Hall of Purple Light
In the beginning of the novel, Ayatollah Shir-Del meets with the General Secretary of China in Beijing. Due to restrictions in place by the Communist government, pictures inside the building are prohibited so I had to use my imagination a little bit when the two characters sit down to discuss their oil deal, but the building is used today for state receptions. It seemed like the most logical meeting place between the two world leaders as there have been many photo ops taken there between Chinese leadership and western leaders throughout the years.
Even though I am terrible at it, anyone who knows me can tell you that I love the game of golf. I especially love The Masters golf tournament in the spring, and long to go watch the tournament on the hallowed grounds of Augusta National even though the golfing gods have not yet deemed me worthy of tickets. Anyway, anyone with knowledge of the Augusta National Golf Club knows that former president Eisenhower was on the club’s board of directors. He was such a golf fan that he had a driving range installed at Camp David as well as a par-3 golf course with three different tees, but one green. This was a fun way for me to include my addictive hobby with a meeting between U.S. President Roger Cannon and Israeli Prime Minister Eli Shahar.
Evin Prison is the most notorious prison in Iran, if not the world. When I was writing Surviving the Lion’s Den, I really wanted to find a way to write about the prison, but couldn’t find a good way to do it because I wanted to create a fictional dark-site location which I later named the Lounge. Instead, I put Farhad’s apartment just outside the prison to the point where he could see the brick walls lining the exercise yard. It was a bit of foreshadowing on my part that he would eventually end up there.
For obvious reasons, pictures outside the prison are prohibited and very few pictures inside the prison are known to exist. However, I found a number of books written by former occupants of the facility, many of whom have since moved to the United States and written books about their experiences on which I based a fair amount of my research. Captive In Iran and Prisoner of Tehran are two of the best books that I read, and I would highly recommend them.
Cloud Seeding at Azadi Square
As odd as it sounds, Facebook has been a good source for ideas for me. I was scrolling through my feed one day, and I came across one of the pages that I had Liked that highlighted crazy but true facts about history and locations of the world. One particular article described how the United Arab Emirates used drones filled with electronic sensors to calculate the precise electric charge needed to generate a thunderstorm filled with rain in order to alleviate drought conditions. As soon as I started doing my research, my creativity kicked in about using the cloud seeding to generate a tremendous storm that would make it appear that God himself was responding to the Ayatollah’s words. But what if the cloud seeding was used as a ruse for regime change? The idea of having the Iranian crowd gather at Azadi Square was something that I wanted to do simply because I think Azadi Tower and its surrounding Square are truly breathtaking, and I envision a day where it will come to symbolize a new day of hope in Iran.
This is where I got to have a lot of fun as an author. I needed a location for the Ayatollah to make his last stand. What better place than an ancient fortress with natural protection on two sides? It was built over 1800 years ago and served as the headquarters for many Persian armies over the centuries, but changed into a prison during the reign of the last Shah, and today serves as a museum. I was struck by the sheer size of it, 57,000 square feet, with 70ft. walls. The way it stands on the hill above the city of Khorramabad gives it a very looming presence and makes it an imposing landscape feature.