It is my great pleasure to be able to sit down with the author of The Curse of Nefertiti, Charline Ratcliff! If you recall last week's post, I gave the book a stunning review. Now I am proud to have the chance to pick her brilliant mind!
Clara: What spurred you to write the book?
Charline: I had a very lifelike dream the night of November 14th, 2006. While these vivid dreams are not unusual for me, I never wrote them down prior to this one. In all honesty if my dream had not centered around Nefertiti I probably would not have written this one down either and my book The Curse of Nefertiti would never have come to be.
Clara: Fortunately for us you did!
Tell us a bit about the history you used in the book.
Charline: As far as the history I used in The Curse of Nefertiti. Hmmm… That’s a little challenging to answer!
For starters, I have always seemed to have an innate knowledge regarding all things Egyptian. Consequently, I didn’t really do much in the way of research for my novel. It was also important to me to merge real Egyptian history with Egyptian mythology in order to make the story seem more factual than not.
For example, it is true that Nefertiti was married to Akhenaten and that her step-son was Tutankhamen. It is also true that Egyptians were polytheists; meaning they worshipped multiple deities. However, all that changed during Akhenaten’s reign when he introduced monotheism — the worship of a single god or deity. Shortly after Akhenaten’s death, Egypt reverted back to Polytheism.
I based part of The Curse of Nefertiti around the myth of Sekhmet nearly destroying Egypt in its entirety during an annual festival held in her honor. The Nile was turned red, the color of blood, in order to trick Sekhmet into drinking from it. In the legend it was beer colored with pomegranate juice to make the river red and she drank it all, passed out, and Egypt was saved from her blood-lust.
As far as the history of Nefertiti; not much is known about her. I imagine she was a powerful and commanding woman and I portrayed her as such throughout the book. Historical accounts recall her as an extremely beautiful woman and her name literally means “the beautiful one has come.” Neither her tomb nor her body was ever unearthed and I feel this adds even more mystique and mystery to who she was. Burial was one of the most sacred things to an Egyptian and a proper burial was required so that after death one could successfully move into the next realm. One can only wonder just how much power and influence she actually wielded that she would have been denied entrance to the afterlife by those who handled her lifeless body…
Clara: How much time did you spend researching?
Charline: I really didn’t spend much time researching. The words flowed out as if they had a mind of their own and I allowed the story to shape itself. As far as the rest of the locations visited within the book, I have been to them all and could call upon memory to write knowledgeably about them.
Clara: Did you find the historical events in this novel to be an inspiration or something you needed to work into the story in order for it to be accurate / believable?
Charline: *chuckle* I would say I found the historical events to be inspirational and truthfully it was much easier for me to write about ancient Egypt than it was for me to write about the present day.
Clara: How much time did it take you to write and edit the novel to perfection?
Charline: Honestly, it took me almost six months non-stop to write The Curse of Nefertiti. Mind you, only about half of that was dedicated to the actual writing of the story; the remainder of the time was because, never having written a novel before, I had no idea what I was doing.
Perfection? *snicker* I think “perfection” is an unattainable goal and writers strive for “as good as it gets.” What I mean by that is this: I can write a chapter, read through, edit and tweak the chapter. The next day I will read the same chapter and decide there are things I MUST change. Sometimes we writers are our own worst enemies…
Clara: Oh, certainly. That is a challenge for everyone, I think.
How did you work around your hectic lifestyle in order to get this done?
Charline: When I was writing The Curse of Nefertiti it was pretty much all-consuming. If I had to leave the house I did so only under duress and I came back as quickly as I could. There was no setting it aside to do other things. The story floated through my head continuously with no “stop” or “pause” button. Thankfully I have since learned to juggle life with writing which makes it much easier on me and wow! I even have a tan now!
Clara: What do you think was the one moment in the whole process which means the most to you?
Charline: The moment that meant the most to me? May 17th, 2008. I was on the 202 driving east. It was a beautiful morning; the sun was shining; the temperature was just right, and a slight breeze was blowing. I had the sun-roof open and the windows were down. I remember looking out my driver’s door window to the north as the freeway curved around to the left. At that precise moment the knowledge that I had actually written a book truly hit me. I experienced the most amazing feeling of accomplishment and I remember feeling so proud of myself. (Tears even welled up in my eyes.) That was also when I realized writing is my passion and it’s what I want to do the rest of my life.
Clara: And of course, the all-consuming question in everyone's mind: Do you plan on writing a sequel?
Charline: Yes, I am planning to write a sequel to The Curse of Nefertiti. Originally, I didn’t plan to. However, the last nine paragraphs of the book came to me after I thought I had finished writing the book and the myth within that last story along with Kayla’s final words left the door wide open for a sequel.
Clara: Well, Charline, thank you so much for sitting down with me. For those of you out there whose curiosities were piqued by the review or interview, you can buy the book here or take a look at Charline's website!