Monday, July 16, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with Diana Wilder

1. Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:

The title:  Pharaoh's Son

It is classified as Historical Fiction, and fits into the 'Historical Mystery' category.  Because it has a strong supernatural involvement, I also classify it with 'Historical Fantasy'.

Tagline: Something hidden deep in the temple is stirring.  Something that must be found and brought to the light before the walkers in darkness find it and turn it to evil.

2. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Pharaoh's Son is written for those who enjoy good, multi-layered mysteries, adventure, and good historical fiction in an authentic setting.  It offers these with a twist.

3. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

'Pharaoh's Son' is the literal translation for the ancient Egyptian title 'Prince'.  The story revolves around the actions of several princes - sons of Ramesses II ('the great').  It was a working title; it stuck.

4. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Without a doubt it is Hori, the Crown Prince, one of the three major characters.  He is a complex man, with some unexpected quirks.  Historically, he was the Commander in Chief of the armies of Egypt.  I envisioned one who held such a position as very direct,, intolerant of waffling, and tending to speak to the point.  He is all that, but he has some traits that set him aside.  He was called back to the capitol before the start of the story, and he took it as exile and indulged his sense of outrage and anger.  At the start of the story he has a sense of having done wrong and wanting to set it right: but how to go about it?  He is intuitive - many soldiers are, and, unexpectedly, he plays the harp when he wants to relax. 

5. How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

The unappealing characters, for me, are the whiners,  There is one, a villain, who is resentful of those who have wealth and privilege.  He becomes involved in the plot and comes up against Hori, to his detriment.  This man changes in the course of the story, and his final appearance, alive, shows resolution, determination and concern for others.

6. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?

I'd change the title.  'Pharaoh's Son' is, indeed, the translation for 'Prince' in ancient Egyptian.  But so is 'King's Son'.  I had originally given the book that title.  I used 'Pharaoh's Son' instead thinking it would appeal to a wider audience.  Ignoring instincts without thinking things through is not a good idea.  Whether or not Pharaoh's Son appeals to a wider audience, I think 'King's Son' would have been better.

7. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

The other major Prince in the story - Khaemwaset ('Khay' in the story) actually did go crawling around the pyramids and investigating the Necropolis outside ancient Memphis.  He is considered the first archeologist in history, and if you visit that area you will find inscriptions from him, by permission of his father, that read rather like museum labels.

8. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I make the best chocolate stout cake you will ever eat.  Aside from that and writing, I show cats and clerk for show judges, and I work in graphic design in a small way.

9. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

I have a blog at  This has my thoughts and ramblings on various subjects.  My website is  I'm also on Goodreads.

10. What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm currently working on a story that comes before Pharaoh's Son.  It's a little different from my usual.  It involves a highly-placed man - Ramesses' father - dealing with the needless death of his son.  He learns of the death only after his son was buried. The story covers the summer after his son's death, when he stays in a small village of artists and makes himself useful.  It's been challenging to deal with a character who is very private and self-possessed as he faces his grief - and falls in love.  The initial manuscript is nearly finished, and the book is set to be released  the end of July.  The (more or less) finalized cover is on my blog.

I'm working in other periods, as well, with three other stories in the works.

11. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Pass the word on.  Write a review.  (And I'd love to hear from anyone who enjoyed one of my books).

12. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

In each case I would say 'if you aren't enjoying it, don't do it'.  Life is too short to suffer through books that don't 'speak' to you, or to write books that you can't get your heart and soul into.  As a writer, the advice I was given was 'Write Good Books'.  My initial reaction was a variation of 'duh', but as I thought things through over the years I realized that I was not being told to write books that sell well, but to write books that were the very best that I, myself, could make them.  My stories deserved nothing less than my best effort - and those people who trusted their time to me and read my writing absolutely required it.  How could I not give them my best?  To the writer, I'd say that people can tell when something is cranked out to make a quick sale, or to pander to a trend.  People are perceptive, and they can tell when they are being manipulated - and no one deserves to be the target of manipulation.

13. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Criticism is a good thing.  Even something that says 'It stinks!' can be taken the right way.  But also be aware of what it is that you want, what is imperative for you, what is good quality, and stick with it.

14. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

I'd be delighted!  This is a scene from the beginning of the story, one of my favorites:

**   **   **

In this scene, Khay (the first Prince you meet, is going inside the temple's pylon - facade - to see if he can find out what made a 40-foot statue suddenly fall over.  He is accompanied by the Guard Captain - Achtoy.  Khay has a  sprained ankle from the fall of the statue and can't move quickly).

The brilliant sunlight stopped abruptly as Khay ducked beneath the lintel of the small, dark doorway that opened into the pylon's inner stairway. He hesitated at the threshold and looked up the incline of steps to the small window that opened from the landing.

Achtoy, who had gone ahead of him, paused at the landing and looked back and down. "Highness?" he said.

Khay took a deep breath. For a moment it had felt as though a voice had whispered in his ear.

Achtoy's hushed voice awoke echoes that rippled through the darkness like the flight of bats. "Is anything wrong, Highness?"

