MEET FIONA INGRAM
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and educated in South Africa. I come from a background of theater studies and journalism. My studies and love of travel have combined because after university I spent a year in London at drama school and a year in Paris studying mime. After a few years working in grassroots and community-based theater, I began to write more and gradually moved into journalism. Becoming a children’s author happened by accident after I went on a family trip to Egypt with my mother and two young nephews. My interest in ancient history, mysteries and legends, combined with my love of travel, has resulted in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first volume of my children’s adventure series, Chronicles of the Stone.
2. Describe your desk/workspace.
I am so lucky to have a huge office with an outside patio and balcony for fresh air when I need to blow away the cobwebs. My office space is big enough for lots of bookshelves, which groan under the weight of (mostly) non-fiction research books and my music CDs. Another bookshelf holds all my classics, books I dip into regularly for relaxation. Cleopatra the Cockatoo has her cage right nearby so she can entertain me with her antics (the most recent toy being an old toothbrush affording her hours of pleasure as she brushes her beak); my two small dogs Chloe (a Jack Russell) and Pumpkin (a Pavement Special) have their ‘office baskets’ near my feet. Jasper the German Shepherd lies as close as he can to the hub of creativity that is me! My desk has the usual assortment of writing pads, penholders, coffee cups, and bits and pieces that I am sure could be put into drawers.
3. Do you have a favorite quote?
“Why worry – it probably will never happen.’ I tend to worry about things that never happen!
4. What are you currently reading?
Heroes: a History of Hero Worship by Lucy Hughes-Hallett. Although non-fiction, it reads like fiction with glorious descriptions of heroes, their motives and their machinations, from Achilles to Garibaldi and why society has to have heroes to worship.
5. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
‘Run your own race. Don’t look to the left or right to see what everyone else is doing. Look ahead and pick up your feet!’ My beloved mother, whose wonderful support has made it all happen.
6. If you could have coffee with anyone (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?
Shakespeare. Then I could ask him if he really did write his own plays. I could also ask him for a few tips of dramatic suspense!
7. What are your top three favorite books and why?
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien – the best fantasy series ever written.
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins – the first true detective novel ever written and the forerunner of the British detective novel.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – I never tire of her sparkling wit and snappy dialogue; also her deep understanding of the human psyche.
8. What was your favorite book as a child and why?
I think I should make that books! My parents were really poor while the five (yes five!) of us were growing up, so we read what was on the bookshelves. My mother and father both love reading and Mom had kept all her children’s classics. We cut our teeth on (apart from Time Life encyclopedias and Greek Myths & Legends for Children) Rudyard Kipling’s Kim and Jungle Book, The Wind in the Willows, as many Brothers Grimm and other fairy story books as we could devour, all the Enid Blytons, The Water Babies, Treasure Island, Little Women, Little Men, Paul Gallico, the Anne of Green Gables books, all the Lucy Fitch Perkins Twins books (an amazing mixture of story, geography, history and drama), Narnia books … the list is endless. I still have many of my childhood books.
9. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Given my background in the theater, and because I love the theater and films, I think it has helped me picture the development of the plot ‘scene by scene.’ I want to create the exact atmosphere my young heroes experience—such as being trapped in the abandoned tomb with the giant cobra. The reader should feel each thrilling moment; see the drops of poison on the cobra’s fangs… Theater is an intense visual feast, and of course the audience has to use their imagination. I really hope the books become films because the environments will lend themselves to amazing visuals. I have just signed a movie option with a British movie company so my dreams might become reality soon. Many readers have commented that reading my book is like seeing a movie in their heads.
10. Do you write full-time or part-time?
I take care of my disabled mother so I fit my writing in around her needs.
11. What are your current marketing strategies for The Secret of the Sacred Scarab?
I have done a huge amount of marketing for my first book The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, including a blog tour in 2009, entering book contests and getting book reviews. I have established a solid base for reader familiarity with the book as the opening story to my book series The Chronicles of the Stone. I have a Facebook Fan Page, a wonderful interactive website crammed with fun and educational elements, and I still enter book awards when the publication date permits. My book has garnered several nominations and wins. I also blog and try to write articles around literacy for kids. Google Books allows interested potential buyers to browse a few pages, as does the Amazon site. All purchase sites are on the main book site http://www.secretofthesacredscarab.com.
12. Could you share about any current writing projects?
I have finished Book Two in the series. It takes my young heroes Adam and Justin into the world of the Dark Ages and King Arthur with The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. There are lots of exciting elements such as a 13th century monk, an old Scottish castle, and an ancient manuscript written in a strange language, hidden secrets, and some very dangerous baddies! I am busy with the editing as we speak.
13. What would be the best way for readers to contact you?
Please visit my website and find out more about my book series, my book awards, and my movie option. http://www.FionaIngram.com
14. Where can people find your book The Secret of the Sacred Scarab?
Please visit the book website www.secretofthesacredscarab.com.
15. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
There is one thing I want readers to learn/take away from this work. Underneath all the excitement, the lesson for young readers is to believe in yourself and know that you can make a difference and achieve what you want. The two boys find their roles are different, but in a way equally important. Adam is singled out for a huge task, yet his cousin Justin is necessary to make sure Adam survives the ordeal. Courage and compassion are also highlighted as the boys grapple with moral decisions when they are faced with life-and-death situations.
Thank you so much for being on my blog today. It was such a pleasure to have you here.
Please follow Fiona Ingram’s World of Ink Tour tomorrow at http://worldofinknetwork.blogspot.com.