Interview with Author Laury Silvers


Welcome Readers to another installment of our author interview series. Today we have the pleasure of chatting with Laury Silvers, author of multiple historical fiction books with a Medieval Islamic setting.  

JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Laury. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

LS- A perfect day includes a very long walk in one of Torontos beautiful ravines. It is called a city in a park for a reason. My mind gets to wander, finding a peaceful place, and I get much-needed exercise. Time to write or think about writing, as well as small tasks associated with writing, are essential to this perfect day. Then come the other essentials: good coffee, good food, good company, and a good book. If my grandson lived nearby, and I could add seeing him daily to this mix, that would be the cherry on top.

JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

LS- The early medieval period in Islamic civilizations is my favourite. It's the time before institutions of learning and other forms of social and political authority were gaining traction. I particularly love the early period and just after it when religious ideas, rituals, and legal practices were still taking shape. The diversity of thought and practice, including gender roles, was still evolving. I adore researching the time before an accepted truth was considered true at all – just one position among many, sometimes under wild dispute for the most interesting, and sometimes banal reasons

JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

LS- "This is a challenging question for me to answer. When it comes up in conversation, I typically bow out. As a believing Muslim, I would, of course, say the Prophet Muhammad. The chance to sit with him, to learn directly from him, and simply to be in his presence would be the culmination of so many hopes to understand my religion and my place in it.

However, if I were to choose a secular figure, it would be the 9th-century 'renaissance man,' al-Jahiz. He was a great man of letters of African and Arab descent, a famed raconteur, scientist, essayist, and humorist who wrote numerous books. Some engaged with earlier Greek sources, such as his 'Book of Animals,' while others were hilarious compendiums of the shortcomings of his contemporaries, like 'The Book of Misers.' He seems like he would be a heck of a lot of fun.

JMR- How did you come to be a writer of historical fiction?

LS- I retired from academia, where I was a historian of early medieval Islam. Despite leaving the formal world of academia, I found that I still had stories to tell about the period and its people. Encouraged by my family and friends to pick up the pen, here I am.

JMR-Historical fiction and murder mystery seem to be a popular pairing. Why did you choose this subgenre as opposed to a purely historical novel?

LS- I have always loved mysteries and would read and discuss them with my mother. It was she who urged me to bring my two loves together. Mysteries, I've found, are the perfect form to explore the big questions about history and humanity without getting bogged down. The search for 'whodunit' keeps the story moving and the historical baggage light.

JMR- Did you visit anyone of the places in your book? Where did you feel closest to your characters?

LS- I have never had the opportunity to visit Baghdad, unfortunately. I still hope to go someday. However, I did live in Fez, Morocco. Its old city is not dissimilar to accounts of medieval cities further east. I always imagined the people I studied as living, breathing individuals with all the possible weaknesses and strengths. Some of them did live in Fez, and their tombs were there or nearby. Their traditions lived on, allowing me to imagine them in a way I could never have done had I not had that opportunity. When I began to bring them to life in fiction, it all came together.

JMR- Laury, tell us about your new book, The Peace: A Sufi Mystery.

LS- The Peace is the final book in my Sufi Mysteries Quartet. Each novel is a mystery unto itself, but collectively, they unpack particular historical questions about the period. The first, The Lover, explores the fate of early pious and Sufi women. The second, The Jealous, delves into gender roles, ideals, freedom, and enslavement, especially within legal systems. The third, The Unseen, focuses on early Shia communities and their relationship with the Sunni caliphate. Despite the distinct mysteries, all the books narrate the story of twins, Zaytuna and Tein, as they navigate the spiritual and emotional legacy of their famed mystic mother—from trauma and pain to eventual peace. The Peace, as the final installment, delves into the history of the Quran and Quranic scholarship, exploring debates around manuscripts as they finally come to order. The narrative also brings a spiritual and emotional resolution to the characters' journeys.

JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

LS- I have a novella out in a collection entitled Revenge in Three set in a alternative history medieval world. All three of the novellas are based on The Count of Monte Cristo. Mine, Rat City, is a noir story with a post-menopausal hard-boiled detective. Rat City is a semi-finalist for a speculative fiction award. I’m waiting on the announcements for finalists.

Next, I am taking one of the characters from The Sufi Mysteries Quartet, Ammar, the former frontier fighter and investigator for Baghdads Grave Crimes Section, and giving him his own series: A Ghazi Ammar Medieval Mystery. In this new venture, Ammar is now a private investigator. While major characters from the first series do play a role, they take a backseat to Ammar's narrative. This new series is intentionally lighter in every way. It will be less historical, with history moving into the background to make room for more straightforward mysteries. The focus will be less on the religious lives of its characters, but it will still vividly bring medieval Baghdad to life.

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

LS- I am rarely on the former Twitter anymore, but my account there is @waraqamusa. On all other platforms I am laurylsilvers. But the best place to find me is my websites

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

LS- I love the question about the audience. While I initially hoped that my first series would be read more broadly, I quickly realized its appeal was primarily to history nerds—specifically, those interested in exploring beyond Western Civilization basics. So, that narrowed down my audience significantly. With this next series, I'm aiming for a broader appeal, going for a 'Cadfael in Baghdad' feel. I hope there are readers out there looking for just that.

JMR- Thank you, Laury, for stopping by. Your books look really intriguing! Readers, I’ve included a link to Laury’s books below. Please be sure to check them out.


I will add a button and link to the book.


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