I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Inge H. Borg to Layered Pages. Inge was born and raised in Austria, Inge H. Borg left home at eighteen to study languages in London, Paris and Moscow. After working for the Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck (the first ones there in 1964), she enthusiastically accepted a job transfer from Vienna to Chicago but after three years moved to Boston where she worked for the Museum of Fine Arts. In 1980, she drove to San Diego. She knew she’d found paradise and finally became a US citizen.
Borg now lives in a quiet lake community in Arkansas where she devotes most of her time to writing. She has spent several years volunteering at the local animal shelter where she was adopted by Pasha, best cat ever.
Hello, Inge! Thank you for chatting with me today. Tell me how you discovered indieBrag?
Hello, Stephanie. It’s such a pleasure and privilege to be here.
I discovered indieBrag long after I received a surprise invitation from Helen Hollick asking me (imaging that) if I wanted to be included in the Historical Novel Society’s 2014 Indie Competition since I apparently qualified as a previous Editor’s Choice selection. I practically hollered back, “Yes, please!” and then danced a little jig (well, in my case, the semblance of a Viennese waltz).
I also started to pay attention to this nice lady’s rollicking series of the Sea Witch. Her covers were adorned with a “funny” gold ring – the indieBRAG Medallion. Via good old Google, I found your site and – a bit brash, perhaps – applied to have Khamsin considered for this honor. Most happily for me, it was.
Please tell me about your book, Khamsin.
Set during the first dynasty (3080 BCE), it revolves about court intrigue, deception, forbidden love and murder. While it is written in an omniscient PoV (spurned as old-fashioned these days), it is a complex saga of the era.
It follows not only King Aha’s woes and foes, but his royal armies going into battle with the priesthood keeping the populace in check. Those priests exert great influence over the court and enforce the strict law of Ma’at often to their benefit (no surprise there). But when the fierce khamsin (the wind of fifty days) rages, all bets are off.
How did you get into writing Historical Fiction?
I started the story of Princess Nefret on a whim with no knowledge about Egypt, ancient or otherwise. But I became fascinated (obsessed might be a better word). I stalked libraries (no Internet then) and poured over the writings of Budge, then Carter – then on to more updated material, each increasingly confusing and contradicting, especially about timelines.With my growing collection of books about Egypt, I suspect I am not through with her yet.
Tell me about Nefret, Royal Daughter of Ancient Egypt’s First Dynasty. What are her strengths and weaknesses?
I feel deeply for this royal child. Hence, I was startled when some readers found Nefret “spoiled, bratty, infuriating.” Spoiled? Yes, being motherless and mostly ignored by her father (maybe I should say, the King), her nursemaid and slaves cater to her whim; they have to. Bratty? She is sixteen with more smarts than she knows how to control in the restrictive royal court. Infuriating? Being rebellious is often a cover-up for a young person scared about her future.
In the Prologue (alas, skipped by many of today’s impatient readers) there already is foreboding as she was born “with a sinner’s soul destined yet to live through many other storms and cataclysms.”
(Get it? Storms—as in Book 2; Cataclysm—as in Book 3 – none of which I had contemplated when I wrote Khamsin; but that little sinner’s curse—as in The Crystal Curse—Book 4—came in very handy once I decided on writing another and then another book; the “Legends of the Winged Scarab” series was born).
What are the emotional triggers of your characters and how do they act on them?
Nefret is scared having to grow up as, at sixteen, she is to take her place in Aha’s Court as the Royal Heiress (despised by her stepmother and the despicable Dubar, the older of her stepbrothers). There is also the Vizier pressuring the King into handing her over in marriage to this vile man (who secretly much prefers the court nobles’ young sons).
Nefret’s initially innocent prank. Luring a stranger, the young surgeon priest Tasar, into her bedchamber, has dire consequences; not just for the two of them, but it snowballs into tragedy for the newly united Two Lands.
What is the mood or tone your characters portray and how does this affect the story?
