Thursday, October 21, 2010

Author who movie-storyboards key scenes before writing his Egypt-based mystery adventure thrillers...

How I visualized the opening to The Smiting Texts Egypt adventure novel.

What comes first - the book or the movie?

As a Creative Director in advertising, I've learnt to think visually. As a result, I like to do a book storyboard using Googled photos - like this opening scene from The Smiting Texts. As the storyboard shows, I visualized a Hugh Laurie type as my witty British rogue Egyptologist Anson Hunter.

I did the same with the next books in the Egypt adventure series: "The Hathor Holocaust" "The Ibis Apocalypse" and the rest in the series.

This approach helps to achieve a heightened sense of reality - as important for the author in writing as it is to the reader living the story.

I've almost shot the movie BEFORE I've written the book.


e Ibis Apocalypse. The trilogy is now a series...

Monday, October 11, 2010


The African Kingdom even toppled the might of Egypt.
Photo from a research trip to Nubia.

Not long ago I was lucky to attend a lecture by visiting German Professor Wildung on the Rediscovery of Ancient Sudan. It raised the question for me: why aren’t the so-called Afrocentrists content to claim the dazzling rival civilization to Egypt, Nubia/Sudan?

Here, my renegade fiction hero Anson Hunter touches on the controversial issue in a scene ('The Hathor Holocaust').

Chapter 11
Gebel Barkal, Nubia

ANSON SAT next to the driver, thrown around in the cabin of the Land Cruiser, as they approached an isolated butte rising in the shimmer of the desert.

Here the great Nubian kingdom of Napata once flourished at a place where the River Nile, slithering like a snake on a scorched belly across the largest desert on earth, loses its way. Stunned by the smoking heat of the Nubian sun, it twists back on itself, flowing in the wrong direction for 270 kilometres - back towards the heart of Africa, before winding its way into Egypt.

And here, too, the design of pyramids changes direction. Unlike those of Egypt, they were smaller, clustered together and tapered, with steep-sides inclined at seventy degrees, as if stretched in a heat haze, or as if viewed through the eyes of a Modigliani.

“That’s the holy mountain of Gebel Barkal over there, near the town of Karima, where we’ll camp. It marks the most important religious complex in Nubia and the second most important to the Egyptians,” he said for the benefit of Gemma. “It was the southern home of the God Amun-re.” He pointed into the haze. “The Royal Necropolis of the ancient city of Napata, the Nubian capital before the Meroitic period, lies over there to the north. There are also large pyramid fields at El Kurru, a few kilometres southwards from the mountain, and at Nuri, on the other side of the Nile.”

Gemma, in the back seat, commented:

“I suppose with such an influential neighbour as Egypt, Nubia was bound to become a mirror society instead of a stand-alone civilisation.”

The Nubian driver growled.

“Let me tell you something. Nubia not only stood alone. One of our great Nubian kings, Taharka, formed an alliance with ancient Israel and defended Jerusalem from a siege by the Assyrians, driving them away. He is even mentioned by name in the Old Testament.”

The driver was no mere driver. The shiny headed man, as dark as the image of a shade in an Egyptian tomb, was a former inspector of Nubian antiquities. Ali had a degree in Egyptology and was now a specialist tour operator and something of a renegade as well as a friend of Anson’s.

Anson added: “The Nubian Taharka may have done more than save Israel’s bacon. He may have rescued the entire Jewish culture and religion. The Assyrians under Sennacherib were intent on destroying Jerusalem and deporting its people. Consider this. The Old Testament had yet to be written and they were still wrestling with the concept of Yawveh. Where would the Abrahamic faiths Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - be, if the Nubians hadn’t stood by Jerusalem? It was a turning point for the Western world and the Middle East.”

“I’m no Afrocentrocist, by the way,” Ali said, softening. “I’m not claiming that Egypt was a black civilisation. It wasn’t, although there certainly were black elements and black pharaohs. No, we have our own civilisation to be proud of.”

“Indeed the Nubians had a long and intricate relationship with Egypt,” Anson said, smiling. “From New Kingdom times they were admired for their loyalty and honesty and hired as the police force of Egypt and also as mercenaries because of their prowess with the bow. The Egyptians felt they could rely on the Nubians - right up to the point where they invaded and took over the country in the eighth century BC. These guys did a reverse takeover and ruled Egypt for almost a hundred years! They became the pharaohs of the twenty-fifth dynasty, with their capital at Gebel Barkal.”

Ali laughed.

“And Anson trusts me!”