Tell us about your latest historical fiction for children.
The Eyes of Pharaoh, 1177 BC: During the reign of Pharaoh Ramses the Third, Seshta, a 13-year-old dancer in the Temple of Hathor, dreams of becoming a famous entertainer. Horus, the brother of her heart, is content as a toymaker’s apprentice. Reya, at 16, has joined Egypt’s army with hopes of becoming a hero. Despite their different paths, nothing can break the bonds of their friendship.
When Reya hints that Egypt is in danger from foreign nomads, Seshta and Horus don’t take him seriously. How could anyone challenge Egypt?
Then Reya disappears. Seshta and Horus set out to find him—and discover a darker plot than they ever imagined. To save their friend, Seshta and Horus spy on merchants, soldiers, and royalty, and start to suspect even The Eyes of Pharaoh, the powerful head of the secret police. Will Seshta and Horus escape the traps set for them, rescue Reya, and stop the plot against Egypt in time?
Set in ancient Egypt, the ideas in this book echo in the international politics of today, while the power of friendship will touch hearts both young and old. Suitable for ages 9 and up.
What kind of research did you do for The Eyes of Pharaoh?
I’ve been fascinated by ancient Egypt since I was a kid. Plus, I grew up in Saudi Arabia, so I have some familiarity with the Middle East, and my family visited Egypt when I was in my 20s. I have at least a dozen books on ancient Egypt on my bookshelf, including several of the Time-Life books about how people lived, with lots of pictures. I also did a lot of library and museum research. The Eyes of Pharaoh is the kind of book I would have wanted to read when I was in fourth or fifth grade.
What is the most surprising thing you learned from your research?
One thing that intrigues me about history is how some of the lessons of the past resonate today. My first novel, The Well of Sacrifice, is an adventure/drama set in 9th-century Mayan times. I explored some of the reasons the Mayan civilization collapsed, such as environmental degradation and too much money flowing to the government and away from the people.
For The Eyes of Pharaoh, I touched on issues such as illegal immigration and the dangers of a country thinking it’s the best and most powerful country in the world, and therefore untouchable. It’s disturbing how some of these themes still affect us. Sometimes I wonder if we’ll ever learn from the mistakes of the past, but I hope my books will get people thinking a little harder about these issues.
What is your writing process like?
Over the years I’ve gotten better at using outlines. Now I prefer to start with them, as it saves me a lot of time and frustration during the writing process. I figure a strong outline is the equivalent of two drafts. I use the analytical process I developed and included in my book Advanced Plotting to make sure the outline has all the elements needed for a strong novel, including good pacing.
That means I’ll spend several weeks brainstorming before I start writing, and I’ll also do most of my research in advance (although there are always little things to check along the way). Once I start writing, I generally write 1500 – 2500 words each day, about a chapter. Then I take a few weeks for editing, and maybe a break between books to catch up on other things.
How did you choose your genre?
Writing middle grade novels seemed like a natural fit to me. I read an enormous amount as a kid, and I still enjoy reading children’s books. It fits my style, partly natural and partly based on journalism training, with a focus on simple, clear language and plenty of action and dialogue to keep the pages turning. Plus, I love ancient history!
I’ve written contemporary novels for kids as well, such as my Haunted series about a brother and sister who travel with the ghost hunter TV show. That has a historical angle, too, because the ghosts are from different points in history. I’m now publishing the fourth Haunted book, The Ghost Miner’s Treasure. The first three books were published by Aladdin, but they dropped the series after my editor left. I’m excited that with self-publishing I can release The Ghost Miner’s Treasure on my own – and one early young reader said she thinks it’s the best yet!
A couple of years ago, I was starting to feel restless and wanted a change. I realized I had mostly been reading adult romantic suspense novels. I decided to try one, and now I’m publishing my third, under the name Kris Bock. I also write articles about writing, teach writing through a correspondence school, lead workshops, and offer private critique services. I expect my future will hold a combination of writing for children and for adults, plus teaching and editing.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Take classes and get professional feedback. Most people try to submit their work long before they’re writing at a professional level. You’ll save yourself frustration if you focus on learning to write better for a few years before you worry about the submission process.
