What’s your next project? My first book started out as a short story for my nephews, turned into a book – The Secret of the Sacred Scarab – and then into a book series. I am getting the second book – The Search for the Stone of Excalibur – ready for publication so I am swamped with cover, interior graphics, website text and images, and planning the next launch. As well as that, I am finishing off Book Three – The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.
When did your first know you could be a writer? It began when I would write little plays for my four brothers and me to act out for my long-suffering parents. We had a wonderful book of children’s stories called The Treasure Casket (which I still have), so there was no shortage of themes. I had a great and eager cast; we would make the invitations and costumes, prepare a meal for our audience of two (my parents had to buy all the ingredients for the meal and pay for the show as well!) and then act out the play.
Then I began writing amusing poetry about family events and family members. I would also illustrate these poems. I still have every single one of my poems. Gradually I drifted into writing, and then jumped from the theater into editing, and then full-time writing.
What is your greatest strength as a writer? I think it is never getting writer’s block. My mom used to ask me about this and I would always reply, “Oh, I’ll think of something.” I always do. Reviewers most often comment on my descriptions of places and characters in my book/s. I rely on my imagination to get my characters into and out of situations, and to sometimes take the lead. Right now I am thinking about my fourth book in my middle grade adventure series. I have the title, the ideas, and what I want my heroes to achieve – I just need to put it all together.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? I want to inspire young readers who enjoy my book with the idea that “You can do it. You can go to an amazing place and have an incredible adventure. You can be a hero and you don’t need a magic wand.” When the boys’ aunt admonishes them and says there’ll be no adventures, just a nice safe tour, Adam says to himself in Chapter One, “Anything can happen in Egypt.” Well, more than anything did happen! Life is an adventure so live it, is my motto.
The smallest of incidents in a new and unusual place can prove to be an exciting and elevating experience for a child. We have become cushioned and comfortable in a world with techno-amenities. We have forgotten how to really see/smell/touch/taste/hear the experience of life.
Any new and unusual location will spark a child’s imagination. It doesn’t have to be Egypt—it can be a wilderness trail, a national park, a countryside visit, a marine excursion, an encounter with animals, a totally different environment that stimulates the senses. My two nephews were 10 and 12 when we went to Egypt and it was amazing to see them react to the things they had only read about—such as monuments, mummies (yes!), camels, vast expanses of arid desert … When they returned they were certainly different. Their experiences changed them.
How much of the book is realistic? Apart from the character of the Scarab King, everything in the book is based on reality (history/geography/archaeology), but with a ‘magical’ twist. Egypt is such an exotic location and the adventure in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is so different from anything the average child experiences that it is definitely a way to transform their perceptions.
They’ll be reading about two boys their own age standing in front of the Great Pyramid, riding an uncomfortable steed (a camel) across a scorching desert, coming face to face with an angry giant cobra, and experiencing such unusual cultural traditions that it will spark their imaginations. The cities they’ll visit with Justin and Adam (the heroes) will be long-dead cities and temples of incredible magnitude, still impressive even in a ruined state.
The monuments won’t be modern statues—they’ll be gigantic effigies of long-dead pharaohs, queens, and tributes to the many Egyptian gods of days gone by. Now that’s the kind of reality that becomes magical for any young reader.
Genre – Juvenile Fiction
Rating – G