"It's nothing," Khay said as he started up the steps. "I'm a little out of breath. It's dark and close in here."

Achtoy nodded--Khay caught the motion in the darkness--and went on ahead up the steps, his sandals whispering on the smooth stones.
The sense of foreboding grew as Khay went deeper within the mountain of stone. His heartbeat began thudding in his ears.

A long landing leading to a small room had been built into the stonework, and four windows opened out over the courtyard. Khay hesitated. He wanted to pause and gaze out over the fallen statue, but the dark closeness was drawing in about him. He hurried on.
The feeling of danger increased as he emerged from the stairway, but it was easier to master in the full sunlight. Khay took a slow breath and then moved to the edge of the rampart, where a staff lay discarded. It was a Was scepter, a jackal-headed staff used almost exclusively by priests.

He lifted the bronze-pointed butt of the staff and cocked an eyebrow at Achtoy. "There," he said. "This is what they jabbed the colossus with."

"Your Highness is right," the Guard Commander agreed. "I can see the scarring on the point, but from this distance, standing atop this pylon, it'd be impossible to reach the statue. Do you think it could have been used from the window in the landing?"
"Probably," Khay replied. "I think it was a gesture of pure annoyance."

He leaned on the pylon and gazed down at the wreck of the colossus below. The gouges on the statue's left shoulder could be clearly seen, showing paler where the paint, the red-brown of a sun-bronzed man, had been chipped loose from the creamy limestone beneath. Running up the back slab of the colossus was the legend:

Erected by the Son of Re, the Lord of the Two Lands, Seti Mery-En-Ptah, in the Second Year of His Reign, to the Glorification of the Great God Ptah, Mighty One of Memphis.

The inscription was broken midway down, and on the very base of the plinth, where no one would normally see it, was the throne name of the king.

"'How the mighty are fallen'," quoted Khay, gazing down at the statue. Its mate, standing on the left side of the doorway, seemed to be looking down at the broken colossus with, Khay thought suddenly, a mixture of envy and surprise.
Achtoy turned and started to say something.

"Hush," said Khay, raising his hand. The drone of voices below sounded like shouts in the sudden stillness. "Silence them," he said.

The stillness surged back and in the sudden hush Khay heard the sound again, a grating noise, like a stone being dragged across a stone courtyard. A wave of pure foreboding suddenly engulfed him. It felt as though a huge hand had reached into his breast and wrung the air from his lungs and the blood from his heart. . He reeled and took a half-staggering step sideways.

"Call to the people below," he said through lips that were suddenly white and stiff. "They must get away from the pylon at once!"

He tried to lean back against the wall while Achtoy obeyed, but the sun-warmed stone seemed to heave and move like a living presence behind him, and he felt a quiver beneath his hand, as though he were touching the flank of a restive horse.

"Now let's get down from here," he said as Achtoy turned back.

"Give me your arm, Achtoy. I can't move quickly with this ankle, and we don't have any time to waste!"

They hurried down the stairway, their footsteps echoing.

Khay drew a shaking breath. "Faster," he said. "I can hear the stones moving.


"Run!" Khay snapped.

They erupted into bright sunlight, into the middle of a murmuring throng.

"Clear the courtyard!" Khay shouted. "Out of reach of the obelisks! Hurry!"

The crowd surged away from the pylon in a widening circle, but their motion seemed as slow to Khay's anguished gaze as the painful, labored movement in a stifling nightmare of closeness and terror.

The rumble that Khay had heard only in his mind burst upon them like a cataclysm.

The statue!

The cry was torn from every throat as a quiver shook the second colossus. The king seemed to be trying to break free of the encasing stone and step away from the pylon.

A crash split the air; the colossus strode forward in a shower of falling stones and reeled, the ground collapsing about its base. It turned slowly, halfway toward the pylon; Khay could see the faint, calm smile in its downcast eyes before it crashed headlong to the ground beside its mate.

The two faces almost touched, almost kissed in greeting before the dust billowed up about the statues and slowly subsided, lightening the brown shoulders, dulling the gold leaf that adorned the headdresses, the royal crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt.

The wails of the bystanders changed to shrieks of dismay and snatches of terrified prayer as the face of the pylon rippled like a gauze hanging before a high wind. The roar of the wind was suddenly the roar of stone being torn asunder.

The pylon seemed to tower up and up, building cubit upon cubit, ready to break and crash over them like a great wave of stone, almost translucent in the brassy midday sun. The roar built to a shriek as the massive gateway shuddered and broke into a crash and spray of splintering stone.

Khay's dazzled eyes were riveted to the brightly painted carvings that disintegrated as he gazed. The vulture-goddess, offering the feather of triumph to Seti, wheeled and screamed. Armies raised their hands with cries of dismay, besieged cities tumbled, weapons clashed and broke, chariots splintered. Khay seemed to see his grandfather throw up his arms to shield his face as the southeast pylon gateway of the great temple of Ptah at Memphis subsided against the ground in a wave of rubble.

Thank you Diana for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview! I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at


No comments:

Post a Comment