Nälu Fashion: Behind the Scenes with J.L. Mbewe + GIVEAWAY [Guest Post & Blog Tour]

Darkened Hope by J.L. Mbewe book tour and giveaway May 16-20

Today, I'm happy to welcome fantasy author J.L. Mbewe to The Artist Librarian to share a little about her amazing world of Nälu (and an awesome giveaway)!  When I first read Jennette's debut novel, Secrets Kept (reviewed here), I was struck by vivid clothing descriptions and diverse-inspired fantasy cultures.  If you follow me on other social media like Facebook or Instagram, you probably know I love sewing and costuming --so I was very excited that Jennette agreed to guest blog on Nälu fashion!  So, with no more delay, here's Jennette:

Medieval-inspired. (image source)

Thank you, Jen!

I love learning about other cultures. Food. Customs. Languages. Locations. And clothes! When we embark with Ayianna on her journey, we see the usual European medieval clothing. Hey, we have to start somewhere, and we are jumping into an epic fantasy quest. The adventure is just beginning!

Image courtesy of J.L. Mbewe
The Esusamor Elves of Zurial
The embroidery around the edges of their garments are inspired by my husband’s shirts from Zambia.

[Wow, I don't know what this type of embroidery is called, but it's so intricate and beautiful!]

The Saryhemor Elves of N’dari

These are the desert elves, so their clothes reflect that with a Middle Eastern flare.

Will we see female dwarves? (image source)
Within the realms of the dwarves, you will find Germanic influences such as clothing inspired by the dirndl and lederhosen.The Igazin of Kvazkhun wear bright and bold colors, but the clothing of the Stozic dwarves of Ta’vazi are more subdued. Common fabrics among these two clans are wool and leather. Mohair is the specialty of the Klovan dwarves of Stratuvec.

[I immediately thought of the Hobbits in Lord of the Rings --they have dirndl-like inspired dresses and things.]
The Haruzo of Bonzapur

Salwar kameez (image source)

Since these feline-shapeshifters live on the edges of the Zriab Desert, their clothing reflect an Egyptian and Indian influence. Thin linens, silk, or chiffon-like fabrics are popular, depending on their position in society. Sheath-style dresses are common as well as salwar kameez-inspired outfits.

[So I'm totally obsessed with salwar kameezes now after one image search ... here's a slightly contemporary version.]

The Haruzo of Arashel

These feline-shapeshifters live in the northern reaches of the Kha Vaaro Mountains. Their clothing resembles a Celtic and Scottish-feel.

(Image source)
The Kaleki of Ganya
Then there is the merfolk. Clothing did not become important to them until trade grew between the nations. They developed a special silver fabric that repels water and won’t interfere if they choose to wear it while they swim. Mermen wear wrap-like kilts, the merwomen wear short robes inspired by traditional Asian clothing.

[Traditional Japanese happi coats are what I imagine as the basis for the Kaleki merwomen's attire. Thanks so much for this behind the scenes peek, Jennette!]

Which of these fantasy cultures would you want to learn more about?  Which style of clothing would you buy?  Do you have a favorite fantasy fashion or outfit?  What series is it from?  Let me know in the comments!

About Darkened Hope (The Hidden Dagger #2):

The Secret Keeper is on the run, but does she know the secret she keeps?

Ayianna is a cursed half-elf betrothed to Desmond, but her heart belongs to another. After discovering the cure for the Sorceress's curse, she and her companions embark on a dangerous quest to retrieve the ingredients.

When dragons descend upon their party, Ayianna realizes the Sorceress is searching not just for the corrupted dagger, but a human sacrifice that will open a portal to the underworld. Battling deadly creatures and natural disasters, Ayianna is forced more and more to confront her insecurities and conflicted heart.

Now she must decide whether to be true to her family or true to herself. As the nations rally for war, betrayal threatens to destroy them all, and it's a race against time to return before the curse devastates the plains people.

Available on Kindle and in Paperback
About the Author:
Writing as J. L. Mbewe, Jennette is an author, artist, mother, wife, but not always in that order. Born and raised in Minnesota, she now braves the heat of Texas, but pines for the Northern Lights and the lakes of home every autumn. She loves trying to capture the abstract and make it concrete. She is currently living her second childhood with a wonderful husband and two precious children who don’t seem to mind her eclectic collections of rocks, shells, and swords, among other things. Here, between reality and dreams, you will find her busily creating worlds inhabited by all sorts of fantasy creatures and characters, all questing about and discovering true love amid lots of peril. She has two short stories published in The Clockwork Dragon anthology, and four short stories set in the world of Nälu. Her debut novel, Secrets Kept, was nominated for the 2014 Clive Staples Award, and its sequel, Darkened Hope was just released in May 2016.

Stay up-to-date with all things Nälu and her journey as a writer mama at JLMbewe.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Pinterest
Enter to win a copy of Darkened Hope and more below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

EDIT:  I totally forgot to add the info on rest of the blog tour!

Click the image below to learn more about the Darkened Hope Facebook Release Party this Saturday!  Chat about the books, answer questions, take a quiz, eat some virtual food, and have fun!  Plus you can win a copy of Darkened Hope, other fantasy novels, giftcards, bookish-swag, and more! Invite your friends and come join us!  No knowledge of the series is required, though book 1, Secrets Kept, is on sale for $0.99 this month!



  1. Thank you so much for participating in the blog tour!

    1. I think it's going to be so much fun! Looking forward to seeing the rest of the tour stops (which I totally blanked on but am going to add to my post). =)

  2. Wow! I too am a lover of cultures, so I found this post very intriguing. I loved reading about the different cultures in her world, and enjoy the amount of detail she's put into each one to set them apart and make them feel unique, yet real. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Stephanie! I agree --a lot of fantasy I've read in the past use medieval European cultures (which I do love) heavily in their worldbuilding, so I enjoyed that Jennette's utilizing inspiration from other cultures (and having a bi-racial protagonist is pretty cool too). =)

      Be sure to stop by the rest of the tour this week!

  3. Darkened Hope looks awesome! Can hardly wait to read it! :D

    1. Thank you! Hope you enjoy it when you do! :-)

  4. Other cultures are so fascinating! Thank you for sharing. I'm looking forward to reading Darkened Hope.

    1. I agree! Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy it!

  5. Oh, about your dwarf question.... In Indestructible we get a glimpse of a female dwarf or two, AND I am currently working on a novella featuring the dwarves of Ta'vazi. But we'll see, this novella is proving to be a challenge to write! :-)


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts! Comments are always welcomed and appreciated.

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