Monday, March 20, 2017

{Character Interview} Dhara of 'The Mountain Goddess' by Shelley Schanfield

We’re thrilled to be talking to Dhara from Shelley Schanfield’s, The Mountain Goddess.  It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Pimp That Character!

Thank you for your interview, Dhara.  How old are you and what do you do for a living?

I’m twenty six now, but I must tell you that when I was fifteen I could already talk to tigers and vanish into thin air! You see, as a girl I ran away from my little village to a sacred Himalayan cave to study with a mysterious woman yogi. She promised she’d teach me yoga’s supernatural powers. I frightened her with how gifted I was—and still am.

Can you tell us about one of your most distinguishable features?

I’m descended from a beautiful celestial nymph who seduced the god Himalaya, and I inherited her silky black hair and dark, almond-shaped eyes.

What would I love the most about you?

I am passionately loyal to those I love. Like my best friend Sakhi. Or I was loyal to her, until I ran away and became a powerful yogi and warrior and captured Prince Siddhartha’s heart. In the years since I became his princess, Sakhi and I have drifted apart…but it’s not all my fault! And I’ll make it up to her, I swear…

What would I hate the most about you?

I am so good at so many things—archery and riding and yoga and, well, everything—and I’m beautiful, too. All Prince Siddhartha’s companions are in love with me. So the women at court hate me. You might, too, but when you read my story, you’ll understand me. Understanding begets love. I’m selfish, but I’m brave, too, and I want to fight for my kingdom!

What is your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is that my husband Siddhartha will give in to his secret yearning. There was a prophecy when he was born that he would forsake his royal duty and become a Buddha, the wisest sage to ever live. He might slip away to become a homeless truth seeker and leave me here alone with our newborn son. How can I be a mother, the most unselfish of all beings, without him? If only I could talk to my beloved friend Sakhi…

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

It was hard work on my part to get Shelley to ignore how the legends about the Buddha portray me.  Some of them say I was a saint, some say I was unfaithful, some hardly mention me at all! In the end, though, I think Shelley put me on the page as I really am.

What are three must haves when shopping at the grocery store?

I’m a princess and I don’t shop at grocery stores; besides, there weren’t such things in northeastern India 2500 years ago! While I was living at the sacred cave I learned to survive on what mountain and forest had to offer. So I’m not afraid of hardship, even if I’ve become accustomed to palace luxury, and this serves me well in these difficult times.

(I think, though, if I were living in your day and age, I would always have bittersweet chocolate around. Shelley always does!)

Who is your best friend?

As I’ve said, Sakhi is my best friend. She’s modest and wise and a good mother to her five sons. I even think Siddhartha is a little in love with her. (I’m not jealous. Really.) But she’s not perfect either. Rumor says she’s taken a lover…

Someone is secretly in love with you.  Who is it and how do you feel about that?

No one is secretly in love with me. All Siddhartha’s companions openly adore their warrior princess! Here’s the real secret: I love Siddhartha’s best friend, that charming rogue Chandaka, and I don’t know what to do about it…

If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?

Everyone should ask herself this question the first thing every morning, but who among us does? There will be a day, though, in the sequel to The Mountain Goddess, when its answer will truly mean life or death for me. You’ll want to read that book, too, when it comes out in 2018.

About the Author

Shelley Schanfield’s passion for Buddhism and yoga arose sixteen years ago, when she and her son earned black belts in Tae Kwon Do. The links between the martial arts and Buddhist techniques to calm and focus the mind fascinated her. By profession a librarian, Shelley plunged into research about the time, place, and spiritual traditions that 2500 years ago produced Prince Siddhartha, who became the Buddha. Yoga, in some form, has a role in all of these traditions. Its transformational teachings soon prompted Shelley to hang up her black belt and begin a yoga practice that she follows to this day.

Because she loves historical fiction, Shelley looked for a good novel about the Buddha. When she didn’t find one that satisfied her, she decided to write her own novels based on the spiritual struggles of women in the Buddha’s time. She published the first book in the Sadhana Trilogy, The Tigress and the Yogi, in 2016 and will publish the second, The Mountain Goddess in early 2017.


About the Book:

A beautiful warrior princess. A tormented prince. A terrible choice between love, duty, and spiritual freedom.

In ancient India, rebellious Dhara runs away to a sacred mountain to study with the powerful yogi Mala, a mysterious woman with a violent past. Flung by war onto an adventure-filled journey, Dhara meets and captures the heart of Siddhartha, whose skill in the martial arts and extraordinary mental powers equal her own.

Worldly power and pleasure seduce Dhara, creating a chasm between her and her husband, who longs to follow a sage’s solitary path. She takes on the warrior’s role Siddhartha does not want, and when she returns wounded from battle court intrigue drives them further apart. As Siddhartha’s discontent with royal life intensifies, Dhara’s guru Mala, who has returned to her life as a ruthless outlaw, seeks her former pupil for her own evil purposes.

Dhara’s and Siddhartha’s love keeps evil at bay, but their son’s birth brings on a spiritual crisis for the prince.  If he leaves his kingdom to seek enlightenment, he turns his back on love and duty and risks destroying his people. Only Dhara can convince him to stay. 


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