Although pre-pub copies have been for sale on Amazon.com for a few weeks, today marks the official release date of my new book, The Great Scarab Scam. Hurray!
Written for 8-12 year-olds and set in modern-day Egypt, the plot follows eleven-year-old Lydia Hartley as she helps to solve a mystery that has plagued both her archaeologist father and her Egyptian hosts for years. Along the way, Lydia makes new friends, deepens her appreciation for her often irritating brothers, and discovers an inner self-reliance she never knew she had.
Q: When did you write the book?
A: Believe it or not—I first came up with the story as part of my seventh-grade English homework. Our teacher asked us to write about something we loved more than anything. I loved Egypt and I loved archaeology. At the time I was twelve, and my little brother was two. I decided to write a story about a girl with a baby brother and how they get to go to Egypt where all sorts of madcap adventures await them.
The idea stayed with me for a long time afterwards and when I became interested in writing, I wanted to try writing for children. I remembered that homework assignment and it eventually became The Great Scarab Scam. At various stages I would start, abandon it, restart it, and then put it away for another year or two. Last year I decided I really wanted to share it with young readers and the time felt right to go to print. It seemed the perfect book to launch the new incarnation of my publishing company, Dava Books.
Q: How did you do your research?
A: Reading, reading, and more reading! And of course I took a trip to Egypt. Like my main character, Lydia Hartley, my trip was not all I thought it would be. While it was incredible to see things like the pyramids and the Tutankhamen treasures first-hand, the heat, crowds, and not feeling my best health-wise made the journey somewhat difficult.
Q: Why did you choose to write a mystery?
A: For the sheer fun of it. I loved the challenge of working out my plot and foreshadowing, and weaving in various surprises whenever I could. Because I’m usually what’s referred to as a “pantster” (someone who writes by the seat of their pants), the order and calm of writing to an outline was very restful. I enjoyed creating the puzzle.
Writing tip of the day: Do you remember a story or an assignment you wrote in school? Is there something you could turn into a piece for young readers today?