GUEST POST GIVEAWAY: Michelle Moran - Cleopatra's Daughter

UK cover
CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER: a novel
The death of Cleopatra was only the beginning...

Visit CleopatrasDaughter.com
Check out Michelle's blog at michellemoran.blogspot.com

Michelle Moran is the author of the bestselling historical fiction Nefertiti and its standalone sequel, The Heretic Queen. Her third novel, Cleopatra's Daughter, will debut September 15, 2009.

Check out the competition to win a hardcover copy of Cleopatra's Daughter - below! UK & International can enter. Closing date September 10th - so hurry!

Open to entrants from anywhere in the world!

Guest Post by Michelle Morgan

For every novel I have written, I can look back and say that there has been a very specific moment of inspiration - usually in some exotic locale or inside a museum - where I’ve said, “Aha! That’s going to be the subject of my next novel.” I never began my writing career with the intention to write books about three different princesses in Egypt. In fact, I had no intention of writing about ancient Egypt at all until I participated in my first archaeological dig.

During my sophomore year in college, I found myself sitting in Anthropology 101, and when the professor mentioned that she was looking for volunteers who would like to join a dig in Israel, I was one of the first students to sign up. When I got to Israel, however, all of my archaeological dreams were dashed (probably because they centered around Indiana Jones). There were no fedora wearing men, no cities carved into rock, and certainly no Ark of the Covenant. I was very disappointed. Not only would a fedora have seemed out of place, but I couldn’t even use the tiny brushes I had packed. Apparently, archaeology is more about digging big ditches with pickaxes rather than dusting off artifacts. And it had never occurred to me until then that in order to get to those artifacts, one had to dig deep into the earth. Volunteering on an archaeological dig was hot, it was sweaty, it was incredibly dirty, and when I look back on the experience through the rose-tinged glasses of time, I think, Wow, was it fantastic! Especially when our team discovered an Egyptian scarab that proved the ancient Israelites had once traded with the Egyptians. Looking at that scarab in the dirt, I began to wonder who had owned it, and what had possessed them to undertake the long journey from their homeland to the fledgling country of Israel.

On my flight back to America I stopped in Berlin, and with a newfound appreciation for Egyptology, I visited the museum where Nefertiti’s limestone bust was being housed. The graceful curve of Nefertiti’s neck, her arched brows, and the faintest hint of a smile were captivating to me. Who was this woman with her self-possessed gaze and stunning features? I wanted to know more about Nefertiti’s story, but when I began the research into her life, it proved incredibly difficult. She’d been a woman who’d inspired powerful emotions when she lived over three thousand years ago, and those who had despised her had attempted to erase her name from history. Yet even in the face of such ancient vengeance, some clues remained.

As a young girl Nefertiti had married a Pharaoh who was determined to erase the gods of Egypt and replace them with a sun-god he called Aten. It seemed that Nefertiti’s family allowed her to marry this impetuous king in the hopes that she would tame his wild ambitions. What happened instead, however, was that Nefertiti joined him in building his own capital of Amarna where they ruled together as god and goddess. But the alluring Nefertiti had a sister who seemed to keep her grounded, and in an image of her found in Amarna, the sister is standing off to one side, her arms down while everyone else is enthusiastically praising the royal couple. From this image, and a wealth of other evidence, I tried to recreate the epic life of an Egyptian queen whose husband was to become known as the Heretic King.

Each novel I’ve written has had a similar moment of inspiration for me. In many ways, my second book, The Heretic Queen is a natural progression from Nefertiti. The narrator is orphaned Nefertari, who suffers terribly because of her relationship to the reviled "Heretic Queen". Despite the Heretic Queen's death a generation prior, Nefertari is still tainted by her relationship to Nefertiti, and when young Ramesses falls in love and wishes to marry her, it is a struggle not just against an angry court, but against the wishes of a rebellious people.

But perhaps I would never have chosen to write on Nefertari at all if I hadn't seen her magnificent tomb. At one time, visiting her tomb was practically free, but today, a trip underground to see one of the most magnificent places on earth can cost upwards of five thousand dollars (yes, you read that right). If you want to share the cost and go with a group, the cost lowers to the bargain-basement price of about three thousand. As a guide told us of the phenomenal price, I looked at my husband, and he looked at me. We had flown more than seven thousand miles, suffered the indignities of having to wear the same clothes for three days because of lost luggage… and really, what were the possibilities of our ever returning to Egypt again? There was only one choice. We paid the outrageous price, and I have never forgotten the experience.

