Hot Coco: Interview with Author Cheryl Carpinello

Q&A for Double Decker Tour

1. What made you choose ancient Egypt for the historical setting of Sons of the Sphinx?

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 back 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 premise.

2. Why do you write middle grade/tween/YA novels?

Coming from 25 years of teaching high school students, I want to use my experience to engage those readers and younger ones in the hopes of enticing them to read more. My Arthurian adventures are for readers aged 8/9-12. Kids love Medieval Times. While Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend and Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom are exciting adventure stories, readers learn that while the journey to self-discovery is not a smooth one, it is one that can be traveled. Even young kids are starting to wonder where they belong in the grand scheme of the universe.

Sons of the Sphinx is geared more to readers age 12 and up. At the heart of the story is the tale of Rosa’s coming of age. She is a high school sophomore who is desperate to find her place in life just as were the students I taught. It doesn’t help that she has inherited her Nana’s gift. As she finds out, where she wants to be, may not be where her life takes her, but she has to learn how to make the best of it.

3. Sons of the Sphinx is already gathering awards. Explain, if you can, what makes your books special.

Overall, my experience as a teacher and my ability to understand what motivates kids is a big factor in the success of my books. To that I would also 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, the successes and failures, the temptations and the denials. According to him, this is not a single journey, but one that is repeated throughout our lives.

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.

4. Tell us about you’re currently working on.

I’ve just finished writing the first draft of the sequel to Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend. This was meant to be a stand-alone story, but over the years, readers have been asking what happens with the young Princess Guinevere and, especially, her companion Cedwyn. In fact, for about a year and a half now, Cedwyn has been reminding me that he wants to be a knight, and he wants to know when that is going to happen. I finally gave in. I believe the sequel Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend—Cedwyn’s Story is going to be a much stronger story where my characters make significant growth. Hoping to have it out in late 2015.

5. What are your long-term writing projects?

Oh yes. I’m hoping to have the first book of my trilogy The Feather of the Phoenix out in 2016. These tales will take place, in a manner of speaking, in the ancient worlds of Atlantis, Pompeii, and the Norse civilization. As of now, the books are The Atlantean Horse, The Ashes of Pompeii, and The Norse Star.

Also in the planning stages are The Trojan War and a sequel to Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom.

February 28th Sons of the Sphinx FREE!

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