I decided to write a short story about Mumtaz Mahal. She is the woman buried in the Taj Mahal. Her real name is Arjumand Banu and she was bestowed with the name Mumtaz Mahal later in life. The Mumtaz Chronicles series starts in 1593, the year Arjumand Banu was born.
Reading about her aunt, Mehr al-Nesa, and the other women of the Mughal Empire, I was inspired. The story became longer and longer, and eventually it evolved into The Mumtaz Chronicles.
I was born Mumtaz Jameel. If you read the preface in Book 1, The Royal Harem, it explains why my parents decided to name me Mumtaz and why I started writing The Mumtaz Chronicles. The ‘Zatta’ character was a fictionalized version of me.
It was hard growing up with such an unusual name in middle America in the late 1970’s. I’m not South Asian. I didn’t know anyone who was from India. I decided to use the name ‘Jameel’ as a teenager because it was easier for people to pronounce. Since ‘Jameel’ is typically a boys name, later I added the ‘Anne’ to make my gender clear.