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Interview with Middle Grade Fiction Author Fiona Ingram, author of ‘The Secret of the Sacred Scarab’
I can’t remember NOT having a book in my hand. My schoolmates called me a bookworm, and nothing’s changed since then. I was brought up on the children’s classics because my parents are also avid readers. My earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, I entertained my three younger brothers and their friends with serialized tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. Haunted houses, vampires, and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favorites in the cast of characters. We also acted out the stories for my long-suffering parents! I graduated from the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, with a double first in my B.A. (French & Drama). After completing my Honors in Drama at Natal, I then went to the University of the Witwatersrand to do my Masters degree in French-African literature (graduated cum laude). I also studied drama at The Drama Studio in London and mime at L’Ecole Jacques le Coq in Paris. Upon my return to South Africa, I immersed myself in teaching drama at community centres, and became involved in producing community and grassroots theatre with local playwrights and performers in Natal for several years. A move to Johannesburg took me in a new direction—that of journalism. I have written freelance for the last fifteen years on everything from serial killers to relationship advice. Writing a children’s book—The Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for my 2 nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied me on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into a children’s book, the first in the adventure series, Chronicles of the Stone. I have already completed the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans. Although I do not have children of my own, I have an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is discovering the joys of reading for pleasure. My interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films.
Fiona’s latest book is the middle grade adventure novel, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab – Book 1 in the Chronicles of the Stone series.
Purchase ebook for $2.99 here!
About The Secret of the Sacred Scarab
A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the cousins and their scarab, do the boys realise they are in terrible danger. Dr. Khalid wants the relic at all costs. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr. Khalid kidnaps them. They survive terrifying dangers in a hostile environment (such as a giant cobra, as well as sinking sand), pursued by enemies in their quest to solve the secret of the sacred scarab. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out. They must also learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another!
Young explorers will enjoy an interactive journey through Egypt, following Justin and Adam’s exciting adventure on www.secretofthesacredscarab.com. Readers can also browse the first chapter of the book. Those who survive the journey and manage to translate the Curse of Thoth will be able to read the first chapter in Adam and Justin’s next adventure—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—as they hunt for the Scroll of the Ancients.
The Secret of the Sacred Scarab has received the following awards:
- Book Award Nominations & Wins:
- Finalist Children’s Fiction USA Next Generation 2009 Indie Book Awards
- Finalist Juvenile Fiction USA National Best Books 2009 Awards
- Winner Pre-Teen USA 2009 Readers’ Favorites Awards
- Number 2 in the USA Children’s & Teens Book Connection Top Ten Favourite Books of 2009 for Kids, Tweens & Teens
- Winner Silver Medal Teen Fiction 2010 Nautilus Book Awards
- Finalist Children’s Fiction 2010 International Book Awards
- Winner Bronze Medal Pre-Teen Fiction 2010 Moonbeam Book Awards
- Finalist 2011 Rubery Book Awards
- Winner Gold Award Mystery Pre-Teen 2011 Children’s Literary Classics Awards
Thank you for this interview, Fiona. What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or less words, what would you say?
My latest published book is The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, aimed at ages 9-13. A thrilling adventure for two boys, whose holiday to Egypt turns into a dangerously exciting quest to uncover an ancient mysterious secret.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
I do have plans for a new book. The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is the first in a middle grade adventure series entitled Chronicles of the Stone. I have completed Book Two, called The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, and I am about to begin Book Three, called The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.
What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing?
I began my writing career at age ten, making up adventures to entertain my three younger brothers and their friends. My four brothers and I would then write plays and act them out for my long-suffering parents. I graduated from university in theatre studies and actually went into theater and teaching drama. However, to the relief of my anxious parents, I finally gave up performing and got a ‘real’ job in journalism. I only wrote my first book after a trip to Egypt with my mom and my two young nephews. The Secret of the Sacred Scarab began as a short story to entertain them and then grew into a book and finally a book series. In the interim I have written two historical romances and collaborated on an historical Viking novel.
How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book?
I had an idea that I discussed with the artist. The image of the scarab is based on a famous Egyptian artifact. The hardcover was designed and painted by Steven Felmore, a South African artist. The e-book cover was designed and painted by Lori Bentley, also a South African artist. Lori drew the interior illustrations and maps, as well as the visuals for the website. Lori is busy with the second book cover.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
The scarab beetle is sacred in ancient Egyptian mythology and culture so it seemed appropriate. Egypt is a land of mystery and secrets, a place where curious kids would have the most fantastic time.
Is there anything you would change about your book? And why?
No, I love it just as it is.
Do you have a book trailer? And what are your thoughts on book trailers?
Yes, I do have a book trailer and I am very proud that I managed to create it by myself! I love book trailers. It’s a chance for the author to add a creative touch to their book/s.
Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hardcovers or audiobooks?
I am traditional and love either paperback or hardcovers.
Are you a self-published / Indie author?
Yes, I am self-published. After being rejected by 35 British agents (who will naturally all regret turning me down when I am rich and famous!) I was so naïve I thought the only option left was self-publishing. However, I think I have learned about publishing from the bottom rung up!
Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it?
My books are like old friends and I often reread them.
What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format?
I am reading two books right now. The Winds of War by Herman Wouk and Sourcery by Terry Pratchett. Both paperback.
Do you have any advice for other writers? And what’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing?
Don’t look back and don’t give up is the best advice I have been given. My publicist once said to me (when I was moaning about getting people to read my book), “All you need is one person to read your book. The right person.” He was correct. That one person can be the agent or the publisher or the movie maker who loves what you have to offer.
Patience, persistence, and self-belief are what you must cultivate. Cement the vision of success in your mind. Do not even contemplate the faintest idea of failure.
Make sure your book meets the industry’s standards. No one will bother with a poorly written, badly edited manuscript. Read other people’s work and subscribe to newsletters offering writing tips.
Above all, write your own story. You can pick up tips and advice from other people but your story is unique to you so keep it that way.
Where can your readers follow you?
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/fiona.robyn.ingram
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/fiona_ingram
(hardcover & paperback)