The Story Behind The Mountain Goddess by Shelley Schanfield


I love to explore the romance of other times, places, and cultures, and historical fiction is a great way to do it. In college I studied Asian history and developed a passionate interest in India’s religions, rich traditions full of amazing myths and stories. Prince Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism, is a fascinating historical figure shrouded in legend. Born into wealth and privilege some 2500 years ago, he had everything—looks, talent, a beautiful wife, a royal future—but nothing satisfied him. The night his first son was born, he slipped away disguised as a humble seeker of truth, determined to find enlightenment. What he found the-mountain-goddesshas eased the suffering of millions.

His teachings have helped me through difficult times, and his story just seemed to beg for a good novel. As a lover of historical fiction I searched for one. None that I found satisfied me. As Toni Morrison says: “If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” So I decided to write my own.

I’m a librarian by profession, so I plunged into research about Siddhartha’s time and place. It didn’t take long for goddesses, demons, talking tigresses, and fierce and compassionate women from Buddhist legends to demand a role in this epic tale. I realized one novel was simply not enough, and so the Sadhana Trilogy was born.

Book I, The Tigress and the Yogi, was published in January 2016, and it has garnered excellent reviews and averages 4/5 stars on Goodreads and Amazon. It follows the low caste woman Mala as she journeys from slavery to vengeance to a quest for spiritual freedom through yoga.

Book II, The Mountain Goddess, focuses on Dhara, the rebellious daughter of a warrior from a poor clan. Determined not to marry, she runs away to a Himalayan cave to study yoga’s supernatural powers with Mala, who despite striving for inner peace is haunted by demons from her violent past. War drives master and pupil from their sacred cave and Dhara meets and captures the heart of Prince Siddhartha. In a time of religious and political strife, they face terrible choices.

Book III, my current work in progress, weaves together many characters and themes from the first two books and I anticipate its release in 2018.

I had an agent for a time, but after a year we parted ways amicably, and by that time self-publishing had become a huge phenomenon. In the age of print-on-demand and e-books, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by going it on my own.

Now I’m president, CFO, senior editor, and best-selling author at my own publishing company, Lake House Books! Which means I did it all: writing, finding superb editors (Jane Ratcliffe for developmental editing and Meghan Pinson for copyediting/proofing) filing for an LCCN, copyright, getting Cataloging in Publication (PCIP) information, bought my own ISBNs.

I found a great book designer at Streetlight Graphics, who did the beautiful formatting and covers for both e-books and print. A local book manufacturer, Thomson Shore, gave me a gorgeous print-on-demand paperback for both Book I and Book II of my trilogy. For e-book distribution on Book I, I used Draft-2-Digital for most distributors and uploaded directly to Amazon’s Kindle. For my second, I’m exploring a new e-book service, Pronoun, which will upload to all retailers, including Kindle.

About the Author

shelley-schanfieldShelley 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.

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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.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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