Thursday, February 14, 2013

Nefertiti's Heart - February Book Feature

Cara Devon has always suffered curiosity and impetuousness, but
tangling with a serial killer might cure that. Permanently.

London, 1861. Impoverished noble Cara has a simple mission after the
strange death of her father - sell off his damned collection of
priceless artifacts. Her plan goes awry when aristocratic beauties
start dying of broken hearts, an eight inch long brass key hammered
through their chests. A killer hunts amongst the nobility, searching
for a regal beauty and an ancient Egyptian relic rumored to hold the
key to immortality.

Her Majesty’s Enforcers are in pursuit of the murderer and they see a
connection between the gruesome deaths and Cara. So does she,
somewhere in London her father hid Nefertiti’s Heart, a fist sized
diamond with strange mechanical workings. Adding further complication
to her life, notorious crime lord, Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is
relentless in his desire to lay his hands on Cara and the priceless
artifact. If only she could figure out his motive.

Self-preservation fuels Cara's search for the gem. In a society where
everyone wears a mask to hide their true intent, she needs to figure
out who to trust, before she makes a fatal mistake.

I am a writer living in rural New Zealand, surrounded by horses and homicidal chickens.

I am a bona fide corset wearing, sidesaddle riding freak. Which probably explains my fascination for historical novels :)

I love to blend steampunk adventures with an Egyptian twist and turn up the heat. My debut novel NEFERTITI'S HEART will be published by Curiosity Quills in 2013.


Thanks for taking the time to hang out with us today, Anita! Can you tell us and the viewers at home a little bit about yourself?

I live in rural New Zealand, home is a small block of land with horses, a mad boxer, cats and homicidal chickens. I ride sidesaddle, wear corsets, the zombie apocalypse is a regular dinner topic and I spend large parts of my day creating new ways to freak out my children :)

You said you’re a repressed Egyptologist. What is it about Egypt that fascinates you so much?

I honestly don't know! Maybe it's all that history wrapped up in mystery, like *how* did they build the pyramid of Giza and why? The objects unearthed are so haunting and beautiful and my mind loved tackling hieroglyphics.

Your book is called Nefertiti’s Heart. Can you tell those of us who don’t know a lot about Egypt who Nefertiti was?
Nefertiti was the queen of Akhenaten, who was Pharaoh of Egypt around 1350 BC. They are a really interesting couple, as Akhenaten preached there was only one god, the Aten, which was quite a heretical belief at the time. The bust of Nefertiti held in the Berlin museum is probably one of the most famous images of ancient Egypt, along with King Tut's death mask.

You’ve described Nefertiti’s Heart as “steampunk lite.” What can readers expect from your novel?
If you like hardcore steampunk, with everyone running around wearing goggles and shooting Tesla weapons this probably isn't the book for you.I would call it more of a gentle twist to Victorian England, rather than a radical shake down. My gadgets have to earn their place, and my mind has to understand how they work. They are there, but they are more backdrop to the story, rather than a story element in themselves. And my book still has airships! Cause, really, who can resist a rakish airship pirate? ;)

(Good question. Cause I can't.)

Can you tell us a little bit about your heroine, Cara? She sounds awesome.

Cara was written off by high society as "damaged goods" after something that happened when she was 14 yrs old. The situation was never her fault, but she is deemed tainted by it anyway, which releases her from the strict controls which other young noble girls had to live under. She roams the world, learning to fight, vowing she will never be vulnerable again. She returns to London after her father dies, wearing her trusty Smith & Wesson pistols, but discovers she never learned how to protect her heart.
What inspired you to write Nefertiti’s Heart?
I wrote a YA steampunk story and my friends complained it wasn't dark & twisted enough. I'm not sure what that says about me...? lol So that got me thinking. On my library shelf, the Egyptology books sit on a shelf next to all the forensic science books. That led me to thinking about a serial killer, searching for his Nefertiti among the debutantes of Victorian London, and from that point, the story took on a life of its own. It's still not as dark as I can go, but I'm working on that.

What would you do if you lived in the world you created?

I'd live in the coffee shop I created. The idea of being surrounded by fresh brewed coffee, warm croissants and playing backgammon all day sounds appealing. Either that or I would be the eccentric scientist shut in the basement, playing with electricity to reanimate dogs run over by the steam powered carriages above ground. Or maybe I could do both, and look for road kill to experiment with, on my way back from the bakery....

Do you have an all-time favorite steampunk or Egypt-related story? What is it and why do you love it so much?
Can I have both? I love Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, her heroine really knows how to deliver the biting one liner.
And for fictionalised Egypt, I devour anything by Christian Jacq - he sends you back there in such vivid and visceral detail.

Did any of your research surprise you? Were you able to incorporate that into your book?
I discovered the first luminescent light bulb was invented in 1835, which really excited me. And in the 1840s a French noble rigged up his entire estate with electric lights. I wanted to use electricity, but my time period is way too early for any inventions of Tesla. Finding out a Scottish inventor created the light bulb so early allowed me to develop my own way to have electric lighting, and a grumpy house that likes to send the surplus charge back through the switches. It allowed me to show the division in society in another way. The wealthy can afford electric lights and battery charged carriages, while the lower classes have to stick to noisy and noxious steam power.

What other projects are you working on now?
A sequel - called Hatshepshut's Collar. Hatshepsut was a queen who took control and became pharaoh, right down to wearing the ceremonial beard. My premise is her lust for power became embedded in a necklace. Alexander the Great and Genghis Kahn both succumbed to the lure of the necklace and rampaged across the continents. Then it is gifted to Queen Victoria, and it sends her spiraling into a world domination madness. And that's not the worse of Cara's problems that she needs to sort!

I am also kicking around a prequel idea, based on Inspector Fraser's case with the killer called The Grinder. I allude to it in Nefertiti's Heart. The Grinder is the reason Fraser can never eat a sausage from a street vendor again....

Anubis vs. Hades. Who wins?
Oh tough question! The underworld smack down... I'm going to have to go Team Anubis, cause he would have more bite... lol
 Thanks for joining us, A.W. This was a fun interview, and I am SUPER-STOKED to get my hands on Nefertiti's Heart!