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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Guest Post with Author Dora Levy Mossanen and Giveaway

Dora Levy Mossanen was born in Israel and moved to Iran when she was nine. At the onset of the Islamic revolution she and her family were forced to leave Iran and settle in Los Angeles. She has a Bachelors Degree in English Literature from the University of California Los Angeles and a Masters of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.

Dora is the bestselling author of the widely acclaimed novels Harem, Courtesan, and The Last Romanov, translated into numerous languages, and is the recipient of the prestigious San Diego Editors’ Choice Award. She has been featured in various publications. She blogs for the Huffington Post and reviews fiction for the Jewish Journal. Dora’s widely anticipated novel, Scent of Butterflies, will be released January 2014.

Find Dora at:

Oh, my! I love this topic, since there are so many fun facts to share with my readers about Scent of Butterflies, which is a story of courage, love, betrayal and revenge. But above all, the story of obsession. And you know that when people become obsessed, they do strange things. As it’s evident by the title, butterflies play an important role in the story. What’s not evident is that an amazing plant called Amorphophallus Titanum or Corpse Flower ends up playing a major role, as well. And researching butterflies and the Corpse Flower was great fun.

Why butterflies? Soraya, my protagonist, is planning her revenge against Parvaneh, her best friend, who has betrayed her. Now, Parvaneh means butterfly in Farsi and for Soraya the line between butterflies and Parvaneh, her friend, begins to blur. So, she obsessively embarks on luring butterflies to her garden in Los Angeles, trapping and collecting them, in order to study their ways and habits.

I had to research butterflies extensively. And in the process, I came across wonderfully fun facts. For example, do you know that that Glass Wing butterflies lay eggs on the nightshade after which caterpillars feed on the plant and store the poisonous alkaloids in their tissues? These poisons are then converted to pheromones in male butterflies, engulfing them in a fragrant net into which the female butterfly gladly and willingly tumbles. Or do you know that a species of male butterfly collects nectar with which it blends a perfume it hides in the pockets of its legs to attract females? And this one is the best! Do you know that during mating, a breed of male clearwings passes bitter alkaloids to the poor, clueless female to render her repugnant to other males. Nature at its most ingenious! Imagine if we had that ability. Life as we know it would certainly be different.

And then, there were the fun facts I learned about the rare Corpse Flower, which has an aversion to blooming, even in its native equatorial rain forests of Sumatra. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when I learned in 1999 that a Corpse Flower had bloomed for the first time in California, in the Huntington Botanical Gardens.

I rushed to the Huntington Gardens, hoping to catch the giant plant while in bloom, which is short lived, only 24 to 48 hours. What a day it was at the Gardens, waiting for hours in long lines in the summer heat, praying that I wasn’t too late to witness the plant in its full glory. Well! I was not. I was rewarded by the majestic sight of the Corpse Flower at its most seductive state, with its foul smell of rotten eggs and meat. The heart of the flower, which generated heat and gave off a strong stench that travelled a long distance, was the color of raw meat and receptive to all types of ravenous insects—dung and carrion beetles, sweat bees, flesh flies—that munched on its petals to aid in its pollination. What fun to stand there mesmerized for hours, the plant growing in front of my eyes—it’s true the Corpse Flower is known to visibly grow while it’s in bloom. I wouldn’t exchange this experience for anything.

Promise you won’t think I’ve lost it if I tell you what was the most fun. First some background. I started writing the book, when I was going though a bitter separation. Well, that’s another story. Suffice it to say that the reason had to do with infidelity. I longed for revenge. Yes! I so wanted to do things I was way too sensible to do. So what does a writer do, but create a wonderfully brave, outrageous, glorious character, Soraya, who extracts revenge in ways I couldn’t even dare imagine in my fantasies. Oh! What fun I had bringing Soraya to life.

Such audacity she has, Soraya, a woman who dares to break free of the diamond-studded leash of her culture. A woman who refuses to accept the devastating betrayal her husband has perpetrated. A woman who refuses to forgive her best friend.

Soraya turns her back on Iran, fleeing to America to plot her intricate revenge. The Shah has fallen, her country is in turmoil, her marriage has crumbled, and she is unraveling. The cruel and intimate blow her husband has dealt her awakens an obsessive strak that explodes in the heated world of Los Angeles.

Yet the secret Soraya discovers proves far more devastating than anything she had imagined, unleashing a whirlwind of unexpected events that will leave the reader breathless.

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository |

Check out what's up for grabs.

Up For Grabs:
  • 1 copy of Scent of Butterflies

To Enter: 
  • Please leave a comment or question for Dora.
  • US Shipping ONLY.
  • Please fill out the Rafflecopter form.

Good Luck! 

Special thanks to Sourcebooks for sponsoring this giveaway.
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  1. oh my goodness, love the title, the blurb sounds deep and wonderful!

  2. Dora. The excerpt sounds intriguing! Im looking forward to reading it! thanks

  3. Thanks for the excerpt and the chance to win!
    Sounds like a great read!!

  4. Wow~the cover and title caught my attention, and the blurb really sucked me in. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Thanks a million for your outpouring of praise and encouragement. I love to stay in touch with my readers so those of you who didn't get in touch with me yet, please do so and share your thoughts on Scent of Butterflies and what you think of my brave and obsessed protagonist, Soraya, who isn't afraid to live on the edge.