While breathing in some of the most expensive air in the world, I saw a tomb that wasn't just fit for a queen, but a goddess. In fact, Nefertari was only one of two (possibly three) queens ever deified in her lifetime, and as I gazed at the vibrant images on her tomb - jackals and bulls, cobras and gods - I knew that this wasn't just any woman, but a woman who had been loved fiercely when she was alive. Because I am a sucker for romances, particularly if those romances actually happened, I immediately wanted to know more about Nefertari and Ramesses the Great. So my next stop was the Hall of Mummies at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. There, resting beneath a heavy arc of glass, was the great Pharaoh himself. For a ninety-something year old man, he didn't look too bad. His short red hair was combed back neatly and his face seemed strangely peaceful in its three thousand year repose. I tried to imagine him as he'd been when he was young - strong, athletic, frighteningly rash and incredibly romantic. Buildings and poetry remain today as testaments to Ramesses's softer side, and in one of Ramesses's more famous poems he calls Nefertari "the one for whom the sun shines." His poetry to her can be found from Luxor to Abu Simbel, and it was my visit to Abu Simbel (where Ramesses built a temple for Nefertari) where I finally decided that I had to tell their story.

It’s the moments like this that an historical fiction author lives for. And it probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that my decision to write Cleopatra’s Daughter came on an underwater dive to see the submerged city of ancient Alexandria. Traveling has been enormously important in my career. My adventures end up inspiring not only what I’m currently writing, but what I’m going to write about in the future.
COMPETITION!
Michelle has very kindly offer to post the prize to anywhere in the world.

For a chance to win a hardcover copy of Cleopatra's Daughter:

Become a Google follower AND Comment to say:
1) you follow
2)your email address
so I can contact you if you are the winner!
*This instantly counts as TWO entries--BUT you have to do both!*

Want extra chances to win?

Click here for further details of how to gain more entries!

Closing date September 10th -- so get your entries in NOW! LOL

Good luck!
Sassy
:)


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26 comments:

  1. I am a follower of your blog.

    Please enter my name in your draw.
    Thanks.

    wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  2. i am a follower

    spvaughan@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh am I number one-sign me up for what I know will be a great read. I am following you.

    thanks

    chocolateandcroissants at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  4. following you on twitter
    chocolateandcroissants at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Andrea10:15 pm

    I just became a follower :) please enter me a
    andie.v107(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous3:17 am

    need a good end of summer read..thx for the contest..
    thehighflyer3(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great contest and Guest Post. I really like the sound of this book.
    I have just become a follower.
    everythingtodowithbooks@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. My Sassy please enter me! You already know I'm an old follower :)

    -Eleni
    lafemmereaders@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Sassy Brit! No need to enter me as I have a copy coming to me to review, but just wanted to say what a great post this was! Nice insight of Michelle and her writing!

    Suzanne

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am a follower of your blog. :)
    milkavainamo@lyseo.edu.ouka.fi

    ReplyDelete
  11. I follow

    ella_press AT live.com.ar

    Thank you!
    I love everything Egyptian <3

    ReplyDelete
  12. Already follow!!!! Please count me in, thanks!

    delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  13. USAsockmonkey11:37 pm

    I already follow you (rubymoon/Ally)


    I'd love to be entered into this giveaway.

    rubymoonstone at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  14. I became a follower of your blog, found the contest at La Femme Readers.

    My email is goodbooksandgoodwine[at]gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. I follow

    (question- if we follow, why do we need to post a visible email - can't you just click our name to get to our profile?)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am a follower and please give me a chance to win this book.

    grottis6 [at] gmail [.] com

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I am a follower of your blog.!!!

    sounds great can't wait to read this one

    thanks

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    ReplyDelete
  18. I follow your blog!

    roxxyroller(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    ReplyDelete
  20. Mary D
    zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

    Hi :) I just signed up to follow you fun blog via Google Friend Connect.

    Please enter me as I have so been wanting to win this one - looks delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Mary D
    zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

    I just signed the GuestBook thingy for an extra entry :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Enter me please!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. i follow
    thanks
    flower_child_23(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  24. Would love to win a signed copy!

    booklogged AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  25. I am a google follower.

    booklogged AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  26. I follow your blog


    Canadian Contests, Freebies, Coupons, Deals, Games and Chat - join us at http://forum.coolcanucks.ca/


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    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to leave a sassy comment. It's truly appreciated. I aim to get back to you as soon as possible -- Sassy :)