Nefret tries to overcome her fears by engaging in a forbidden love with the brilliant but low-born Tasar who aspires to become the next High Priest, perhaps even consort prince if he manages to ingratiate and prove himself to the King and Ramose—Nefret, his innocent and willing tool.
Ramose, the powerful High Priest of Ptah, is wise, level-headed and seemingly infallible, but secretly tortured by the unforgivable trespass of his youth.
King Aha has lived too well. It is not just his girth that makes him sluggish; he is easily manipulated by Ramose and Ebu al-Saqqara, the Vizier, the latter plotting to place Egypt’s new double crown on his own misshapen head.
As their fates are scoured by the Devil Wind, many more will shape, deceive, plot, murder, love, and die.
What fascinates you about Ancient Egypt?
What we see today is so awe-inspiring, so unbelievable, most of us simply accept it as “great, so what,” lest we drive ourselves insane with wonder who it all began; what lies still buried under the hot sand?
In Book 4, my protagonists (yes, Nefret’s modern-day “sinner’s soul”) explore the Lost Labyrinth; an actual underground 3,000-room palace, its location confirmed by ground-penetrating radar…yet its existence having been steadfastly denied by the Egyptian Government. Why? What does it hold too dangerous for the world to gleen?
All this stirred the imagination for archaeological action/adventure as I interwove real places and events into the four present-day sequels of Khamsin.
What is some of the research that was involved for your story?
Amazingly, of the hardest items to ferret out was the ancient name for Memphis. As you know, most of today’s accepted “Egyptian” names for the ancient cities and gods actually come from an early traveler, the Greek philosopher Manetho; hence, they are Greek in origin.
I wanted to be more authentic (perhaps the folly of a first-time author). The variations of names for gods, places, cities, are almost endless. For Memphis, I came across Hikuptah, “Home of the Soul of Ptah,” or Het-ka-Ptah “House of the Soul of Ptah.”
But the earliest name for Memphis I found was Ineb-hedj—City of White Walls—and I am sticking to it.
How long did it take for you to write your story?
You had to ask.
Back in 1992, somebody said ‘You should write a book.’ Yeah, right. Who hasn’t heard that before? I started spinning a lazy chapter. (On a second-hand Compaq computer with floppy disks as the operating system—anybody still around remember this?)
But, I was hooked. Before I knew it, I had written 250,000 words. For a couple of years, I printed out and mailed the weighty manuscript to long-suffering agents, collecting pink slips galore. Finally, I stuffed the thing into a bottom drawer and got on with my life.
After I retired and plonked myself into a sleepy lake community in Arkansas (yes, I did see Deliverance, I told my stunned city friends), I came across murmurs about Amazon (and realized it wasn’t ‘the world’s other great river’).
Amazon was holding a competition called the Breakthrough Novel Award (max. 150,000 words—Yikes!). I slashed “my darlings” and blithely entered. As I said: I entered. Period.
Then, I learned I could actually “publish” on my own. A writer’s Nirvana opened up for me!
I continued to write and learn. Oh, my, the tricks I learned and still do—kindly not to confuse “learning” with ‘turning’ aforementioned activities (way too old for that).
One of the greatest benefits of this new publishing world is the interaction with others (trolls excluded), where advice is freely shared, and friendships are forged. Anyone who fancied himself or herself (must stay politically correct here) to be a writer never had it so easy to publish their outpourings—alas, literature’s double-edged sword.
What’s up next for you?
Who were the really, really Ancient Egyptians? And where did they actually come from originally? I mean, around 6500 BCE, when the Sahara was lush and green, and the great Sahari River flowed through it pouring itself into the Nile?
There is a hint (of course) in Book 5, The Nile Conspiracy.
Perhaps a prequel to Khamsin in which I plan to render my fanciful opinion. Readers then can believe it, or not…
Stephanie, thank you so much for this opportunity to tell you and your readers a little more about Khamsin and myself. And thank you and B.R.A.G. even more for all the support you give to us Indies.
Links to Author Pages
A message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to Inge H. Borg who is the author of, Khamsin, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Khamsin, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.