Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Interview with author, Fiona Ingram
Today, I'm pleased to welcome Fiona Ingram who is on her Authors Supporting Authors Virtual Book Tour! Please leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for Fiona's book and other prizes through Authors Supporting Authors. Winners will be contacted by e-mail. For details visit Virtual Tour Giveaways.
Fiona, tell us a little about yourself?
FI: I am a middle grade children’s author who became an author quite by accident. A family trip to Egypt with my mother and my two young nephews sparked an idea for a short story … which became a book … which became a book series in the making. The Secret of the Sacred Scarab changed my life and career, taking me from journalism into the world of non-stop adventure writing.
What age group is your work geared toward?
FI: Generally readers begin at around nine or ten and upward. I think younger readers might need help with words and concepts (there is a lot of historical, geographical, and mythological detail) but older kids, and big older kids called adults seem to love the book. The younger readers will enjoy the surface story whereas the older readers will investigate the hidden mythology behind the Seven Stones of Power scattered across the ancient world thousands of years ago, and what they hold for the two heroes Adam and Justin Sinclair in the future.
Into which genre would you say your work falls and why?
FI: I would term the series “youth adventure” or (“history mystery” as Adam says in Book 2) rather than fantasy, since it is steeped in ancient mystery, myth and legend, archaeology and geographical exploration but there is, of course, a fantasy element surrounding the plot. Literary agent Mary Kole (Andrea Brown Lit Agency) describes this genre as magical realism: a story set firmly in our world, only with a twist—magic, danger or something that turns “reality” on its ear—to make things more interesting.
Tell us a little about your book.
FI: The story is about two young South African boys, Justin and Adam Sinclair (aged just-turned-14 and 12-going-on-13 respectively), who visit Egypt with their Aunt Isabel and their grandmother. They are given an ancient scarab by mistake (or is it?) and are plunged into an incredible adventure, escaping death, giant cobras, desert sands, and evil villains in their quest to discover the secret of the sacred scarab, find the long lost tomb of the legendary Scarab King, and rescue the missing archeologist James Kinnaird. The boys also face emotional and moral choices that define who they are in a totally strange and often hostile environment. There is a wonderful mythology attached to this multi-layered plot, as well as history, geography and action all rolled into one package. The book leads the young heroes into the next in the series, with a quest to find the Scroll of the Ancients, and the remaining Stones of Power. (The series takes the heroes to different countries and explores the culture and mythology of each new terrain.)
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
FI: Adam is the bearer of the sacred scarab and obviously the main hero. I really adore him because he is so real, just like a young boy trying to deal with life and its issues. However, Gran, the boys’ grandmother, just has to win the My Favorite Character vote. She is closely modeled on my mother and her feisty attitude and peppery retorts are really very funny and add a lot of humor. She is actually crucial to the plot.
What other writers would you say have influenced your work and why? What are some of your favorite books in the genre?
FI: It’s hard to say who has influenced me because I am an avid reader and read as widely as possible. Growing up I loved all the children’s classics, from The Water Babies to The Famous Five and somehow along the way I am sure that vestiges of all those authors can be seen. People always say the book reminds them of the Hardy Boys - adventure ahoy! I was more of a Secret Seven kind of gal but I can see the parallels. As an adult, I think writers like Graham Hancock and Andrew Collins, who explore the possibilities of ancient civilizations, have really opened my eyes to the greatness of the ancient past.
What is your writing process like? Do you do a lot of background research? Do you plot every detail or do you prefer the characters to move the story in new directions, or a combination of both? Do you belong to a critique group and do you find this helpful?
FI: The books are in a certain framework of history, mystery, quest and ancient civilization, so I really do a massive amount of research in order to make the facts merge seamlessly with the fiction. The thread running through the books (the quest for the Seven Stones of Power) demands that historical and geographical research must be accurate. I did not choose that, but writing the first book about Egypt has set a high standard. I use mainly existing legends, just woven into a fascinating mythology to create a new reality for the heroes. I have a clear overview of each story: what the storyline will be, where the next Stone of Power is found, what artifact will be used, what country, what culture, main plot points, etc. Then I just begin and let the plot points connect. Sometimes I let the characters do their own thing; they have some really good ideas .…
I don’t belong to a critique group because I still write free lance (for a living), I have just signed a contract for a Regency Romance novel, and all the social marketing takes up a huge amount of time. I do edit other people’s work and do lots of book reviews.
Do you have any advice for young or beginning writers?
FI: Make sure your product is as good as it can be. Get edited and listen to your editor. Scour the e-zines and industry newsletters for tips and advice on how to get into the market and find an agent. I have some good articles on my author site on the nuts and bolts of getting your work out there. Visit www.FionaIngram.com (Media Room) under Articles.
Who is your publisher and where are your books available? Are there e-books and hard copies available?
FI: I am published through iUniverse. My books are available in all formats and from many sites listed on the book website www.secretofthesacredscarab.com. The best is possibly Amazon.
What is your website and/or blog where readers can learn more? Can they friend you on Facebook or other sites?
FI: Again, visit my author site and in the Media Room is a banner with Facebook, Linked-In, Jacketflap and other ways to connect with me. My blog button is on my home page. I would love to communicate with other authors.
Are there any upcoming signings or appearances you'd like to mention?
FI: Alas, I live in South Africa so my appearances are limited to online. It has meant a lot of hard work to get my book out there, but I have learned so much along the way.
Fiona, thanks for joining me today! I wish you the best of luck on your tour and with your book!