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Interview: Fiona Ingram, Author of The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

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Although Fiona Ingram has been a journalist for the last 15 years, 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 her two nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into an award-winning children’s book, the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone. Ms. Ingram has already completed the next book in the series — The Search for the Stone of Excalibur — which will be a huge treat for young King Arthur fans.

Although Fiona Ingram does not have children of her own, she has an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is just discovering the joys of reading for pleasure. Ms. Ingram’s experiences in teaching her daughter to read has resulted in her interest in child literacy and in creating ways to get kids more interested in reading, as well as helping parents to instil a love of reading in their children.

Fiona Ingrams is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films. She also loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). Ms. Ingram has travelled widely and fulfilled many of her travel goals.

Fiona’s latest book is the middle grade adventure novel, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab  – Book One in the Chronicles of the Stone series.

Readers can learn more about Fiona Ingram by visiting the following:

Website | Blog Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Goodreads | Authors DenYouTube | Amazon |Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Nook

Please tell us a bit about your book and what you hope readers take away from reading it.

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is a thrilling adventure for two young boys, whose fun trip to Egypt turns into a dangerously exciting quest to uncover an ancient secret. 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. In the book, the heroes come face to face with a wonderful adventure and an exciting secret, but dig a little deeper and you find they encounter a culture and mythology that is unlike anything they have ever known. They are introduced to a new respect for the preservation of a country’s ancient heritage.

They are personally challenged on many levels as well. Several readers have described Egypt as being ‘like a character’ in the book. Although I never set out to achieve this intentionally, the magnitude of the Egyptian civilization was important to me in the portrayal thereof. It was impossible to skim over the facts when the characters are so deeply enmeshed in a culture vastly removed from anything in the Western world. I’d like young readers to learn as they share the journey (and subsequent journeys) with the heroes that there’s more to life than the easy things we take for granted. Life isn’t always about the next gadget, what your parents can buy you, designer labels, the latest video game, etc. Life is about choices, meanings, friendships, loyalties, moral dilemmas, and the right and wrong path to take.

Who are your favorite characters in the story?

Although my hero Adam is definitely my favorite character, surprisingly enough some of the secondary characters get my personal vote for the fun, quirky, weird, crabby or just downright obnoxious people they are. The boys’ Gran gets stranded at the Valley of the Kings when the tour bus is hijacked and she makes it back to Cairo with the help of two Turkish carpet salesmen who are so serious about everything and subsequently very funny. There is a hilarious scene at the British Embassy in Cairo where they break windows to get arrested so they can speak to the British Ambassador.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?

I mentioned that Gran is a wonderful quirky character. Her take on life is very down-to-earth as demonstrated here when they read in the newspaper that a famous archaeologist has gone missing under mysterious circumstances:

“There’s definitely something fishy going on,” Gran decided. “I think there’s more to this than meets the eye. Mr. Kinnaird sounds like an experienced archaeologist to me. Foul play, that’s what I say.”

“Oh, Mother.” Isabel heaved a sigh. “You’ve been reading too many detective novels again.”

“Truth, as everyone knows,” Gran huffed, “is stranger than fiction. How do you think writers dream up their plots? They just write about what people really do.”

If your current release were to be turned into a movie, who would you love to see play what characters and why?

I am ecstatic to announce that I have signed a movie option with a British film company and The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is going to be turned into a movie. I already have an impossible wish list of actors. However, my biggest fear is that they won’t be as enthusiastic about playing the roles I have earmarked for them. But here goes for the main characters:

Dr. Faisal Khalid (evil baddy) – Mark Strong (Lord Blackwood in Sherlock Holmes)

James Kinnaird the Scottish archaeologist – Richard Armitage (BBC series North & South)
Isabel Sinclair – Isla Fisher or Amy Adams (well known USA actors)
Gran – a South Africa character actress Judy Page
Ebrahim Faza – Erick Avari (The Mummy) or Omar Sharif
Ismal (a henchman of Dr. Khalid) — Luis Guzman (The Count of Monte Cristo)

There are many more but the above are my favorites.

What are your favorite aspects of writing?

I love the feeling when the story just drives me as a writer and I find my fingers fly across the keyboard. Grammar and spelling go out the window as I try to keep up with the story unfolding in my head. Or else I find whole scenes, complete with dialogue and backstory, playing out in my head long before it is even time to tackle that part.

Your least favorite aspects of writing?

Reading what I have just typed and correcting all the spelling and grammar! Another boring thing is having to actually leave my desk, go out into the real world and shop and pay bills.

Who are some of your favorite authors/books?

I have favorite authors of particular books. If I like a writer I may just enjoy a couple of his or her books. I love J.R R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, but apart from The Hobbit, could not read all the encyclopedic background to Middle Earth. I adore Jane Austen wholeheartedly although Northanger Abbey is my least favorite of her books. I enjoy other writers from the Austen era. I also love Wilkie Collins (The Moonstone), Melvyn Bragg (Credo) and Mervyn Peake (Gormenghast trilogy). Terry Pratchett is another favorite. I read just about anything and I love non-fiction research into ancient history for my own books. My favorite author for historical non-fiction is Graham Hancock.

What are you reading right now?

I am reading a book I have had for years and must have read only once, which is surprising for me. I tend to reread my books, like visiting old friends. The book is Winds of War by Herman Wouk. The sequel is War and Remembrance. It is about two families, American and European, at the outset of World War 2.

If you could have a dinner party and invite five authors — dead or alive — who would they be and what would you serve them?

My wish list would be Wilkie Collins, Jane Austen, Terry Pratchett, Graham Hancock and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Since all my guests are British I would not hesitate to serve them a traditional English roast with potatoes, vegetables and Yorkshire pudding, rounded off with apple pie and cream.

What is a book that you wish you could say that you had written and why?

Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice because it is the perfect story. Reading it is like unfolding a beautifully wrapped gift. I admire her style, character and plot development, and her dry witty observations about human behavior.

What is the greatest piece of advice (for writing and/or just living) that you have heard?

I cherish my mother’s advice which she gave me when I was still in high school. I used to worry that everyone else would do better than me in the exams. I also fretted about this at university. She said: “Don’t look left or right. Look straight ahead and run your own race.” That advice has served me well now that I am published and wondering why everyone else is famous, or so it seems, and why it takes so long to get anywhere as a writer. I have learned not to compare myself with other people, but to run my own race.

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  • http://www.beyondtodayeducator.com Cheryl Carpinello

    Fiona, Great interview. Loved seeing who you envision playing your characters!

  • http://www.FionaIngram.com Fiona Ingram

    I really hope I get just one or two to make the movie wish list come true.