Interview with Stephanie Thornton about Ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut, Eating Chocolate, and Writing History

Daughter of the Gods, Stephanie Thornton~
Interview and Giveaway

THERE IS A GIVEAWAY ON THIS POST!

Before we get to our interview with Stephanie Thornton, author of Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt, you can enter to win a copy of the fabulous book by clicking on the Rafflecopter link HERE. You must reside in US or Canada, though. Sorry, these are the rules from Historical Fiction Virtual Tours. You have until May 30 to enter!

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Hi Stephanie, my friend!! I am so happy to have you back here on Oh, for the Hook of a Book for your to entrance readers with your amazing wit and funny bone…..well, maybe a little bit of historical tidbits as well. I’ll try not to monopolize too much of your extremely busy schedule, but I hope you’ll come in for a chat, some coffee, and I made us special some Cadbury eggs cupcakes from the Cadbury Mini-Eggs I saved especially to bake for you!! So, what kind of coffee creamer can get for you?

Stephanie: You had me at Cadbury mini-eggs! And actually, do you have any wine? Why not go all out to celebrate, right?

Erin: Yep, have wine too, will pour you a much needed glass. Have a plop down on my comfy couch, feel free to put your feet on my coffee table, and tell me how you’ve been this week? How EXCITED are you for Daughter of the Gods to publish???!! (I know I am THRILLED!!! :D)

Daughter of the Gods(1)

Stephanie: This has been a whirlwind of a week, but I’m ecstatic to finally see Daughter of the Gods hit the shelves. My daughter told me when she was three that she’d “publish” it for me by putting its stack of printer paper pages on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. Super cute, but the real thing is even better!

Erin: I know I had you stop by for an interview when The Secret History, your novel of Empress Theodora, published. That was a super interview and anyone who missed that can read it HERE. But I think I’ll have a few new questions for you this time around. So let’s get started.

Q: Your novel, The Secret History, was a huge debut success. But you actually wrote Daughter of the Gods before The Secret History in your writing process. How does it feel to publish two books within such a short time period even if some of the writing was done before hand? Did you have to re-edit any of it? Finally, how does it feel to finally spread it out into the world? And with such a lovely cover too!!

A: I tore apart Daughter of the Gods while The Secret History was on submission with publishers, but still had to do another revision for my editor. Fortunately, it was fairly light and then it was given a drool-worthy cover. One of my life goals was to get Hatshepsut’s story published, so I’m thrilled to be able to cross that one off my bucket list.

Q: Your second book, Daughter of the Gods, is about Hatshepsut, one of Egypt’s most successful Pharaohs (even being a female!). Tell us about your OBSESSION with Hatshepsut. What inspired it, when did it start, what fuels it, and why do you admire her?

A: First, Hatshepsut is from ancient Egypt which is hands-down my favorite historical era of all time. I stumbled across her after being assigned a biography project in junior high. I wanted a famous female Egyptian, but Cleopatra was taken. The good old encyclopedia (remember those?) had an entry on Hatshepsut, but it was pretty short. Later, I was able to read Joyce Tyldesley’s Hatchepsut and that really started my obsession. Hatshepsut is such an intriguing, enigmatic character, especially considering that she was almost wiped from history by her nephew, Tutmose III, at the end of his rule. She ruled a man’s world and did it better than most of the men who came both before and after her, and that alone justifies my adoration of her.

Statue of Hatshepsut on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art/ Wikipedia

Statue of Hatshepsut on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art/ Wikipedia

Q: What part of her life does Daughter of the Gods focus on, or is it a life-long biographical fiction? What makes your novel vary from the average biography? How much is fact-based and how much is fantasy?

A: I stuck to the known facts of Hatshepsut’s life, but unlike a biography, had to fill in the gaps for her motivations and also some of her family life. Egyptians were good about documenting when people died (or really, failing to mention them again once they were gone), but didn’t record how people died or why they did the things they did. Thus, for example, I chose to have Hatshepsut’s sister die during a hippo hunt gone awry, when in reality she may have died of something as simple as an infection. I chose to focus on Hatshepsut’s early years, her marriage to her half-brother through her regency, and finally to her assumption of the Isis Throne. That’s where all the juicy stuff happens!

Q: Hatshepsut is regarded as one of the major influential and successful women in history. What types of things did she accomplish and why is she so highly regarded?

A: Hatshepsut likely quelled a rebellion in Kush (there are tomb descriptions of her on the battlefield, but this may have been propaganda as Egyptian pharaohs often exaggerated their accomplishments). However, she did reopen trade routes with the land of Punt, build her amazing temple at Deir el-Bahri, the Red Chapel, and numerous obelisks in Karnak, several of which you can still see today. Her reign ushered in an era of peace, thus beginning Egypt’s Golden Age. Not only that, but she also started the first public zoo, using many of the animals—giraffes, baboons, etc.—that were brought back from Punt. That’s a pretty impressive resume!

