24 July 2012

Confessions of a Blogger!

Recently I was on Twitter and I came across a hash tag that was labelled #100confessions or something similar.  It got me thinking that it was probably about time that I revealed some more facts about myself.  After all, it was 5 years ago in my first ever blog, when I was very much a virgin blogger that I did this previously.  5 years is a long time in the blogosphere and indeed in our own lives.  So I have decided it's time for the world to learn more about me - when the non x rated stuff at least!

So if you are ready, here we go!

  • I once did a hole in one on a golf course.  Now I should say that I honestly find golf very boring and extremely tedious.  I am not sure why a number of business meetings are done "on a golf course".  I would much rather prefer watching a sport or even discussing things over a meal.  The hole in one occurred at the local golf course where I grew up in the old country - England.
  • I am a qualified commercial barista but have never ever worked in a cafe.  Yes it is true.  I know how to make proper coffee.  Well I used to, but unless you keep your skills honed you soon forget how to do some of the more trickier coffees.  Why did I become a qualified barista? Well I was never going to become a barrister was I?  Seriously, I wanted to learn more about making different coffees and thought a commercial coffee making course was the way to go.  Yes, I do have a barista certificate!
  • I am a qualified Justice of the Peace.  In the olden days people used to call me a Justice of the Piss - but that's another story.  I am registered as a JP in NSW in Australia.  So what this means is that I am authorised to witness signatures on documents of varying descriptions.  In some circumstances I can issue arrest warrants and preside over really minor infringements.  However, living in a big city this will never happen. 
  • I once top scored at cricket with 4 runs.  It was an inter-class school game and I was nominated to open the innings.  My first scoring shot was an edge through the slips for 2.  I was the 7th player out for the princely score of 4! In truth the extras totalled 7 runs, but that doesn't count, does it?  In reply our opponents scored 24 runs for the loss of 1 wicket.  I can proudly say that it was moi that run out one of their opening batsmen!
  • During my largely unsuccessful football career in England, I was transferred between two teams mid-season.  The transfer fee was a fixed  £2.50! Not quite the multi-million pound transfers of the English Premier League.  Naturally, I didn't make a penny out of the transfer fee! I did, however, turn out to be a good purchase as I scored 9 goals in my first 22 games.
  • While we are talking, well writing, about football, I can claim to have scored a goal direct from a corner! It was while playing for a local team in Sydney a few years ago.  It was something I always wanted to do, ever since I saw my best friend do it twice in two minutes in a school game many moons ago.  Finally, I achieved it myself.  As the ball was drifting over the goalkeeper's head, I remember thinking to myself "don't catch the bloody thing!".  Thankfully he didn't!
  • A long time ago a piece of the hallowed turf of Wembley Stadium found its way into my pocket and later was planted in my parents backyard.  How did it get there? I have no idea hehehehe.  I remember the event was a summer outdoor concert at the old Wembley Stadium. Can't quite remember who was headlining but I am fairly certain it was Elton John. 
Well there you have it.  A few facts about me that you would not be aware of.  I would love to hear about some of yours.  So please feel free to leave a comment or three!

06 July 2012

Interview with Author Amira Aly

Amira Aly is one of the nicest people you can ever come across. Not only is she now a good friend of mine, she is also an up and coming author.  A few months ago she completed the second part of her fantasy thriller series.

Having read both books, I can assure you, dear reader, that they are certainly worth checking out!  Recently, I managed to catch some spare time with Amira for the following interview:

Did you approach writing the second book in a different manner to the first one?

There was less of a structure and more of a natural “flow” to the writing process, especially since I did not have to stop and dig into research as much as I did writing book 1 of the series.

I’m guessing from your storylines that you are a big fan of history and fantasy.  How much research did you do when structuring your writing for this book?

I am a pretty big fan of fantasy and science fiction, and I find reading history as useful as it is fascinating. But when writing Egypt: Rise of the Resistance I just relied on my background research prior to writing the series.

Aya, the main character, is certainly a typical female teenager – stubborn, jealous, feisty, boy liking as well as a potential world saviour.  In all honesty, is this a description of the young Amira (sans the world saving part)?

I can only wish. I was a very bookish gal when I was Aya’s age.  No boys. No stubbornness. Just books, books, and more books.

The book reminds me of being on a breathless rollercoaster ride.  One where you cannot get off it until the end.  Did you deliberately write in this vein, or was it an organic development?

It’s the nature of the second instalment. Stakes are higher. Friends and enemies re-align themselves, and the final battle draws nearer.

The clues in the book seem to lead Aya onto further adventures.  For example, the brain waves and music algorithms.  How did this scenario come into being, was it after too many strong coffees?

I’ve been actually cutting back on coffee! These sci fi elements were actually there all along. I hinted at them in book 1 and I will revisit them again.

All through my medical studies, the human brain has always fascinated me. I wanted to explore it more, even if in fiction. Cognitive neuroscience sci fic is something I always wanted to write about.

I loved the part where Kemisi came into the story.  All the time I was thinking “what will Aya do now?”  How much of that part of the story is based on actual historical happenings?

None, in fact. Little is known about the pre-historic (also called pre-dynastic) ancient Egypt. The prehistoric ancient Egypt I draw upon is my own version alternate mythology. It’s a magical world where myth meets science and culture.

Parallel to book three of the series, I am currently writing a book set in that time period telling the story of Kemisi.

Ben-ben, the Bennu bird, makes a welcome return, thankfully.  Have you considered a line of Ben-ben toys yet? 

Ben-ben merchandise? I like it! This sure would bring ancient Egypt back in style! 

The ending, like all good books, leaves the reading craving for more.  How much was the ending based on the current goings on in Egypt?  I also got the sense of a parallel situation to Hitler and the rise of fascism. Is this a merely a coincidence or deliberate?

I wrote the ending as soon as I finished the first book actually, before the political situation in Egypt turned sour. I remember my husband’s reaction when I had told my husband of how I planned to end the first book. He felt I would be somehow “marring” our revolution with my grim alternate history. Little did we know, the history I am drawing on did not turn to be alternate at all!  We are watching something similar unfold in Egypt, I am afraid.

Will Aya ever be good friends with the ditsy Celeste? More importantly, will she and Nour ever become an item?

My lips are sealed * zip * I would like, however, to hear what you think, Derek. Do you think they’ve got what it takes to be bound together? Yes

Amira, when can we expect the third book of the Battle for Ma ‘at: Egypt – The Resistance?

Before the next holiday season, probably around mid-November.

Aside from writing, what else have you been up to?

I am trying to get more “ground” work and community service done. I had two projects planned for 2012. One of them has already been launched. It’s a website training Arabic-speakers looking to find decent work from home jobs.

The other is a super-secret project where I will be using my medical and public health training for the good of the people.

Thank you for your time, Amira.  I, for one, cannot wait until the third part of the series is out!