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.
Tell us something about yourself:
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 do you do for a living?
I’m doing a course to qualify as a part-time proofreader and copy editor. Then I will be working full-time for Kingdom Writing Solutions, dividing half my day between proofreading for authors and writing my own books.
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.
Your bio says you’ve done a lot of traveling. Have you been to some of the places you describe in Chasing Pharaohs?
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!
You and I could definitely hang-out and get along. Tell us about Chasing Pharaohs. How did you develop it?
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.
And, The Fowler’s Snare continues the story?
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.
Oh-oh, that sounds like trouble. Now tell me about your detective fiction.
At the moment, I’m writing a novel set in New Mexico. The central character is a middle-aged, pot-smoking detective of Ethiopian and British descent. It gives just the right mix of character to spice up the plot and for readers to enjoy the cultural differences. Detective Van Straubenzee must solve a crime that involves the kidnap and slaughter of young girls.
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 Van Straubenzee series are full time babies.
To find out more about CMT Stibbe’s books, visit her website at http://www.cmtstibbe.com.
Claire is also a member of the New Mexico Book Coop and the Southwest Writers Association.
Chasing Pharaohs: (Historical Fantasy Fiction)
In the aftermath of a battle between the great powers of Egypt and her old foe Kush, Pharaoh Kheper-Re rules Thebes, the city of the golden gates. But still the wars rage on and the kingdom is on the brink of chaos. Kheper-Re fears an invasion by his old nemesis in Alodia and with the help of his most favored Commander he musters a group of men more deadly than the enemy he fears. As the future of Egypt hangs in the balance Commander Shenq, leader of Pharaoh’s Most Honored Ones, must protect Thebes from a Shadow-Hunter and his army of ten thousand men. The Queen, too, is making plans―with a few followers of her own. And as a Hebrew prophet interprets dreams and a bodyguard hears rumors, the quest for peace has never been more challenging. Commander Shenq must drive out all threats to the throne and bring the assassin to heel.
The Fowler’s Snare: (Historical Fantasy Fiction)
When a band of Alodian outcasts crosses the border to Egypt, Pharaoh Kheper-Re invites them to compete in a grueling chariot race across the western desert against his bodyguard, Commander Shenq. The prize is great; the winner will be awarded the title of Supreme Commander of Thebes.
Determined to win, Commander Shenq and his team enter the race confronting the most brutal of obstacles. Not only must they beat the Alodians, they must also triumph over the punishing terrain, the savage desert jackals, and above all the Imazi, a group of flesh-eating nomads.
With so much at stake, treachery and sorcery are once again in season as the princes of two rival kingdoms go head-to-head. It is a race that will cost the loser everything he holds dear.
The 9th Hour: (Suspense/Thriller) Will be released 2015.
Until a man loses his daughter to a serial killer, until he loses his best friend, until he is down on his luck, Darryl Williams must put all thoughts of retaliation out of his mind.
Nine year-old Kizzy Williams is taken from a campsite in the night. Partial human remains discovered at a remote ranch and a small red journal is known to be hers. A serial killer is on the run and Detective Van Straubenzee must piece together the last days of Kizzy’s life by way of an interview with the only prisoner he has.