Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Guest Post & International Giveaway with Michelle Moran, author of Rebel Queen

Michelle Moran

With every book I write, I discover something about the culture I’m researching which completely blows me away, often because it’s so unusual and something I’ve never encountered before. In the case of my book, REBEL QUEEN, set in India during the British invasion, the concept of Janam Kundlis struck a chord with me, particularly since Janam Kundlis very nearly played a role in my own life and my marriage to my husband, who is Indian.

Also known as an astrological chart, a Janam Kundli is made by a priest for each child in India. No one is sure when the concept of a Janam Kundli came to be, but as Vedic astrology is several thousand years old, it’s not surprising that my protagonist’s Janam Kundli would have looked similar to my husband’s,­ even though they were born more than a hundred years apart. A person’s Janam Kundli includes the details of their birth– time, date, planetary alignments. It also includes other things which aren’t so common in the West, such as that person’s probable future career and who they were in their most recent past life (in my husband’s case, a yogi!).

cover of Janam Kundli

Janam Kundli (inside) - this is Michelle's husbands

Reading a person’s natal chart is serious business. Once a person’s Janam Kundli is created, they will keep that document with them for life, producing it when it’s time for marriage. Even today, Janam Kundlis are used to make prospective matches between brides and grooms throughout India, where the majority of marriages are arranged. And woe betide anyone whose Janam Kundli declares them to be a manglik, or a bad-luck person. If that’s the case, as it was for the famous Bollywood actress and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai, one of two options are available. You can either marry another manglik, thus canceling out your bad-luck status, or you can hire a priest to conduct a variety of ceremonies that will make it possible to marry someone who isn’t a manglik like yourself. This last option, however, is only available if the non-manglik person’s family finds the risk acceptable. In Aishwarya Rai’s case, her in-laws obviously felt the “risk” was worth it, and in 2007 she married a tree before she married her husband, thereby canceling out her bad-luck in this way.

Why a tree? Well, this was something I very nearly discovered myself when my own Janam Kundli was made. Apparently, like Aishwarya Rai, I too am probably a manglik, meaning marriage for me would most likely end in the divorce or death of my spouse. I say probably because my Janam Kundli was done online. The effect, however, was very nearly the same. Major discussions took place as to whether I would need to marry a tree before the wedding could proceed, or whether my Janam Kundli should be discounted since I am not, after all, Indian, and my Janam Kundli hadn’t “officially” been made by a priest.

In the end, it was decided that my husband should take the risk and go for it. I never had to marry a tree or even choose among a variety of clay urns for my groom. Either option, apparently, is acceptable, as it’s believed that a person’s manglik dosh can be canceled out if the manglik person’s bad luck is spent on the first marriage. Thus, the bride first marries a clay urn or a tree, then either breaks the clay urn or chops down her tree-husband in order to become a “widow” (in some places, the tree is allowed to survive). After this, the second marriage is ready to proceed without a hitch.

There are varying interpretations of this ceremony, and even though it didn’t end up affecting me, a person’s Janam Kundli can alter their destiny, just as I describe in the beginning of REBEL QUEEN. It’s cultural gems like these which make researching historical fiction such a pleasure, and it’s these type of details which I try to include in each of my books. As a writer, my hope is that they pique the reader’s interest along the way, and as a reader, they are the sort of facts which help ground me in another place and time.


Thanks Michelle, what a fascinating post ... tough being a manglik!

Regular readers of my blog know how much I love Michelle's books, I've been reading her work since 2008 ... Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, Cleopatra's Daughter, The Second Empress, they've been amongst my favourite reads and I wait impatiently for each new release.  

Connect with Michelle Moran

Rebel Queen

REBEL QUEEN is due for release 3rd March 2015 and to celebrate Michelle is generously offering an autographed copy to one lucky reader of my blog along with a beautiful bangle from India. 

When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the 1850s, it expects a quick and easy conquest. After all, India is not even a country, but a collection of kingdoms on the subcontinent. But when the British arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, expecting its queen to forfeit her crown, they are met with a surprise. Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies—one male, one female—and rides into battle like Joan of Arc. Although her soldiers are little match against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi fights against an empire determined to take away the land she loves.

Told from the perspective of Sita, one of the guards in Lakshmi's all-female army and the queen’s most trusted warrior, The Last Queen of India traces the astonishing tale of a fearless ruler making her way in a world dominated by men. In the tradition of her bestselling novel Nefertiti, which Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, called “a heroic story with a very human heart,” Michelle Moran once again brings a time and place rarely explored in historical fiction to rich, vibrant life.

