09 November 2014

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Cheryl Carpinello on SONS OF THE SPHINX

This week, we're pleased to again welcome author Cheryl Carpinello with her latest release, SONS OF THE SPHINX. One lucky visitor will get a free copy of Sons of the Sphinx. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb. 

Armed with what she considers her grandmother’s curse, 15-year-old Rosa agrees to help the ghost of King Tut find his lost queen Hesena. Though Hesena’s ba inhabits part of Rosa, finding the whole spirit of Hesena so that she and Tut can be together for the first time in over 3500 years proves to be a harder task than Rosa first thinks. Thrust back into Ancient Egypt with Tut, Rosa discovers that finding Hesena is not all she must do. She must keep out of the reach of the living Horemheb—who crosses mortal boundaries using Seth’s evil magic—if she is to stay alive to make it back home.

** Q&A with Cheryl Carpinello**

November’s theme is Curses and Cures. How does Sons of the Sphinx fit into this month’s theme?

Sons of the Sphinx is about 15-year-old Rosa and her inheritance from her Nana. This is not a monetary or material inheritance. It is the ability to hear dead people. Some people might consider this an extraordinary gift. Rosa views it as a curse.

While her Nana lived, Rosa was entertained by her stories of the conversations she had with dead people. Then in the fourth grade when Rosa had a girlfriend spend the night, her Nana told them one of those stories. The girl went home the next day and told her mom. After a heated discussion over the phone with the girl’s mother, Rosa’s mom forbade Nana from talking about her ability with Rosa.

A few days before her death, Nana came into Rosa’s room and explained that this ability would pass to Rosa when she departed this life. Rosa’s life changed for what she considered the worse. Dead people would talk to her at school, and while she tried to ignore them, there were times when she just got mad and hollered at them. Try that in a classroom of other 15-year-olds and see the reaction you get.

It wasn’t long before Rosa became convinced that her Nana’s gift was no gift. It was a curse. As for the cure? Readers will have to find that out for themselves.

What made you choose ancient Egypt for your historical setting?

I’ve always been fascinated with ancient times, and Egypt is at the center of my fascination. Ancient Egypt is mysterious, mystic, and romantic to many people, including my target audience: young readers.

I didn’t really consider doing a story set then until after my visit to Egypt in 2008 and the tour of King Tut’s memorabilia in the US. An idea for a story around Tut’s life started to grow. In fact, that story is told by Tut himself in my short historical Tutankhamen Speaks. While that was a fun write, it turned out it wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. I wanted an adventure and to set that adventure in ancient Egypt with Tut sounded like an interesting story.

Why do you choose to write middle grade/tween/YA novels?

Coming from 25 years of teaching high school students, I wanted to use my experience to engage those readers and younger ones in the hopes of enticing them to read more. Sons of the Sphinx is geared more to readers aged 14 and up. Also coming of age story, I believe it helps my readers understand a little more about their lives. Rosa is a high school sophomore who is desperate to find her place in life just as were the students I taught. As she finds out, that place may not be where she wants to be, but she has to learn how to make the best of it, or be miserable for the rest of her life.

My other stories are Arthurian adventures for readers aged 8/9-12. These also carry the message of how, even this young, kids are starting to wonder where they belong in the grand scheme of the universe. Most of the time that journey to discovery is not a smooth one, but is one that can be traveled

You’ve gathered recognition for each of your books, something few writers do. Tell us about this.

I’ve been very blessed with my books. Part of that success comes from my years as a writing instructor at the high school level. Understanding my audience and what drives them—even when they don't—is also part of my success.

Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend: Finalist in the 2011 Global eBook Awards.

Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom: Finalist in the 2012 USA Best Book Awards, Silver Award in Children’s Literary Classics 2012 Book Awards as well as their Seal of Approval, 2013 Evvy Merit Award from CIPA, and Gold Award in 2014 Global eBook Awards.

Tutankhamen Speaks: 2014 Evvy Merit Award from CIPA.

Sons of the Sphinx: Silver Award in Children’s Literary Classics 2014 Books Awards and CLC’s Seal of Approval.

Explain, if you can, what makes your books special.

This is a tough one. I believe I mentioned two earlier: My experience as a teacher and my ability to understand what motivates kids. To that I would have to add my philosophy on life, which is based on Joseph Campbell’s idea of the Hero’s Journey. The Hero With A Thousand Faces is really my Bible when I write. Campbell writes of the journey all of us embark on everyday of our lives: the search for self and worth. According to him, this is not a single journey, but one that is repeated throughout our lives. We face dangers, failures, and successes on each one.

Embedded within all of my characters’ adventures is their quest to find themselves. This is for them the first time they’ve really been able to explore their place in the world. My readers are also experiencing this in their lives. However, my books don’t preach or shout this out loud; instead, this journey is couched in an exciting and often dangerous adventure. This type of story offers readers a type of catharsis the old Greek playwrights used: Letting the audience experience the emotions of the characters, while remaining somewhat safe. Those plays also carried individual meaning for each of the audience members and were very popular.

Any final words?

Only to say thank you for hosting me, and also thanks to your readers for stopping by. I’d also be interested in any of their journeys.

Buy Links
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MVGC96Y/

Author Links

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