Today’s interview is with C.M.T. Stibbe, author of Chasing Pharaohs and The Fowler’s Snare, exquisitely written historical fantasies set in ancient Egypt.
Hi Lela, thank you so much for interviewing me. I’m originally from Berkshire, England. My father was a housemaster at Bradfield College for many years before becoming Head Master of the King Edward School in Norwich. I think it was his courage to survive a war, his stories and his love of English literature that inspired me to write.
I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1995 and I have been there ever since. They call New Mexico ‘the land of enchantment’ and for those of us who have never found our way home, ‘the land of entrapment.’ My husband is American and my son is half Navajo.
What were your major literary influences?
The first adult novel I read was Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, a Victorian poet who wrote about a declining rural society set in Wessex. I was fascinated by the way Hardy made his characters so life-like, how we could easily resonate with their suffering and sadness―a theme so central in his work.
Yes. Location is extremely important and it often becomes a character in itself. I have stayed in Luxor, the ancient city of Thebes in Upper Egypt. It is a magical place, so easy to imagine Thebes as the major military capital and to see the pharaohs in their luxurious palaces. The Valley of the Kings makes a perfect setting for Commander Shenq’s ambush in my novel―slopes of scree spill into rock spurs and limestone clefts make for great hiding places.
What type of central characters do you like to write about?
My central characters are outcasts, people thrust outside society by flaws and emotional torment. These people are the stuff great stories are made of and many readers enjoy relating to them.
What is something you cannot do without?
The Bible, a God-breathed book that describes the founding and preservation of the nation of Israel’s people. A few other things would definitely include my family, a laptop, and a really good cup of coffee!
The research for Chasing Pharaohs took almost a year, including interviewing historians, researching databases, visiting libraries, and travelling to Egypt. There is nothing like smelling, tasting and sensing the sights of the places we write about. I chose the 18th dynasty because these were the golden years comprising some of the most famous Pharaohs of ancient Egypt.
Chasing Pharaohs is loosely based on the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose II and his sister-wife Queen Hatshepsut. Their court is far from straightforward: wives competing for power and priests brandishing the flail. Ancient Egypt has always lent itself to mystery and intrigue, and a little scandal here and there. Not only are these characters manipulative, they are robust and entertaining. Some are true to history and some have been conjured from my own imagination.
Commander Shenq, a fighting spirit and much feared by his superiors, is something of an enigma. Using sword and spear, he must struggle several conflicting loyalties if he is to break free. The paranoid Pharaoh, who has a grudging respect for Shenq, would like nothing better than to keep him in the palace as his personal bodyguard. But Shenq has a job to do and a fiend to find, and he is the only man who can find a way to get the job done.
The Fowler’s Snare is the second in the series. Only this time Pharaoh Kheper-Re holds a chariot race to determine who will be the next Supreme Commander of Thebes. This book is set outside Thebes, a race to the death that takes place in Egypt’s infamous white desert.
The third book is about a princess, a gift from a foreign King to cement ties with Egypt. This time Pharaoh Kheper-Re is so lovesick, he forgets all his other wives, including his Queen.
Tell me about your detective fiction.
I have just completed a detective thriller set in New Mexico which will be published by Crooked Cat Publishers in the fall of 2015. The central character is a detective of Ethiopian and British descent who works for the Duke City Police Department in Albuquerque. He is not much liked by his superiors and is considered as ‘an unusual dog in the fight.’ It gives just the right mix of character to spice up the plot and for readers to enjoy the cultural differences. Detective Temeke must solve a crime that involves the kidnap and slaughter of young girls.
With a taste for the macabre, Norwegian fugitive Ole Eriksen has arrived undetected in America. He’s not on the FBI’s most wanted list. He’s not on any list. Translating the events of his past into distorted strands of Norse mythology, Ole’s goal is to abduct and kill nine girls during the ninth hour to feed the god Odin’s desire for the mead of wisdom. He plays a game of cat and mouse to thwart the police and stalking young girls is not just a casual hobby. It has become a grisly obsession
What do you enjoy the most about being an author?
I think one of the rewards of writing is being able to make up your own characters, living with them, and watching them endure the most lethal conditions and coming out of it better than they went in.
What other projects are you working on?
I always have several projects on the go and there are a few Medieval/Tudor stories languishing in my head. Right now, the Chasing Pharaohs series and the Detective Temeke series are full time babies.
To find out more about CMT Stibbe’s books, visit her website at http://www.cmtstibbe.com. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ClaireStibbeGoogle: https://plus.google.com/+CMTStibbe/posts Twitter: https://twitter.com/CMTStibbe
Claire is also a member of the New Mexico Book Co-op and the Southwest Writers Association.