Q: Isn’t it too bad that the false beard represented power and many of her statues feature her with one? I wonder how she really looked like and what she dressed like in her real life? Any ideas?

A: There are depictions of Hatshepsut as Great Royal Wife on various temples, but they’re stylized as is common in ancient Egyptian art. She likely wore what most noblewomen did at the time—loose sheaths made of lightweight linen. However, based on Hatshepsut’s mummy, she was fairly short, had the Thutmosid family overbite, and was extremely overweight at her death.

Q: What factual non-fiction books, movies, documentaries have you seen or read about her that you can recommend to us as adults?

There is a History Channel documentary on the discovery of Hatshepsut’s mummy that came out about six years ago, and Joyce Tyldesley’s Hatchepsut is a solid read about Hat’s entire life. Egyptologist Kara Cooney is also coming out with a new biography this fall that I’m excited to read!

Q: With my middle daughter being part-Egyptian, I’d love her to learn more about this amazing woman from her culture. Do you found books in the middle reader to teen sect that she might be interested in?

Sadly, I don’t know of any books about Hatshepsut that are aimed at a younger audience. I did hear a few years back about a picture book based on the zoo Hatshepsut created with the animals from Punt, but have never found a copy.

Q: Daughter of the Gods is launching now, but you have another book already done that you wrote this year, called The Tiger Queens, which is coming out on November 4. Can you briefly tell us about this?

A: The Tiger Queens is the story of Genghis Khan’s first wife and daughter, as well as his daughter-in-law and a Persian slave. It’s something a historical family saga, spanning 80 years from Genghis’ early life to the ascension of his grandson Mongke. It’s a pretty wild ride and quite the departure from the golden palaces of Hatshepsut and Theodora!

Tiger Queens

Q: How did you juggle the announcements and work with The Secret History, Daughter of the Gods, and then writing and editing Tiger Queens all within a year? Plus, add to that your full-time teaching job, running, baking cupcakes, taking care of your daughter, and…and…and…what is your secret to do it all so successfully?

A: I don’t sleep. (And I eat a lot of cupcakes and ice cream cake, hence the running.) I’d die without Post-Its to keep my to-do lists straight each day. Also, I make sure I travel fairly regularly so I can leave some of the work at home!

Q: What have you learned about yourself and about your writing over the last whirlwind of a year?

A: I have to be disciplined. There are writers out there who can write and revise a book in just a few months and then take time off from writing, but that’s impossible with my crazy schedule. So I plod along with just a few pages a day. Eventually it adds up and then I’ve got a book!

Q: Do you write with an outline or by the seat of your pants? How do you focus yourself and keep details organized?

A: I make an outline of all the historical events that I have to include and go from there. I didn’t outline The Tiger Queens as much as I should have which resulted in some painful revisions. I’ve got an eight-page outline for Book #4 to try to avoid repeating that misery and keep all my details straight!

Q: How have your honed your research, writing, and editing talents that you already are putting to good use on your NEXT book about Alexander the Great?

A: I’ve got a fairly good process for getting the plot set in my first draft, revising for characterization and sub-plots during my first revision, and then cleaning up the prose and adding quirky historical setting details in my subsequent edits. I’ve learned to leave out the setting details until last simply because they’re my favorite part and I can rarely bring myself to delete them once they’re there, even if I know I need to delete the scene they’re in!

Q: So Tiger Queens is next and you are currently writing your fourth novel. When can we expect to see that publish? What is next after that for you? What other women in history intrigue you that you might put on the short list to write about?

A: The book about Alexander the Great will come out in November 2015. After that I’m not sure whom I’ll write about!

Q: OK, some fun things are at hand now. What is your favorite Doctor Who episode to date? What movie(s) are you looking forward to seeing this summer?

A: I love every episode of Doctor Who! (Except maybe Love & Monsters because the ending was so weird.) I’m a sucker for a good romance, so I’ll say the end of Season 2 with Army of Ghosts/Doomsday, mostly because I bawled my eyes out. Sadly, I have no idea what movies are coming out this summer. I only get to the theater to see kid-friendly movies and summers in Alaska are glorious, so we tend to hit the movies only when it’s winter: dark and cold.

Q: Now that Easter is over, and the Cadbury Eggs on our cupcakes today are probably our last, what is your new choice of candy to get you through the day (or evening)?

