Where do you get support from? Do you have friends in the industry?
Support from family and friends, mostly. I don’t really know anyone in the industry.
How much sleep do you need to be your best?
About seven hours! When I was younger it used to be six, but in those days I slept straight through without waking!
Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support?
Yes, but as mentioned before they are of a private disposition and would not thank me for going too public.
Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?
Writing the kind of stories and about the kind of people I find fascinating. Putting fictional flesh around the bare bones which we know from history and archaeology.
It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?
I see myself a too much of a novice to say anything sensible about this.
Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?
OK, Scenes from a Life is the title. It is set about twenty years after In a Milk and Honeyed Land and aims, in part, to tidy up some loose ends left over from that. Some of the characters from the earlier one cross over into the later one, but of course there is a whole new generation that has grown to early adulthood. Also, the way in which the stories intersect is not obvious at first. The story opens with Makty-Rasut, a talented Egyptian scribe in the area of Waset (nowadays called Luxor) who is currently working on the tomb of a priest at the temple. As the story unfolds we follow Makty on both geographic and personal journeys, by way of “flashback” scenes showing key events in his past.
I wrote it partly because that scribal culture fascinates me – there was a whole class of skilled people, roughly like what we would call a middle class today, who worked on tombs all of their working lives, but never those of pharaohs or other national figures. Their work is almost always anonymous, but some of the scenes which tourists find most accessible and engaging were drafted by them. So… I wanted to explore that world, and find some common ground with today’s IT professionals. Alongside that, I wanted to push those few years ahead and think about what my original set of characters might have grown into.
In a Milk and Honeyed Land is a novel about everyday life about 3,000 years ago in the hill country of Canaan – now called Israel and Palestine – close to the end of the time of Egyptian rule of that province. It explores how the vast changes in lifestyle, politics, religion and music that occurred in that area between what archaeologists call the Bronze Age and Iron Age might have been mirrored by individual people’s words and actions. The large-scale actions and military campaigns of the Egyptian pharaoh and other great kings are nowhere in sight; this is a story of the resources and people available within four small allied communities.
It is set close to the end of a long period of comparative stability in the hill country of Canaan. The Egyptians – the Mitsriy of the story – have governed the region with a fairly light hand, on the whole. Population has declined, and towns and villages have dwindled in size as the occupants have moved out into the more prosperous lowlands. Within a hundred years or so, the political landscape will be quite different again, with the Mitsriy gone and small kingdoms arising to compete over the territory. For the time being, communities continue in their traditional ways, with local priests and chieftains chosen from among the people by merit rather than dynastic ambition. The book follows the life of a village priest in one of the towns as he struggles with timeless issues of life and love, loyalty and betrayal, greed and generous giving.
The First Part of the Story
Damariel is apprenticed as a young man by the village priest, whose reckless actions lead to his disgrace. Damariel manages to avoid becoming implicated in the matter and carries on his training, marrying his childhood friend Qetirah shortly before they begin their shared ministry in the town. Feeling ashamed of their continuing inability to have children, Qetirah becomes pregnant by the chief of the four towns, but the pregnancy is difficult. Damariel’s anger and outrage spills over into the marriage. He holds the chief responsible for the situation but cannot see how to get either justice or revenge…
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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG13
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