21 June 2011

An Interview With author Amira Aly

One of the things that I wanted to do with my blog, dear reader, was to expand it in different directions, to boldly go where no-one has gone before (thanks Captain Kirk!).

I have been wanting to undertake an interview with a person of interest for a long time now. Fortunately, all the planets aligned and I came across a person who fitted the bill for my first ever interview. Hopefully, it will be the first of many.

Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly introduce to you Amira Aly, author of "The battle for Ma'at - book 1 Egypt the Uprising". I was introduced to Amira, fairly recently and can honestly say that she is one of the nicest people that your path could cross. Aside from that, Amira spins a great yarn based on fact and fiction.

So without further a do, I give you my interview with Amira Aly!

Q1 – Amira, you recently published your debut novel “Egypt the Uprising – Battle for Maat” which, I must say is a great read. What gave you the inspiration to write it? How long did it take u to write it?

Originally, I'd been writing a novel about Aya meeting Ma'at set in a post-apocalyptic Egypt, to try and restore order peace and justice to the world. With looting of the Egyptian museum by thugs during the early days of the revolution, I felt that somehow there is a story to be told here... about the interaction between the supernatural and the mundane.

I played the 'What if' game. What if there was an ancient relic in the museum that a dictator wants to use? What if the uprising had ancient and mystical roots? What if the trumpet of king Tut that lies in the museum, dubbed the 'Trumpet of War' was sounded?

Strangely enough, a few weeks later I saw an article talking about King Tutankhamun's "trumpet of war" and how Zahi Hawass, Minister of State for Antiquities, talks about a Japanese delegation 'sounding the horn' a week before the revolution actually started. So, this inspired me to add in the Japanese twist in the book.

The book is basically a fictionalized, or alternate, reality if you will-- mixed with a dash of fantasy and adventure. It is my tribute to the Egyptian revolution and freedom fighters all over the Arab world.
The writing and editing was completed in a little under three months.

Q2 – Are the characters based on people you know including yourself?

Many people assume that my protagonist Aya is based, at least partially, on me. Is it because of the curly hair? Or the tenaciousness in her? I am not sure. But what I do know, however, that this is a sign of success. When you choose the first person point of view, you become the character and the character becomes you-- so in we are, in a way, one.

Generally, I create my characters with faces and personalities entirely their own. But I guess there are bits and pieces of me in a few of the characters: Nour's scientific rationalizations, Aya' s fiery spirit and Celeste's love for pink.

Ben ben (the majestic bird summoned by Aya) is actually based on a person! Vincent Brown ( @Bennu ) http://twitter.com/#!/Bennu who is your go-to guy for all things Ancient Egyptian. Also, in book two of the series, a new male character, loosely based on one of my close friends, will be introduced.

Q3 – What research did you undertake to write your novel?

I heavily researched ancient Egyptian myths and their various interpretations. I researched extensively mainstream Egyptology, "alternative archaeology", and lost myths. I also read a few books and articles about elements pertaining to the sci-fi aspect of the novel.

Q4 – the novel has a fantasy / historical theme. Is this a genre that you like yourself?

Very much so. I am a fan of the strange and the paranormal, anything out-of-this world attracts me.

Q5 – The “Battle for Maat” is part 1 of “Egypt the Uprising”. When will part 2 be out?

Actually, the series title is the Battle for Maat. Book 1, Egypt the Uprising is the first of the series, to be followed , sometimes in September, by "Egypt the Standstill".

Q6 – How many parts can we expect?

Right now, I have plans for seven books (my lucky number!)

Q7 – Amira, tell me a little about yourself?

I don't really fancy talking about myself, but I did have a pretty interesting life. I lived and was educated in two countries, Egypt and Canada. I studied to be a physician but ended up being a full time writer. I am also a full-time mother but still trying to find that little corner in the world that is mine.

My varied experiences made me a person full of contradictions and liable to experience many ups and downs. I always lived in my own parallel world, making stories to explain all things difficult to comprehend.

Freedom and the fight for justice have always been huge for me. At the age of 10, I had completed an inter-galactic fight for freedom epic story--which was unfortunately written and illustrated on my Grandmother's living room walls.

Q8 – I know you are multilingual (I am envious). How many languages do you speak?

English, Arabic and French.

Q9 – When you are not writing, what do you do for relaxation?

I read, for my own pleasure and to my kids. I also tweet and play video games :)

Q10 – In 5 years’ time what do you think you will be doing?

I think I will most definitely be writing, perhaps even more than now because my children will be older. I might even start a small publishing house and put out Egyptian mythology-based comic books!

Q11 – Any advice you can give to budding writers?

The most important is to write. Whatever happens, write. Whatever stands in your way, write. Write for the love of writing, for the sake of the craft, but not for fame or money. Let go of your insecurities and write.

After you write, you need to start listening. Listen to the feedback your readers give you. Listen to what they liked or didn't like. Seek out constructive criticism if you can, It's the only way you can improve.

Q12 – Thank you, Amira for your time. One last question, how can people purchase your novel?

It is in digital format only for the moment.

It is available as an ebook on Amazon kindle http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0053TRH22/ref=cm_cr_dpvoterdr?ie=UTF8&isSRAdmin#R1BP3M9CDNJMUR.2115.Helpful.Reviews

Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/egypt-amira-aly/1031383476?ean=2940012903723&itm=1&usri=egypt%2bthe%2buprising%2bbattle%2bfor%2bmaat

Diesel Bookstores http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/item/9781456603403/Aly-Amira-Egypt-The-Uprising-The-Battle-for-Maat-Book-1/1.html

and available on multiple formats here https://www.ebookit.com/books/0000000695/Egypt-The-Uprising-The-Battle-for-Maat-Book-1.html

And on Kobo http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Egypt-The-Uprising-The-Battle/book-uZqg6rQP5kiKbCxdZ0cJxg/page1.html

And soon to be on the Apple iBook Store!

And finally, how can anyone get in touch with you to find out more about your book?

Catch me on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/FEM4Ever

My Author Website http://amiraaly.wordpress.com/

Blog http://www.battleformaat.com/

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