Easy Peasy ... just leave a comment and just for fun tell me your favourite historical female figure. If you aren't easily contactable via blog, website etc please leave an email address.
+2 tweet giveaway and leave a link

Entries close 15th February and winner will be emailed & announced on my blog. Good luck everyone. 


  1. I enjoy reading about strong women in eras and/or situations where that is not expected, women like the British warrior Boudicca, and Eleanor of Aquitaine. The Empress Teodosia is another one. This novel sounds great. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. I would have to say my favorite is Annie Sullivan :)

  3. What an interesting book and also Michelle's explanation of Janam Kundli! Strong women - well, I've always liked Queen Esther from the Bible and I'll also mention Eleanor Roosevelt as a more contemporary woman.

  4. Being Sri Lankan, I do know that horoscopes matching is an important part of the marriage ritual, though religious ceremonies are used to offset the malignant forces here! Count me in for the giveaway please.

  5. Queen Elizabeth 11. What a great giveaway and wonderful book. Many thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  6. The Janam Kundli - what an amazing background to it, fascinating. Books like these open us up to the intricacies of other cultures. I'm not that much into history but on reflection I'll just go back a little ways and say Kate Sheppard from NZ who was the leader in the women's suffrage movement here.

  7. Wow this was fascinating and loved the details about the astrological charts. I love learning about different cultures and traditions. I will add this novel to my wishlist.

  8. I had no idea, marry a tree hm...I like that

  9. To marry a tree? mmm okay... The first strong woman that comes to mind is Eleanor of Aquitaine and Katherine of Aragon. Very different women but strong in their own way.
    Thank you for the giveaway!

  10. my favorite female historical figure is Princess Diana.........

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  11. My favorite historical figure is definitely Cleopatra. Thank you so much for the giveaway, I'm so excited about this book :)
    sharlinemata at gmail dot com

  12. Janam Kundlis - absolutely fascinating! I like how you can approach it practically by marrying a tree or urn first and getting rid of the bad luck. My favourite historical female character? It would have to be Cleopatra ...

  13. I was brought up in India and learned lot about Rani Lakshmi in history classes, it'll fun to read this book.

  14. Hmm, hard to pick just one favorite woman from history. I can't help thinking of Joan of Arc and her amazing story but I also really like Eleanor of Aquitaine, especially as portrayed by Katherine Hepburn in the film The Lion in Winter. If anyone hasn't seen it they should check it out.
    +2 - I tweeted a link to this post:

  15. Probably Eleanor of Aquitaine.

  16. Favorite female historic figure: Alice Paul, chairperson of the National Women's Party in the 1920s in the U.S.-- a very important leader in the women's rights movement in America. Arguably more important than Susan B. Anthony. I learned about her when I took sociology college courses a few years ago. Thanks for the giveaway chance--this post was just fascinating to me!

  17. My favourite historical female is Mary MacKillop. Australia's first Saint.
    Thanks for another great giveaway.

  18. I have to say Queen Victoria. A formidable woman by all accounts.


  19. I think Cleopatra, she was such a strong and mysterious woman.

  20. She isn't as well known as some (e.g. Amelia Earhart, Joan of Arc), but Osa Johnson led an absolutely fascinating life and did things that were quite progressive for a woman of her time.

    whatinabox at gmail dot com


  21. hi
    my favorite war the rani laxmi bai who fought britishers with he son tied to hew waist and died fighting,my mother used to tell stories of her

  22. Agatha Christie; her work has inspired all sorts of books, movies, television programs and even me in my own writings. The work she did was, and still is, truly incredible.
    (at) = @
    (dot) = .

  23. I knew of the importance of birth charts even though my family isn't Hindu but I hadn't heard about that practice of marrying a tree or clay pot to break the bad luck and I had no idea that Aishwariya Rai had to do that before her marriage.

    I loved Rebel Queen. I thought it was a fantastic book and really fascinating. I wasn't familiar with the story of the Rani of Jhansi before I read it. I hope you enjoy it too. I am a big fan of Michelle's books too. My favorite is Cleopatra's Daughter but this one is a close second.

  24. Anne Boleyn - after getting the chance to visit the tower of London a few years ago I cannot read enough about her, so very fascinating and tragic too.


  25. Definitely Nefertiti. I fell in love with her after reading Michelle's book. I also love Jodha Bai who is an Indian Historical figure.

  26. Elizabeth Woodville :)
    Shared on Twitter:


  27. It was great to hear from the author herself! I didn't know about reading this kind of chart before so I learned something new!

  28. My favorite hisctorical female caracter is Empress Elisabeth of Austria she was also Queen of Hungary.


    My email address is szaboszilvia(at)gmail (dot) com

    Thank you for the opportunity :)


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