Monday, March 18, 2013

Fiona Ingram, author of The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

Author Bio:
About the Author: Fiona Ingram (B.A., Hons. (Natal), M.A., (Wits)) was born and educated in South Africa, and has worked as a full-time journalist and editor. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel has resulted in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—Chronicles of the Stone. Fiona has recently completed the second book entitled The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, a treat for young King Arthur fans. She is busy with Book 3 entitled The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.

Title: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab
Author: Fiona Ingram
ISBN: 9781908400215 (Kindle)
Page count: 272 pages (includes map and graphics).
Genre: Juvenile Fiction (middle grade 9-13)
Price: $2.99

Book Synopsis: A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the cousins and their scarab, do the boys realise they are in terrible danger. Dr. Khalid wants the relic at all costs. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr. Khalid kidnaps them. They survive terrifying dangers in a hostile environment (such as a giant cobra, as well as sinking sand), pursued by enemies in their quest to solve the secret of the sacred scarab. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out. They must also learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another!

How long did it take to write the book?
I had a full-time job so it took me two years (on and off) to write the book.

What inspired you to write the book?
My wonderful mother wanted to visit Egypt (the setting for the story), and she took my two young nephews (10 and 12 at the time) and me on a trip of a lifetime. I decided to write a short story for my nephews, featuring them as the heroes. The short story became a book that became a book series!

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
I did masses of research for the first book (The Secret of the Sacred Scarab) because so many intellectual tomes have been written on this magnificent culture that I was terrified of getting my facts wrong. Once the book series was up and running, I began to research the next book while writing. All the adventures involve different locations, and include geography, history, legends, and archaeology. I love history and research so it’s actually a lot of fun. I write every day. When I take a break, I feel guilty.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I want readers of all ages to put the book down and say, “Phew! What an amazing adventure!” I have had so much positive feedback from kids and adults. The adventures are exciting, but there is always a message beneath the story: my young heroes are always tested on many levels. They respond according to their true natures, and what they believe is right. So, I hope there is a gentle moral lesson for the discerning reader.

Excerpt from book:
Adam awoke with a start from a strange, muddled dream of being chased by giant snakes and then trapped in a stone sarcophagus, beating his hands against the lid. When he opened his eyes, however, he wasn’t in a sarcophagus. He lay on his side on a dirt floor. His head felt thick and heavy. His mouth was parched.
That’s strange. Why can’t I move my hands and feet?
He looked down and saw that his wrists and ankles were tied. The rope chafed his skin and his whole body ached. He knew the scarab was still in his pocket because he could feel it pressing into his leg. He looked around, moving as little as possible. He lay just inside a shallow cave. The two Egyptians squatted in the entrance, smoking, and talking quietly in Arabic. A small fire crackled in front of them. Beyond the two silhouettes, he could see the star-studded sky with a full moon floating high above. He shivered. It was chilly.
Nighttime already? We must have been asleep for hours. Aunt Isabel and Gran will be frantic. We’re in big trouble.
He craned his neck to see where Justin was. A shadowy bundle lay near his feet.
“Justin,” he whispered.
“Mmm?” Justin murmured.
“Are you okay?”
“As much as anyone can be after being kidnapped, drugged, and tied up,” Justin muttered crossly.
“I mean it. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I guess so but I’m dying of thirst and I’m starving. My stomach’s growling.”
“So is mine,” Adam admitted. “I wonder if they’ll give us food.”
One of the men, hearing them stir, grunted, gesturing to his companion. The second man, who was short and chubby, fetched a bottle of water and two pieces of greasy meat. He untied only the boys’ hands and then shifted them into a sitting position so they could eat and drink. Adam stared suspiciously at the charred chunk of meat. He sniffed it, wrinkled his nose, and then turned his face aside, holding the meat away from him between two fingers.
“No, thanks. It stinks.”
The man yelled at him in Arabic, pointing first to the meat and then to the desert. Then he grabbed the piece of meat and shook it under Adam’s nose.
“Adam, he’s telling you to eat because you’ll need it.” Justin sounded impatient. “It’s obvious they’re taking us somewhere.”
Adam folded his arms and stuck out his lower lip. “It smells disgusting. I won’t eat it.”
Justin took a bite out of his chunk. “If it was the last meal on earth you’d eat it.” He chewed cautiously a few times. Then he mumbled with his mouth full, “It’s not that bad. I promise. Just smells a bit strong.”
The first man, who was tall and lean, stalked over to Adam and barked in broken English, “You eat this now.”
He thrust the meat roughly into Adam’s hands. Black cloths wrapped around both men’s faces concealed all their features except their dark gleaming eyes, which stared menacingly at Adam until he took a tentative bite. They watched him chew and then went back to the cave entrance.
“Well,” Justin chirped, “it’s clear they have to make sure we arrive alive.”
He always felt much more cheerful after he’d eaten something.

Where can we go to buy your book?

Any other links or info you'd like to share?
The book website has a Purchase page where there are many other print and e-book options.
The website also has a really fun, interactive journey where readers can follow the heroes as they discover the secret of the sacred scarab. At the end of the journey, readers must crack the Curse of Thoth to read the first chapter of the second book.


  1. This is a marvelous post. The book sounds wonderful--a real treat for kids yearning for an adventure. Thanks for posting, and good luck with your intriguing story.

  2. I've read this book and it is really good. Now to get the author to writer sequel.

  3. Thanks for the lovely comments. Good news! Book 2 is being laid out as we speak and I have a tentative launch date for July 2013. I will keep Virginia updated!