wanted to explore a male character who was on the colonizing side who will be a military man, ruthless, arrogant, and prejudiced, to see what could compel such a man to have a change of heart. That was the initial inspiration for TDACB, which morphed into a very, very complex novel once I started thinking more about it. While writing this story I learned that individuals, situations, and events are never absolutes. TDACB became a means for me to self-heal with an aspiration to believe that it is possible to overcome prejudice if we recognize that in our human imperfections lie the opportunity for change and the power to choose towards a positive outcome. If we were perfect and absolute, change would not be possible, if we all put our anger out into the world it would be destructive. But, if we helped ourselves compassionately, we would inevitably help others positively.
I therefore ended up exploring several themes in my book through my characters, such as the impact of psychological masks, impact of uniforms, social and gender roles in the midst of culture and tradition, the test of civility during times of change, the empowerment of individual choice, how imperfections in us are vital for change – hopefully positive ones, bonding over grief, the power of observation when one is given the permission to be someone else. I have also explored the benefits of discipline and duty that comes through wearing a uniform and at the same time contrasted the impact of misusing the uniform. A fine thread that knits the themes together is the question of assimilation in the face of change and how to find the opportunity for progress without destruction. I explored all these themes through the lens of colonization because of my personal life’s experience, to aspire that positive change is possible if we can give ourselves the permission to explore a situation and a person through a different lens while being civil, patient and staying curious to learn.
It all begins with self-healing and the means to do that is to learn to change our psychological masks by allowing ourselves to immerse in another person’s world, to view the world through a different lens, to take off, even if momentarily, any forced uniform and imposed roles and to disguise ourselves, if only to catch a glimpse of our own former self and to understand the world from a different perspective.
Exploring all these facets led to a profound meditational journey for me in writing TDACB, which I really cherished!
Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tells us about?
Yes, I would love to! My second novel, a collection of paranormal short stories with all female protagonists, is currently in production with my publisher. I am also in second draft mode for my third novel, a fantasy genre, with many characters and it is a full-length story.
Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future?
After my second and third novel gets published, I will begin outlining the sequel for The Delicate Affair of Colonel Baquiste (TDACB). Oh yes! I wrote it such that there will be a sequel :)
How long have you been writing?
For 16 years.
Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Yes, I would love to share with my wonderful readers and fans what they might enjoy when reading The Delicate Affair of Colonel Baquiste :)
In TDACB, the Colonel goes under disguise to fulfill a military mission while immersing himself in the same society that was conquered by his nation, by the military of the Llehstanz Monarchy. Under the disguise of naturalist Gulaan Dasmire, is the Colonel able to see his actual self (Valstohl Baquiste) and begins to reconcile Valstohl’s tragic past. The persona of Gulaan and Valstohl is examined by the Colonel only in disguise which ultimately leads to Colonel Baquiste’s delicate change of heart and allows him to reconcile his past grief.
However, things could have gone very differently for the Colonel if he chose differently and choice is something I emphasize in my novel, humans must choose and even the act of saying or doing nothing is an act of choice. What I beautifully learned while writing TDACB, which holds true to my own personal experience is that positive messages and factors are never the loudest. They are usually the gentle nudges that you get along the way in the journey of life, coaxing you into choosing towards beneficial progress. I depict this in several ways throughout my novel (no spoilers), to nudge the Colonel into accepting something he has been consciously, subconsciously, and unconsciously denying or has been avoiding. In contrast, I have found from my personal life experiences that the negative factors scream the loudest and the Colonel sure had his share of tragic events that impacted him.
Moreover, none of the other characters in TDACB are spared from choosing. Master Jeshn Yervaan’s choice mattered the most and I have found myself asking many a times how I would have chosen differently if I were him. Perhaps it is also something the reader can consider as well. And very important to note that there were domino effects from decisions that were made by Colonel Valstohl Baquiste and Master Jeshn Yervaan. This is so pertinent to our lives because we do not exist in isolation, and we must try our best to assess how our individual choice can ultimately affect those directly and indirectly connected to us. We are all empowered in some way or another to choose. Even a child is empowered to choose as is shown by the Hastana boy Chamcham who is at the center of the tense relationship between Gulaan (Valstohl) and Jeshn. While the boy is impacted by choices made by the adults around him, he too is empowered, and he makes a couple of bold and brave decisions.
Now to choose we must observe first, and this is another very important aspect that I hope my readers and fans might enjoy in TDACB. The act of observation is a key trigger to most events in the novel and I am hopeful that the reader will find the very subtle act of observation that started the story, only at the end of the story (it will almost be like an aha moment). To help you identify that aha point I would like to point out that what we observe is impacted as much as we who are observing are impacted. An observation does not necessarily have to last for minutes or hours, it could be in a matter of seconds, and it is about what gets transpired, in that split fleeting moment, by what observes you or what you observe. Think about it? Our brain is super powerful, and it does make very fast decisions. So, see if you can identify what was the key observation trigger that started off the story for Colonel Valstohl Baquiste, once you get near the end :) Layering upon the theme of observation and in conjunction with the act of being in disguise, I would also like to point out that the Colonel is able to observe himself objectively as Valstohl while being in disguise as Gulaan. Many monologues are possible for the Colonel only through this means and it is ultimately his way to reconcile tragedy and prejudice.
Finally, in the path to self-healing and or reconciliation it is important to be empathetic to oneself as well as to others who impacted you negatively. To do this one must try to imagine. It is easy to create the negative story about what is unknown to fill in the gaps, the brain does not like gaps, and it will create its own conclusion, its own image and story to be able to happily put away something that is nagging or open ended. In TDACB, I intentionally create a latitude for the reader to be able to imagine the past of the characters and the events that could have led to an outcome which the Colonel experiences. The reader can imagine Valstohl Baquiste’s military past, the Yervaans’ past, what led to Lieutenant Colonel Brune Farmagash’s decision in chapter 13. Even the Colonel is forced to imagine what happened to his father and what decisions could have led to the fateful night at the Yervaan palace many years ago from the present moment in the story. Imagination keeps us alive, and it can also get us into trouble, but it has the beauty and the potential to make us empathize with another when we do not know what led to another human’s actions and words. Imagination is a powerful tool if we can use it positively :)
I do sincerely hope that my potential readers will enjoy The Delicate Affair of Colonel Baquiste, as much as I loved writing it and learning from the characters!
Luki Belle will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
a Rafflecopter giveaway