– The Magic of Wor(l)ds is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free.
I’m grateful of receiving a free copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review of this book. –
Today I’m delighted to be on the ‘Pilot Who Knows the Waters’ blogtour, organised by The Coffee Pot Book Club.
To promote this book I’ll be sharing an interview between the author and me, but first I have some information
About the Author :
N.L. Holmes is the pen name of a professional archaeologist who received her doctorate from Bryn Mawr College. She has excavated in Greece and in Israel, and taught ancient history and humanities at the university level for many years. She has always had a passion for books, and in childhood, she and her cousin (also a writer today) used to write stories for fun. Today, she and her husband live in France with their chickens and cats, where she weaves, plays the violin, gardens, and dances.
Amazon Author Page
About the Book :
Hani must secretly obtain a Hittite bridegroom for Queen Meryet-amen, but Ay and the faction behind Prince Tut-ankh-aten are opposed–to the point of violence. Does the death of an artisan have anything to do with Ay’s determination to see his grandson on the throne? Then, another death brings Egypt to the brink of war… Hani’s diplomatic skills will be pushed to the limit in this final book in The Lord Hani Mysteries.
And now it’s finally time for the
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’m an archaeologist and professor of ancient history, who couldn’t wait to retire from teaching so I’d have time to turn the cool stories I found in the past into fiction. I grew up in a book-loving family and it wasn’t odd to consider novelizing as a career, although I had gone down many other paths in the course of my life: artist, antiques dealer, interior decorator, administrative assistant of an educational foundation, and cloistered nun. Believe it or not, all of these were useful in some way when it came time to creating historical fiction. I now live in France with my husband, two cats, and two hens, and we have a grown son.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
As a reader one could describe as voracious, I read/have read every kind of book, but as a kid I loved historical adventures like Treasure Island and The Three Musketeers and Swiss Family Robinson and Ivanhoe. I read anything that took place at sea (even though I grew up 600 miles from the nearest coast), and also loved science fiction. One of my favorite things was Rostand’s play Cyrano de Bergerac, which I read eight times! As an adult, I still devour 19th-century novels of the Realist-Naturalist stamp, English or French, and also modern literary fiction like Strout, Robinson, or quirky Neal Stephenson. I’ve gotten on fantasy jags, too, and maybe the best book I’ve read in years is Pirotte’s Les Reines—lyrical and thought-provoking. I also like mysteries now, when they’re as well done as Tana French or Louise Penny.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I think, strangely, that that might be Ursula LeGuin or Emmanuelle Pirotte, both writers of fantasy. They have managed to mix genre fiction with such beautiful, poetic writing and deep thought-provoking reflection that it takes away from genre fiction the stigma of lightness. Why can’t it be literary too? I still ponder Left Hand of Darkness years after I read it.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
I’d like to meet my own Lord Hani over a teapot, although I don’t know what he’d make of tea. He’d like the cakes, at least! He’s just a nice guy and thoughtful. I’d like to hear his take on what was happening in his country during his lifetime and get his reflections on our own times, which share a lot of factors. I think it would be refreshing to meet a government functionary who followed his conscience even at a cost to his advancement. And he has first hand recollections of figures like Akhenaten, Amenhotep III, and Tutankhamen. There are so many questions he could answer for historians and archeologists.
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
Not really. At the moment, I write in an armchair in front of the fire, usually with a cat in my lap. I like to play classical music in the background.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
No danger for my friends! Most of my characters are real historical people, so I begin with what w know about their lives and actions, then I try to imagine what sort of people they must have been. Certainly bits of physical or psychological traits I’ve met show up, but all mixed together—there are no whole personages I know anywhere, and that includes me. Bits and pieces only. Even my cats get in the mix.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
Definitely a pantser! I tried advance plotting on the first novel and thought I’d die. I came away convinced I had no imagination, because I couldn’t sit in front of a blank page and work out a whole novel in my head. Corny as it sounds, I let the characters take me where they want to go: their choices determine what happens next, just as they do in real life. I see clues, connections, and opportunities as events unroll and don’t know the denouement until the reader does! Then I go back and nudge things or plant red herrings afterwards.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
The best advice I can give is get a professional editor or several—someone to critique your plot, find holes, see to consistency and pacing and what have you. Then a line editor to comb the language for smoothness and clarity. It’s good practice for taking criticism—perhaps the author’s main job—and also it will teach you how to write. If you take these experts’ advice, you’ll find your writing gets better and better more quickly than if you did a degree in creative Writing with no specific feedback. Don’t push back! It will only improve your work.
What are your future plans as an author?
I’m starting on a second Egyptian series, a spin-off of The Lord Hani Mysteries, which features his daughter Neferet. She’s a spunky, somewhat counter-cultural heroine who is a physician in the capital city of Waset. She’s been a reader favorite as a child and teenager; now she’s old enough to carry her own novels, with dad Hani’s presence at the side.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Plots proliferate. Murders multiply. Can Hani save the Two Lands from a terrible war… or is he the next target?
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up the book and read it?!
Thanks once again, N.L. Holmes, for this lovely interview!
The Magic of Wor(l)ds