ANUBIS SPEAKS by Vicky Alvear Shecter - GIVEAWAY!

My favorite thing about blogging is when I can use my platform to celebrate my friend's successes and big news. Such is the case today. Vicky Alvear Shecter has just released another tome to take us into ancient Egypt/Greece/Rome with ANUBIS SPEAKS! (Boyds Mills Press, illustrated by Antoine Revoir, mid-grade, ages 9-12.)
     Ever wonder about that jackal-headed god and his role in Egyptian mythology? Follow his snarky self into the underworld after the sun goes down...
     Vicky stopped by to talk about her latest book...

Q. Of all the Egyptian gods, why did you choose to feature Anubis?
A. Anubis seemed the perfect god to talk about death practices in ancient Egypt. After all, he was the god of embalming. I’ve always been fascinated by the jackal-headed god of the dead so I really couldn’t picture anyone else talking about the Egyptians. He just seemed to have a lot of personality to me, so he seemed perfect.

Q. You gave him such a fun, snarky voice, which young readers will adore. Is that hard to channel?
A. When I write middle-grade, “fun and snarky” seems to be my default voice. It’s very different from my “young adult” voice, which is much more serious. I call this my “internal 11-year-old-boy” voice—the one that loves to laugh and is delighted by gross and wacky details.

Q. Do you think your heart will weigh less than a feather when it's your turn? (And can you explain what that means?)
A. Ohhhhh, good question! In the book, Anubis explains the weighing of the heart test – a ceremony the ancient Egyptians believed happened to everyone after death. Your heart was weighed against ma’at, the Feather of Truth, which represented order and goodness. Anubis weighed the heart on a scale and if you lived by ma’at and were good, the heart would weigh less than the Feather of Truth. If your heart was heavy with evil-doing, it would weigh more than ma’at, which was bad news. In that case, Anubis tossed your evil, black heart to a crocodile-headed monster who ate it up, forever banishing you from eternal life.
     As for me, I hope my heart would be light enough to pass the test! But only Anubis could say, right? ;-)

Q. You're a docent at the Carlos Museum in Atlanta, so you're passionate about all things Egyptian, Roman, and Greek. How did this passion begin?
A. I have always loved everything about the ancient world. As a kid, I dreamed of being an archaeologist. There was always such a strong pull for me toward ancient civilizations—their sense of “otherness” yet “sameness” was endlessly intriguing. I guess we love what we love!

Q. How did you start writing about it all? (I know the story, but my readers don't!)
A. Years ago, when Oliver Stone was making a movie on Alexander the Great (called “Alexander”—don’t bother to watch it, it’s terrible), my brother got a contract to write a funny, bawdy book about Alexander as a gay icon. I ended up doing a great deal of the factual research for the book and helped my brother write it. But during the research process, I started sharing stories with my kids about some of the wild and fascinating things Alexander did while conquering the world. They enjoyed the adventure stories, so I decided to write a kid’s book about them!

Q. You cover age ranges with Chapter Books to Young Adult - from light-hearted accountings to epic adventures. (CLEOPATRA'S MOON was Vicky's first YA novel.) How do those genres challenge you?
A. I guess the better question is how do they NOT challenge me. For the mid-grade audience, the challenge is to relay factual, historical information in a way that captures and sustains the younger reader’s attention. For YA, the challenge is keeping the story emotionally relevant to the modern teen reader.
     On my YA manuscript, occasionally, I got little notes from my editor that would say, “this section on what gladiators ate, (for example) while fascinating, is slowing down the action, so I recommend we cut it.” It’s very easy to get caught up in the minutiae of fascinating historical detail, but you have to be ruthless in cutting it out if it’s distracting from the story itself. Thank the gods editors are there to help us along with these things!

Q. I know you have a new YA coming out soon too - can you share a little about it?
A. Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii tells the story of two teens who fall in love—Tag, a medical slave in a gladiatorial school, and Lucia, the daughter of the school’s owner. It’s the story of their struggles to fight the limitations society placed on them during the weeks leading up to the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius. Then it becomes the story of their desperate struggle to escape in the hours before the mountain destroys the city. It comes out in June and is published by Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic and was edited by Cheryl Klein.

Q. Any last words of advice for budding writers? Maybe from Anubis himself?
A. Forget about writing what you know—write about what you love! Channel your passion into your writing. As far as advice from Anubis goes, I imagine he would just have one piece of advice for writers….
      JUST DO IT!
      After all, you wouldn’t want your heart to get too heavy with regret and recriminations. Also, keep in mind that it is never too late. My first mid-grade book got published when I was forty-five and my first novel came out when I was fifty! So Anubis says, “keep going for it!”

Q. Thanks Vicky!!!

Vicky has kindly agreed to send a free, signed/dedicated copy of ANUBIS SPEAKS to one of my lucky commenters. (Must live in the continental US to win.) Enter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Rhonda Miller said...

I love reading about ancient Egyptian life lately and would love to read this book about Anubis. I would share it with my husband and kids.

Geo Librarian said...

I'd love to share this book with my students. Mythology is very fascinating to them and to me.