Dear prospective reader,
Thank you for visiting my site.
Time is in short supply and attention spans are shorter still, so I’ll go straight to the point. I’ve written this book called Black Queen, White City and I think you should read it. You can buy it here:
You’re probably thinking, “Why should I buy this book? Why should I read it? Why should I care about this book at all?”
To help you find the answers to to at least some of those questions, I’ve have voluntarily undergone a five-minute interview with a hypothetical personage referred to as the Casual Website Visitor (CWV). You can read the full transcript below.
Casual Website Visitor: So, what is this book you’re talking about?
Sonya Kudei: Set in contemporary Zagreb, Croatia (the “White City” of folklore), Black Queen, White City is a high-concept literary fantasy novel inspired by local history, myths and legends as well as drawing on an eclectic mix of influences, including Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Pratchett and Gaiman’s Good Omens, Dante’s The Divine Comedy, C.G. Jung, superhero comics and classic 1980s movies.
CWV: That sounds like something taken out of an Amazon description page.
SK: Well, that’s because that’s exactly what it is.
CWV: So what’s the actual story? Who are the main characters?
SK: All right, so it goes like this…first, there is this guy called Leo Solar, who is a star daimon.
CWV: A what?
SK: A star daimon. A celestial being with powers so vast that he can literally blow up a sun (but not in a bad way – it’s all perfectly safe).
CWV: How do you pronounce “daimon”?
SK: Well, the word is of ancient Greek origin, so if you’re trying to be classical about it or if you’re just showing off, you’d pronounce it something like “dah-ee-mon.” That’s at least how it sounds in my head. But I suppose you can also pronounce it like “demon” or even like the “damon” part of “Matt Damon.” I wouldn’t recommend it though.
CWV: Why do you have to make things so difficult?
SK: I’m sorry. It’s a character flaw of sorts. But if it’s any consolation, in the early drafts of the novel, the word was “agathodaimon.” So, you see, “daimon” is actually an improvement.
CWV: Fine, whatever. So does this Leo star daimon do anything other than having a confusing name?
SK: Indeed. He gets sent to Earth to undertake a mission that he finds both frustrating and disagreeable. More specifically, he gets sent to his least favorite part of Earth, which just so happens to be Zagreb. And, if you remember, this is where the story is set.
SK: So, you see, there’s a bit of theme in there.
SK: Also, upon his arrival, Leo’s otherwise great powers are radically curtailed, which makes him a bit grumpy, to say the least.
CWV: Why are his powers curtailed?
SK: I’d love to explain the reason, but the details are too intricate to be expounded in a few words. In all honesty, I think it’s best if you just read the book. By the way, here is the buy button. I’ll be doing this a lot throughout this talk.
CWV: Nice one. Can you at least tell me where this Leo gets sent from? I.e. where do these star daimons live?
SK: Ah, yes, nice question – I can see you’ve been paying attention. They all live in the Celestial Realm, which is basically a fancy way of saying “outer space.” This is a place where star daimons with enormous powers and questionable hairstyles perform valiant deeds in order to maintain the balance of the universe while engaging in petty inter-stellar squabbles and meddling with the affairs of Earth.
CWV: How questionable are these hairstyles?
SK: Very questionable. Leo, for example, has what might broadly be described as a mullet.
CWV: Why would I want to read a book about someone like that?
SK: It’s not his fault, all right? He thinks a mullet is normal hair. Besides, there are other characters there as well.
CWV: Like who?
SK: There’s also Dario, a twenty-something former Zagreb University student who lives in the historic city center with his eccentric landlady. His search for meaning is continuously thwarted by the demands of the said landlady.
CWV: His search for the meaning of what?
SK: Oh, you know – life, the universe, and everything.
CWV: Does he find it?
SK: The best way for you to find out is to read the book:
CWV: Ha ha. So what happens to this Dario?
SK: At first, nothing much. But then his life suddenly takes an interesting turn after he accidentally meets a mysterious stranger in a starry outfit who goes around town battling monsters from the Underworld. And the stranger, you guessed it, is Leo.
