Daughter of Maat
Release date: November 18, 2018 – Publisher: Blue Benu Press
Editor: Kristin Carlsen – Cover Artist: Mariah Sinclair
“Sandy Esene has written a real page-turner. It’s Dan Brown goes to Egypt with a delightful dash of Harry Potter thrown in. A wonderful read, and she’s got the Egyptology right!”
Bob Brier, Author of The Murder of Tutankhamen
“If you like Egyptian Mythology and the excitement of Indiana Jones adventures, this book is for you!”
Pat Remler, Author of Egyptian Mythology A to Z
Hello Sandy! Let’s start out with what literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
The literary pilgrimages I’ve been on haven’t been for novels written by other authors but have been self-imposed writing retreats on trains. The first was from Seattle (where I live) to Chicago and the second was to L.A. and back. I loved it so much! It was wonderful to be “stuck” on the train while exploring my story. Whenever I needed a break or a moment to stare off into space, it was awesome to look out my window and watch the landscape flash by. On the high bunk in my little roomette, I would fall asleep with the curtains open imagining the unknown destinations I was passing through as the train clackitiy-clacked me to sleep. At the break of dawn, I would awaken to the most glorious sunrises I’d ever seen.
How wonderful! What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I belong to an amazing group of writers. We are all in various stages of our writing journey and we support each other in so many different ways. There is no way I would be where I am without them. Our group formed out of a writing class we had taken at a local university. I believe that finding a productive and committed writing group is a crucial element of a successful writer’s journey.
That sounds fantastic! You are a lucky woman! So, here’s one… What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Writing courses, writer’s conferences, professional cover designer and editors.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
As a person in the world, I’ve always thought my animal avatar would be a sea otter. I love how playful and clever they are. As an author, I would choose a unicorn because they live in a realm of myth and magic, and that is just the place where my stories land. In full disclosure, I don’t write high fantasy, which is the sub-genre of fantasy I generally associate as the dwelling-places of unicorns. However, as a magical creature, I would think they could prance about in any fantasy genre they choose, even contemporary fantasy/adventures with ancient world influences like mine. When I am creating fictional realms that might exist in ancient Egypt or a museum in New York City, my imagined world flows through me, much like I imagine magic would flow through a unicorn.
I love it! What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
My KHNM series is influenced greatly by the myth and culture of ancient Egypt. I have spent the past decade or so learning all that I can about that ancient culture. Between courses I’ve taken and the traveling I’ve done, I’ve become a fairly knowledgeable Egyptophile. Over the years, I’ve made connections with some world-renowned Egyptologists who have been very gracious in answering questions for me. I am always happy to fall into the rabbit hole of research. Not only do I find research fascinating, but I frequently get fresh ideas for the book I am working on or for future books through it. In the future, I plan to write a contemporary fantasy that is set in the Pacific Northwest featuring the natural world. Although I don’t plan on starting that book for a couple of years, I’ve already started reading up on the flora and fauna around me. I love to feel that I am as fluent as I possibly can be in the subject matter I am writing about.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I do add Easter eggs throughout my novels for readers who are really into ancient Egypt and the ancient world. I really get a kick out seeding my book with surprises that may only delight and entertain a few.
And what made you want to become a writer?
One year I participated in NaNoWriMo with my husband. After that November, my story kept calling to me. I ended up taking some writing courses at a local university and haven’t looked back. If someone would have told me I would be furiously trying to finish my second novel a few years ago, I would have thought them crazy.
What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
I don’t know that this was an actual criticism, it was more of a scarring moment of man-splaining. A male editor went to great trouble to tell me that I should change my protagonist from female (Alex) to a male character (Niles). Apparently, he was of the opinion that my novel Daughter of Maat would have been better if Niles “saved” Alex. He even went so far to write a scene with dialog to highlight how this could play out. The nerve!
Oh no! Have you ever considered writing in another genre?
Nope. I absolutely love writing fantasy. I may, over time, explore subgenres within fantasy, but I don’t see myself writing anything else.
(answer in ONE or TWO words)
Would you prefer living in the city or country?
What color best describes your personality?
What are you most passionate about? BESIDES family!
Dogs! Jewelry making!
What do you consider your best attribute?
What’s your favorite beverage?
A smooth bourbon
What song best sums you up?
Pure Imagination (Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka)
What does your desk look like right now? Clean or messy?
Are you a night owl or an early bird?
What book are you reading at the moment?
A friend’s as of yet unpublished book
What would you take with you to a desert island?
My jewelry making kit, my laptop and a crank generator.
If you could invite anyone, dead or alive, to dinner, who would it be?
What would be your ideal holiday destination?
What time in history would you have liked to be born in?
This one, indoor plumbing is awesome!
If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
Meryl Streep, because I think she could play anyone well
DIY or call an expert?
Depends on the situation
What is your favorite fruit?
Really good strawberries
What is your favorite thing to learn about in your free time?
What is your favorite time of day?
Probably about 7 or 8 at night
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
A little loosey-goosey on both
Music or silence
Depends on my environment
Let’s Read An Excerpt:
As before, they wandered through the labyrinth of hallways and office doors in silence. Alex figured she could suspend her disbelief a little longer. And truth be told, she found it delightfully strange to wander through the empty museum at night. As they strolled through the immense maze of exhibits, her pulse raced with excitement. It was as if they were trespassing on hallowed ground. Around each corner she expected to see a night watchman who would toss them out unceremoniously into the night. Alex couldn’t remember the last time she experienced such a giddy enchantment.
If she were able to stand still for a moment and truly listen to the silence around her, she believed she would hear the echoes of the innumerable whispered conversations that layered these grand halls over the years.
Alex’s gaze was drawn to a dull glimmer ahead on the floor. Her treasure-hunting instincts kicked in. Like a magpie, she loved found souvenirs. Instead of buying a T-shirt or any other mass-produced trash and trinket, she was always on the lookout for nontraditional keepsakes. Something that would transport her back to the moment she found them.
Alex swooped it up and peered at her new find as Buxton charged on. In her palm rested a single purple-blue crystal bead the size of a robin’s egg. It must have fallen off a visitor’s bracelet or key chain. Even in the dim light of the hallway it gleamed with a bright radiance. She etched the moment in her mind and then dropped it into her scribe’s bag, quickening her pace to catch up with Buxton.
He walked toward a long, gently sloping ramp. Moonlight flooded in at its base. Absent of drafts or the scent of autumn air, the space ahead seemed incongruously open to the night. Alex knew it couldn’t be. Museums had stringent climate controls to ensure the proper temperature for the longevity of the art and artifacts housed within their walls. When she caught up with Buxton, the space revealed itself to her. A two-story slanting grid of glass allowed the brilliant light of the full moon to illuminate the ancient sandstone jewel that lay before her. It was a temple under glass.
It was the Temple of Dendur. A gift of thanks to the United States in the 1960s for help in relocating the ancient temples that would have been swallowed by the newly created Lake Nasser, when the Aswan High Dam was completed. The sandstone blocks of the temple glowed in the bright, yet ethereal light that streamed through the massive glass panes.
The design of the exhibition space for the temple allowed visitors to amble in and around the temple. She imagined crowds of clamoring tourists, some chewing gum as they wandered through this marvel, some wondering what they should have for lunch, most without truly experiencing its immense beauty.
She grinned from ear to ear. “Thank you, Buxton. It is truly amazing. But I don’t see how this proves anything at all.”
“Have patience,” he said. “The temple alone is stupendous. However, it pales in comparison to what I am about to show you.”
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