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.
Chris Eboch’s profile photo by Sonia Sones.