CWV: And then what?
SK: Action ensues.
CWV: But where did these monsters come from in the first place?
SK: Right, the monsters. There is this other character, an 11-year-old kid called Stella, whose dungeon-like school on the outskirts of East Zagreb is a bit of an evil magnet. One day she and a group of school friends play a creepy playground game that inadvertently awakens the spirit of the fabled Black Queen. As a result, a few of the Black Queen’s most dangerous servants, i.e. shape-shifting monsters, slip out of their death-like confinement and go on a rampage through the city.
CWV: And who is this Black Queen?
SK: She is a semi-mythical 15th century personage who, unbeknownst to the townspeople, still dwells in a deep enchanted chasm under Zagreb’s very own Bear Mountain, despite being somewhat dead.
CWV: So this book, which is supposed to be about the city, actually has both outer space and this enchanted underground place in it?
SK: That is correct. The story involves the Celestial Realm above, the hidden magic realm below and the “ordinary” city of Zagreb somewhere in between. All of these people, realms and fictional constructs come together in an over-caffeinated action-packed culmination on October 31, colloquially referred to by locals as “the Night of the Witches.” So, you see, there’s another theme there.
SK: Also making an appearance are magic trams, football hooligans, belligerent egg-sellers, jaded small dogs, miniature monks, seductive snake-women and sadistic primary school teachers.
CWV: How can you possibly fit all these things into one book?
SK: I could try explaining, but seriously, I think you should just read it. In case you’ve missed the previous half-dozen instances of the “buy book now” link, here it is again:
CWV: Mmmmm-kay. I think I need to ask a few more questions first. For example, I really want to know what’s it like reading Black Queen, White City. What kind of user experience am I to expect?
SK: Imagine extracting the essence of The Lord of the Rings and Good Omens and mixing it with a smorgasbord of classical influences ranging from Dante to Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. Then throw in some literary garnishes as mismatched as Stephen King, Plato, C.G. Jung, a bunch of comics and movies, and then have the whole thing blasted directly into your brain. It’s a bit like that, but with more beard jokes.
CWV: Oh…kay. You’ve mentioned many times that the story is set in Zagreb. How can this be? Books are typically not set in Zagreb. In fact, most of the books I’ve read are set in places that are explicitly not Zagreb.
SK: There is a perfectly logical explanation for this: I grew up in Zagreb, and I also happen to be a strong believer in the “write what you know” adage. Which is to say, I am too lazy to research other locations and prefer to draw on my experiences instead. But since the formative years I spent in Zagreb were eventful ones (at least in an introverted, intellectual way), this shouldn’t be a problem.
CWV: And who would you say this book is suitable for?
SK: Oh, all sorts of people. For example:
- People who like books that are both fantastical and literary at the same time (but not in a boring way)
- People who like movies, or books that feel like watching a movie
- People who don’t mind occasional and completely inappropriate ’80 pop culture references
- People who score high in any of the following types on the Briggs-Myers scale: N, T, F, P
Where are you on that scale, by the way?
CWV: I think I’m a “J.”
SK: Yeah, it figures.
CWV: Is this the only Black Queen, White City book or is there also e.g. a Black Queen, White City Vol. 18, Book 47?
SK: Yes, this is the only book — a first novel; the only novel; a debut. There might be more White-City-themed books in the future if I ever recover from completing this one (and this may involve floating my upside down in a water tank for a year with tubes sticking out of me). By the way, here is the buy link again.
SK: Have I now finally persuaded you to buy the book?
CWV: Hmm…yeah, possibly. But I need to check my “crappy TV show subscriptions and organic avocado smoothie” budget first. If I still haven’t crossed the limit this month, I might order the book.
Black Queen, White City – a novel by Sonya Kudei
Available now in paperback
Genre(s): fantasy/sci-fi, contemporary, literary, humor
Format: 278 pages, large format paperback (6×9”)