Where can readers find your books?
Readers can learn about my books and order them on my Amazon page. They can also read excerpts of my children’s books at www.chriseboch.com, learn about my romantic suspense novels at www.krisbock.com, or get writing tips and excerpts from Advanced Plotting on my blog.
Chris Eboch’s book Advanced Plotting helps writers fine-tune their plots and is available in print or e-book on Amazon or B&N. Learn about Chris’s children’s books at www.chriseboch.com or visit her Amazon page or B&N page.
Check out her writing tips at her Write Like a Pro! blog. Chris also writes romantic suspense for adults under the name Kris Bock. Visit her website or see Kris Bock’s books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords.
Connect with Chris on Facebook, Kris Bock Author Page, and on Twitter.
Chris Eboch’s profile photo by Sonia Sones.
17 responses to “Kids’ Week Kick-off – An Interview with Chris Eboch”
Thanks for hosting me here today, Karen. A pleasure, as always!
You make the research sound like fun. And as long as the kids are reading, better they should read something substantive.
I loved getting this glimpse into the process of writing a novel like this, Chris. I’ve never tried writing fiction, but I admire those who do.
Karen, as always, you bring us such interesting people!
Fiction and nonfiction have their separate challenges. I wouldn’t say one is easier than the other, though maybe it’s easier to focus on one!
Thanks for sharing your work. I loved this line: I figure a strong outline is the equivalent of two drafts.Best of luck with your latest book.
I have long been a pantster. But with all the talk about outlines, I’m considering it, re-evaluating the process.
Thanks for sharing your writing process Chris! I’ll have to add your books to my “end of summer reading list!”
Thanks, Stacy and Jessica, for stopping by. Karen, some people find they just can’t use outlines – it interferes with the creative process. But when I teach novel writing through the Institute of Children’s Literature, I “force” people to start with an outline, and they do usually find the process helpful, even if the final draft changes a lot. It’s worth a try!
I always fight against the outline, and I wonder now if that is why I have to re-write so significantly. I figured it was because I was so picky! I make a promise to you – the next short story I start, I’ll at least TRY to use an outline. 🙂
Great! Let me know how it works. But keep in mind that like any other tool, it takes time to learn how to us outlines well and to get comfortable with them. It may take several attempts before you find the method that works best for you.
How fortunate that you grew up in Egypt, Chris! The Well of Sacrifice sounds good.
Too bad all of us can’t get a first-hand experience in exotic (to me) locations for our stories. I have to settle for the U.S., but I have been to a lot of states.
Parts of the US can be pretty exotic! I was lucky to grow up in Saudi Arabia and get to travel a lot while young. But it’s easier than ever to travel – if not in person, at least through books, movies, and online. I read that one of the reasons novels are faster paced today is that they no longer have to spend so much time bringing the reader into the story world, because we’ve been exposed to so much more through other media. In other words, Mary Stewart spent a lot of time describing France or the Greek Isles in some of her books from the 40s and 50s, but now readers are much more familiar with those places.
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I agree that parts of the U.S. can be exotic, amazing, beautiful! I have been all up and down the east coast – Maine to Florida, throughout a bunch of the middle states, a few places in CA, all over Texas, AZ, NM, UT, NV, CO, and now – because of my move from NM to ND – a lot of the states in between. My biggest U.S. wish is the NW, Oregon and Washington, and Alaska!
If you get to the Pacific Northwest Karen let me know. Perhaps we could meet for a coffee. Vancouver is 2 hours from Seattle and teh cruise ship terminals to Alaska are here too. Travel is great no matter where you go!
Chris your book sounds fascinating. I only spent 2 weeks in the United Arab Emirates and I fell in love with that part of the world. So I read anything that takes place in the Middle East. The Eyes of The Pharoh is on my TBR list. You sound like a very busy and productive person. All the best!