NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Michelle Moran Speaks about THE HERETIC QUEEN

Michelle Moran graciously offered to answer questions readers of Books 'N Border Collies have about her writing and Ladytink jumped right in with some great ones! Here is the first of Michelle's answers:

Ladytink asks:

What made you want to write about this particular queen?

Michelle Moran:

Hi Ladytink,

Thank you for asking! I think I'll answer your questions in several posts, because a few of them require longer answers.

In many ways, The Heretic Queen is a natural progression from my debut novel Nefertiti. It tells the story of Nefertari, who suffers terribly because of her relationship to the reviled “Heretic Queen”. Despite the Heretic Queen’s death many years past, Nefertari is still tainted by her relationship to her aunt, Queen 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 taken a trip to Egypt and 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. 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 figured it was about $20 a gulp), 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.

As if we didn't want to read the book enough as it was? :-) But there's more! Tune in tomorrow when Michelle talks about her research, music, and the influence of other authors.

If you have a question for Michelle, post it in the comments at Michelle Moran Q & A. And if you haven't gotten in on the Michelle Moran Giveaway yet, there are still a few days left! The drawing will be held Monday and the winners announced on Tuesday, September 16, the release date of THE HERETIC QUEEN.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Too bad I'm too poor for such an experience! I'm enjoying reading her answers because I finished reading Nefertiti recently, and it's become one of my favorite books! And I'm the first one to tell you I'm not the biggest fan of historical fiction. I can't wait for The Heretic Queen!

Michelle Moran said...

Thank you so much, Anna! Yes, I was certainly poorer after that experience. Good thing I sold a book ;]

Amanda said...

Wow! That's an amazing story! It's sad that the average person really can't afford to see some of these wonders but it's also good for the preservation of these places. I'm looking forward to reading these books!

Michelle Moran said...

Thank you, Amanda! It is a real shame. And they don't even allow non-flash photography, so you can't capture the experience for anyone else either! Perhaps things will change in the future. It wasn't always so expensive.

Ladytink_534 said...

Thanks for answering my question! I'd like to go to Egypt one day myself (and several other places as well) but until then, I like visiting via book!

Anonymous said...

How neat! Way to go, Ladytink_534! Great question.