Every once in a while someone writes a book that I know my readers will be especially interested in. Merrie P. Wycoff’s Shadow of the Sun is one of them. Merrie tells the story of the Pharaoh Akhenaten from the perspective of his daughter, Merit-Aten. Here’s what she has to say about the book.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself? I was born in San Jose, CA and when I was 10 years old we took a class trip to the Rosicrucian Museum where I discovered a colossal statue of Pharaoh Akhenaten and was mesmerized. I vowed to discover the truth about this unusual looking man who history had deemed ‘a heretic.’ After college I moved to Los Angeles and worked as a lead Segment Producer for Entertainment Tonight for six years. Then moved to Colorado where I reside today.
Would you please tell us about your latest book? Shadow of the Sun is a paranormal historical novel set in Ancient Egypt. The story is told through the eyes of Pharaoh Akhenaten’s and Queen Nefertiti’s first daughter who is born to save her family and bring peace to her country after her parents introduce a revolutionary form of peaceful worship during a dark reign of terror. The problem is that her parents’ have dramatically different views on how she should do it.
Pharaoh Akhenaten desires that Merit-Aten remain chaste and take the perilous path of an Egyptian Mystery School initiate while Queen Nefertiti demands that Merit-Aten choose a consort and produce more heirs to ensure the family’s survival. Merit is forced to choose her own destiny, but can she do it without destroying everyone she loves?
What made you interested in writing this particular story? I have always been fascinated with Egyptian history. I am currently earning my Egyptology degree at the University of Manchester. But, on my second trip to Egypt in 2007 with Stephen Mehler, we traveled with an ancient Egyptian wisdom keeper, Abd’El Hakim Awyan who dramatically changed my perspective and introduced me to an entirely different point of view. I yearned to show my readers something new about an ancient civilization.
What does a typical writing day look like? I love to write. I write whenever I have a chance. Lunchtime, before dinner or late at night. I just need quiet so that my scenes can come alive…like watching a movie. I have to hear it, taste it, smell it and see it. The characters tell me their story. I just listen.
Can you describe your writing process? Research. Research. Research. Readers want to know what kind of tea they were drinking. It took me seven years to write this. Probably could have done it sooner if I had an outline. My next book will take less time.
How did you come up with your title? Akh means child or shadow of the mother in the Khemitian (Egyptian) language because children follow their mothers everywhere. The sun refers to the Aten which is the form of monotheistic worship that Pharaoh Akhenaten introduced back after he wiped out the pantheon of gilded gods. The ruling deity at that time was Amun, the Hidden One who lived in the shadows when the priests ruled Egypt with greed, superstition and fear.
What advice do you have for writers who have not yet been published? Summon up your will forces to sit down every day and write. Then find a great editor to polish your work. Make it excellent. The publishing world is being turned upside down by those of us who are self-publishing. My story is unique but it isn’t a vampire or zombie novel so although agents loved it they didn’t want to take a chance.
Name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity. My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Conant who believed in me. Drunvalo Melchizidek who urged me to write this story. And my mother who kept a bust of Nefertiti on the mantle while I was growing up. Life plants clues we just have to be aware of them.
If your book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why? Dark chocolate with a hint of chile because it is exotic, flavorful and a bit spicy.
Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today? Prior to her birth, Princess Merit-Aten remembers that she made a contract with the heaven lords to save her family. She negotiated for superior knowledge. Unfortunately that gets her into a lot of trouble and doesn’t make her popular with her older classmates. She discovers jealously, lies, betrayal, murder and magic within the warring court. Merit-Aten’s ability to talk to animals, see colorful auras around everyone and her obsession with the forbidden use of magic in order to further her cause stirs up a lot of drama.
If you could host a magical dinner party, who are the six people (living or otherwise) you’d include? Stevie Nicks, Marie Antoinette, Queen Guinevere, Mary Magdalene, Count St. Germain, and Thoth.
What are you working on right now?My second book in The Shadow Saga is called Stealing the Shadow of Death.
Find out more about Merrie and her novels at http://merriepwycoff.com/