This book group was from my own church, and I was delighted by the positive feedback. When you’re narrating about faith and talking to your own church (including the pastor’s wife) about it, it’s extremely gratifying to receive feedback that other people “got” what I was trying to say and appreciated it, particularly my Biblical references.
One of the questions posed was how I came up with the story. The questioner mentioned the scene where An talks about daydreaming in class, and I was asked if I was narrating about myself (i.e., during church). Historical facts aside, how did I come up with the rest of the story? How did I give voice to this girl?
Talk about the best question to ask an author!
I think the best way to answer that question is with another question. I wrote my story by posing questions to myself. What would I do in An’s situation? That’s what came to me when I was exploring the Tut exhibit in 2012. What would it be like to become a ruler at age 12? To marry your brother? To watch your loved ones die? So many questions about An spun around in my mind as I walked through the exhibit and later while reading the book about the exhibit.
With regards to my antagonist character, Ay’s main problem in my story was that he did NOT see things through someone else’s eyes. He was focused on what he was not given. So what questions did I ask myself about him? The key for me was An’s disappearance after he took the throne. Coupled with her plea for a foreign prince to be sent as her husband instead of her marrying one of her countrymen, I began to wonder what Ay’s true motivations were. What would make a person turn against their family? An was clearly frightened. She went to her enemy rather than her own people for salvation. Something was terribly wrong, and for me that was rooted with the person who took the throne next. That was why he became the “villain” character of my book. In the end of my book, for the rest of his life, Ay was cursed to view life through someone else’s eyes during their suffering & death.
One aspect of my story, mentioned during the book club discussion, actually tied in to a sermon at our church given the day before my talk. From Luke 9 : 28 - 36, it reads “…Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus. They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem. Peter and the others had fallen asleep. When they woke up, they saw Jesus’ glory and the two men standing with him. As Moses and Elijah were starting to leave, Peter, not even knowing what he was saying, blurted out, ‘Master, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ But even as he was saying this, a cloud overshadowed them, and terror gripped them as the cloud covered them. Then a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.’ When the voice finished, Jesus was there alone.”
At the end of my story, one of these figures appears in a cloud to An, Ay, and others. This is the climax to my story; the moment where reckoning comes! It is also a time when God offers mercy and healing to those suffering. While descending from the clouds is not a power related to the particular Biblical character who acts as God’s voice to the Egyptians, in the Bible, it is a power best described in Luke 9 as a manifestation of God. A cloud descends upon Jesus’ disciples. Moses is seen in association with this divine moment. This scene in my book was a moment to illustrate God’s divine power in any and all circumstances. Through Him, all things are possible.
At the end of the night, I was left wowed. What an experience! I really hope I can repeat it someday soon. To share my love of ancient Egypt and writing with others was a treat. It was humbling and inspiring to me all at once. As an author, to get positive feedback on your hard work is great motivation. Now back to editing book two. I’ve got a goal to release it this year!
Many thanks to the Mt. Olive Book Group for reading my book and sharing their thoughts! It was a marvelous evening for this self-published author!