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Friday, 2 April 2010

Fiona Ingram

Now, this is a new concept. Children's writer, Fiona Ingram, has turned her website into an interactive journey following her characters, Justin and Adam from her book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab through Egypt on an exciting adventure.

Those who survive the journey and manage to translate the Curse of Thoth will be able to read the first chapter in Adam and Justin’s next adventure—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—as they hunt for the Scroll of the Ancients.

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is a thrilling adventure for two young boys, whose fun trip to Egypt turns into a dangerously exciting quest to uncover an ancient and mysterious secret. A book for children (and adults) aged ten and above.

Fiona Ingram's Blog or email Fiona for a more immediate contact: fiona.ingram@telkomsa.net

Fiona has been a journalist for the last fifteen years, so writing a children’s book—The Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for her two nephews (then 10 and 12), who accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into a children’s book and the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone.

Fiona is writing the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans.

I've a few questions myself I'd like to ask:

Have you ever wrote for the adult market?
A few years ago I wrote a Regency Romance because I love Georgette Heyer's Regency Romances. They have to be very detailed and historically accurate because Regency Romance fans are sticklers for detail. I never did much with the manuscript until recently. I submitted it to a new publisher and landed a contract. I had already written most of another regency novel so I hope they will take that as well.

Is more care and attention paid to vocabulary in children's writing than adult?
Without using jaw-breaking vocabulary, writers should filter in challenging words because kids love new words, and (surprise!) love learning new things. They feel more empowered by learning and then using a new word.

Do you sometimes feel you have to be a teacher and teach through your books?
My books are all about history, geography, archaeology, mythology (lots of 'ologies') so the books will always be educational. My heroes go on a series of adventures involving a quest; they delve into new places, discover things about countries and cultures they never knew, and uncover ancient secrets. Kids love anything exciting and mysterious.
The trick is to inform without overloading them with information. Kids who have read the book really love the plot, Egypt, the legends, and the aura of ancient mystery and suspense that pervades the adventure.
I make sure that anything I tell my readers about the place or culture has to be directly related to the plot and what the heroes need to know to survive. That way the information comes across as vital, and not something superfluous.


Most people believe that it is considerably easier to write for children than for adults, has this ever been said to you?
When I began my children's novel I did not know that many people find it hard to write for kids - well, I didn't find it so, but I have read that some writers struggle.
There is always a tendency to 'talk down' to kids, whereas, because kids 'read up' or aspire towards a higher level, the writer should always address kids on a mature level. Never treat them like kids. I always think of my readers as small big people. They are capable of sniffing out a patronising phrase from ten miles away.

Thank you Fiona for your time. It's been a pleasure.
If anybody else has a question for Fiona please put it in the comment box below, and she'll get back to you shortly.
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