A: What?! No more Cadbury Eggs? That’s sacrilege! Lately I’ve been eating a lot of Reese’s peanut butter cups, but I actually bake so much that we usually have brownies and cookies in the house. (Again, hence all the running I have to do.)

Q: If you could time travel what two places would you go to?

A: Egypt, straight to Hatshepsut’s palace to find out the answers to all the questions I have for. (Especially about her and Senenmut.) As for the second… Probably to ancient Greece so I could grill Alexander the Great and all my characters for Book #4!

Q: Where can readers and writers connect with you?

A: My website is www.stephanie-thornton.com, and I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads!

Erin: THANK YOU, Stephanie, for hanging out with me a little while here. It’s always a highlight of my day to connect with you. I know that Daughter of the Gods is going to be a HUGE HIT and I am so stoked about your success. It’s well-deserved to such an astounding writer and even equally awesome person. Talk to you soon!

Stephanie: Thanks so much for having me, Erin! And thank you especially for the Cadbury mini-egg cupcakes!

Daughter of the Gods, Synopsis~

Daughter of the Gods(1)Publication Date: May 6, 2014
NAL Trade
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Egypt, 1400s BC. The pharaoh’s pampered second daughter, lively, intelligent Hatshepsut, delights in racing her chariot through the marketplace and testing her archery skills in the Nile’s marshlands. But the death of her elder sister, Neferubity, in a gruesome accident arising from Hatshepsut’s games forces her to confront her guilt…and sets her on a profoundly changed course.

Hatshepsut enters a loveless marriage with her half brother, Thut, to secure his claim to the Isis Throne and produce a male heir. But it is another of Thut’s wives, the commoner Aset, who bears him a son, while Hatshepsut develops a searing attraction for his brilliant adviser Senenmut. And when Thut suddenly dies, Hatshepsut becomes de facto ruler, as regent to her two-year-old nephew.

Once, Hatshepsut anticipated being free to live and love as she chose. Now she must put Egypt first. Ever daring, she will lead a vast army and build great temples, but always she will be torn between the demands of leadership and the desires of her heart. And even as she makes her boldest move of all, her enemies will plot her downfall….

Once again, Stephanie Thornton brings to life a remarkable woman from the distant past whose willingness to defy tradition changed the course of history.

Praise for Daughter of the Gods~

“Daughter of the Gods is a wonderfully intimate and dramatic evocation of Ancient Egypt, where one headstrong young woman dares to become pharaoh. Stephanie Thornton vividly portrays the heat and the danger, the passion and the heartbreak of Hatshepsut’s struggle, as she defies even the gods to ensure success on the throne of Egypt. A touching love story combines with a thrilling tale of death, courage and political intrigue to produce a superbly researched and powerfully written novel. This is the kind of book that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. A remarkable story, remarkably told.” -Kate Furnivall, author of Shadows on the Nile

“Stephanie Thornton’s heroines are bold, brave, and powerful–they make me want to stand up and cheer!” -Kate Quinn, author of Lady of the Eternal City

“Daughter of the Gods is a full-out, total immersion experience of ancient Egypt. From her moving love affair with a commoner to her fierce and unwavering commitment to Egypt as a female Pharaoh, Hatshepsut crackles with fascinating complexity. Her ka must be grinning with pleasure at this richly textured account of her life, one that is worthy of the great queen herself. “ -Vicky Alvear Shecter, author of Cleopatra’s Moon “An epic saga that brings ancient Egypt to life with vivid imagery and lovely prose. Stephanie Thornton is a rising star!” -Stephanie Dray, author of Lily of the Nile

Buy the Book~

Amazon US (Kindle)
Amazon US (Paperback)
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
Books-a-Million
IndieBound
Kobo Books

About the Author~

Stephanie ThorntonStephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.

“The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora” is available from NAL/Penguin, and “Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt” will hit the shelves May 2014 and “The Tiger Queens: A Novel of Genghis Khan” will follow in Fall 2014.

For more information, please visit Stephanie Thornton’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

 Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/daughterofthegodstour

Tour Hashtags: #DaughteroftheGodsTour #StephanieThornton #Hatshepsut #VirtualBookTour

Daughter of the Gods_Tour Banner _FINAL

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5 Comments

Filed under Q and A with Authors

5 responses to “Interview with Stephanie Thornton about Ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut, Eating Chocolate, and Writing History

  1. Love anything to do with ancient Egypt. Ive been to Hatshepsut’s temple. It’s incredible – even by Egyptian standards, She was quite some woman. Born way ahead of her time. Fab interview, ladies!

    Like

  2. I’ve always been fascinated with Hatshepsut. So glad she’s getting attention.

    Like

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