Interview with Alisha Sevigny re: THE DESERT PRINCE

Hi Alisha, and thank you so much for joining me at MG Book Village today. What a crazy year this has been for debuting a new series, so let’s tell our readers a little bit about Secrets of the Sands. The first book, THE LOST SCROLL OF THE PHYSICIAN, came out in January, and the sequel, THE DESERT PRINCE, comes out on September 19th. Can you tell us a bit more about the series, please?

The series centers around the adventures of a young scribe and healer named Sesha, her brother Ky, and her friends. In the first book, Sesha searches for a mysterious scroll her father was transcribing for the Pharaoh before his death. The Pharaoh needs the medical document to reduce the casualties of potential war with the rival Hyksos from the North and Sesha wants it because she believes there is a procedure in it that can save her brother’s life. The scroll in the book is based on a real-life artifact called The Edwin Smith Papyrus. The second book follows Sesha – who must leave her brother behind in Thebes – and her friends into the desert, in search of a hidden oasis. There, she ends up training as a spy, and learns that the very same scroll is at the center of a prophecy, which has far-reaching implications for the kingdoms and her world.

Ancient Egypt is such fascinating topic to so many kids. What is it about this time period that you think is such a draw, and what compelled you to write about it?

I think it’s such a fascinating period because of all the incredible things the Egyptians did and accomplished, so many thousands of years ago – many of which we can still see today! I’ve always loved the era and was compelled to write this story, particularly when I learned about the real papyrus and the time it is believed to have been written in: the Second Intermediate Period. It was long thought that Egypt fell into “disarray,” during this era, its power diminished as it was ruled by the Hyksos, “Rulers of Foreign Lands.” The Hyksos were originally thought to be invaders that took the land by force, when in reality, it’s been shown through recent excavations these people settled in the land over time and slowly gained prominence through marriage, trade and immigration. This whole series centers around the Hyksos enigma and is this author’s imagining of how things might have been back then, during this mysterious pocket of time which eventually led into the New Kingdom, Egypt’s most prosperous and well-known period (which in part, the Egyptians have the Hyksos to thank for!).

How much research goes into writing a historical fiction series like this one.

Several pyramids worth! (Sorry, couldn’t resist ;). Happily, I am an avid fan of Ancient Egypt and ancient civilizations in general, so I enjoy it, but it can be challenging at times, because compared to more recent past, there’s very little material to go on. I read a lot of academic papers and am always fact-checking as best I can, but research is one of those things that is in flux, as the more we discover, the greater chance our theories and assumptions might change. Overall, it’s worth it because I feel like these details make the story so much richer and the setting becomes a character in itself, which is an important aspect of my YA novels as well. One example of my nit-picky fact-checking is that I fully expected there would be camels in THE DESERT PRINCE, but it turns out (at that time) donkeys were more commonly used in caravan treks and so we have Nefer, the donkey instead of Nefer, the camel. 

Can you share with us three things about your upcoming book that you think will appeal to young readers?

Sesha and her friends free a Hyksos spy so he can help them escape into the desert and embark on a harrowing trek in search of a hidden oasis. There, she convinces the Hyksos to train her as a spy. Third, she finds out about an earth-shattering prophecy that could change the course of history, which also has enormous implications for her personally. So there’s plenty of non-stop action, intrigue and kick-butt characters! (That might be more than three 😉 

Our friend, Paul Coccia, created a wonderful video for your book. Let’s share it with everyone now.

What part of the writing process do you most enjoy? Is it the research, drafting, editing, or something else?

Each aspect of the writing process has its charms and frustrations. I definitely enjoy the research and the writing, but the editing is where I fine-tune each word so that the whole manuscript sings (hopefully) as one song. Definitely the most challenging part is after the book is written: the marketing and publicity, and trying to make your voice heard amongst all the other equally amazing voices out there. I have faith that this series will find its audience though, because there’s something in it for everyone! And come on, Ancient Egypt!

Are you working on another book at the moment?

I’m working on writing the third installment in the series, THE ORACLE OF AVARIS, which sees Sesha and her friends arriving in the capital city of the Hyksos. There, they try to find a mysterious oracle, learn more about the aforementioned earth-shaking prophecies, and try to save the land from all-out war. 

Where can our readers go to find out more about you and your writing?

I love hearing from readers on Social Media, such as Instagram and Facebook, and also have my author website at alishasevigny.com. 

Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Alisha, and best of luck with your book’s release. I certainly look forward to reading it.

Thank you so much Kathie, it’s been a pleasure and I hope you and your readers enjoy the series!

Alisha Sevigny is the author of the SECRETS OF THE SANDS adventure series. featuring THE LOST SCROLL OF THE PHYSICIAN and THE DESERT PRINCE. She also has two published Young Adult novels, KISSING FROGS, an eco-retelling of The Frog Prince fairy-tale, and SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS, a CCBCs Best Book for Kids and Teens pick and NERFA 2019 finalist for North America. Originally from Kitimat, BC in the Pacific Northwest, she makes her home in Toronto with her family. 

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