Welcome to The Aten Sequence series of science fantasy books for young adults and big kids everywhere. Aten is fed up. Who would have thought that a little mistake like forgetting to fill up at the intergalactic service station would get him stuck on a sorry planet at the end of the Universe called Earth. He is desperate to leave, but needs to find huge amounts of gold to make fuel for his ship. So he plans to empty the gold vaults of Karnak Temple. After all, whatever could go wrong?
Well I never thought that I would ever actually get to this point. After years of prevaricating, procrastinating, not writing the end, re-writing, splitting the book into two, adding new characters and sub-plots, editing, formatting and general dithering, my very first full length science fantasy novel for young adults, Pharaoh’s Gold – The Aten Sequence 1, is being self-published on 7th January 2013 through BookBaby. It will be available to download through Amazon Kindle, iBookstore, Sony, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Copia, Gardner’s, eBookPie, and eSentral and will retail for $1.99 in the US and around £1.20 in the United Kingdom.
So what is Pharaoh’s Gold all about? It follows the adventures of an immortal being called Aten, who is now stuck on Earth because he forgot to fill up with fuel at the last intergalactic service station. As he was on course to meet up with his wicked Uncle Lucie and help him conqueror the Universe, time is of the essence and he is desperate to find enough gold to make more fuel for his ship. His has already tried other time zones on Earth and has acquired a couple of travelling companions on the way. One is a Victorian gentleman with the facial features and paws of a basset hound called Druitt and the other a teenage boy called Luke from the 21st century. Add a tempestuous Galasian cocktail waitress and a wayward computer that calls itself Zoom into the mix and it’s easy to see why Aten’s plans to get into the vaults of the great temple of Karnak in Thebes do not exactly go to plan. Aten completely underestimates the obstacles that he will have to overcome and, crucially, also the talents and dedication of the Egyptians who will do anything in their power to protect the treasures of their temple. Will he be able to outfox the mighty High Priest Neferhotep? Will he be able to manipulate the politics and rivalries of Pharaoh’s court to his own end, so that the next Pharaoh to hold the seals of Karnak’s gold vaults will be one of his own making?
While the names of the Egyptian royal family that I have used from this time in Ancient Egypt’s 18th dynasty are real, this book is pure fantasy and has no basis in historical fact. I do hope that Pharaoh Amenophis III and his family are not turning in their mummy wrappings at my fictional descriptions of their looks, characters and life stories. But as the very worst thing that could happen to an Ancient Egyptian after death was to be forgotten, their names erased from history and never uttered again, they might just be grateful that their names are being brought back to life and back on the lips of the living.
Pharaoh Amenophis III
I started writing this book one rainy Sunday afternoon in 2006 and was totally amazed that I wrote close on 5,000 words in a few weeks. But real life kept on intruding and the unfolding story of Aten and his friends would be set aside for weeks on end. In 2007 I sold my flat and went travelling in Australia and New Zealand and one of my goals was to finish the book while I was away. I had dreams of sitting on a balcony overlooking the sea, being gently caressed by tropical breezes and the heat of a golden sun. There would be looking golden sand, swaying palm trees and crashing waves as I typed away, the beauty of the scene laid out before me stimulating my creative juices. Real life intruded once more and I did a lot of thinking about the plot but not an awful lot of writing. However, I got to see a lot of amazing places, met some really great people and took thousands of beautiful photographs.
On my return to England work and social life took over once more and it wasn’t until the summer of 2011 that I really put my mind to it and started writing in earnest. I was so diligent and brimming with ideas that I wrote well over 100,000 words and came to the reluctant conclusion that the book might now be just a bit too long. From too few words to too many, what was I to do? Well, my answer was to split it into two separate books which then necessitated writing a new ending for the first part, a new beginning for the second part and a new secondary story line for the first. I had had a working title of ‘The Hall of the Golden Crocodiles’, but annoyingly that fitted the second half much better, so now had to come up with a new title for part one. See how you can avoid finishing a writing project when you really put your mind to it?
I then had a little diversion and put the short stories that I had written into a compilation called ‘Ghosts and Other Really Big Surprises’ which I loaded onto Amazon for Kindle download. Strangely enough it was not the publishing phenomenon of 2012 that we writers dream of, although I am profoundly grateful to all those fifteen people who have bought it. This November I decided that enough is enough and it was finally time to bite the bullet and get this book out there into the world. So for several weeks I edited, formatted, rewrote and edited some more. The moment I uploaded Pharaoh’s Gold to BookBaby for conversion and to have a cover designed was one of the scariest of my life. My baby was finally leaving home! Was I delusional to think that I could write nearly 70,000 words that people would want to read? Had I in fact written gibberish? Had I even uploaded the right file? All these thoughts were whirling through my head and it did bring me to a realisation that it is very easy to criticize books and the way authors write, but that every single one of them has gone through a similar process and devoted hours and hours to putting their stories into words.
When the proposed cover design arrived I breathed a big sigh of relief as it was just the way that I had envisioned it. I was also thankful that someone has seemingly magically picked out the image I had in my head and translated it into reality from my garbled brief. So all is now set for the big day in just over a week’s time. Pharaoh’s Gold is dedicated to Anna McCann and Debra Lestrade who have both followed the action from the very start, have made some very helpful suggestions and have even said that they enjoyed reading it! Apparently, according to all the gurus, I should have started promoting the book over a year ago, so I guess this is a bit of a late start. But if only one person downloads it and enjoys Aten’s adventures in Ancient Egypt as he tries to steal the gold that he needs for his space ship fuel, it will have been worth it. Although several million readers buying it and thinking that Pharaoh’s Gold is the best thing that they have ever read would be even better!