The psychiatrist eyed me from above his wire-rimmed glasses. “So tell me about your mummy.” Ha! I couldn’t resist using that tired old joke to introduce you to tonight’s awesome authors, Rai Aren and Tavius E. who wrote an incredibly fun and unique adventure novel called Secret of the Sands that takes place in the mysterious sands of Egypt in both the present and the past.
A little bit about the two authors taken from Amazon:
Rai (pronounced ‘Ray’) Aren loves the stories of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones (her first kitty cat is named Indiana, Indy for short), and The Matrix (take the red pill!), to name a few. She loves getting lost in these enchanting worlds and studying their underlying philosophies. Ancient Egypt has held a particular fascination for her since childhood. She feels right at home surrounded by Egyptian art and books.
Tavius E. enjoys learning about ancient Egypt and archaeology. He sometimes looks up at the stars in the skies and wonder about all the amazing stories that have never been told. As a result, he and his college friend, Rai Aren, are pursuing their shared interests of being successful storytellers.
Chock-full of archaeological mystery and adventure, their book takes the reader on a fun ride and doesn’t let up until the final page. It has ancient, powerful relics and mind-boggling puzzles to solve. Curses and danger. Humor and suspense. And you’d definitely regret it if you didn’t check it out!
Here’s the back cover copy of Secret of the Sands for you to get a better idea of what it’s about:
A Prophecy was Told…
An ancient prophecy, thousands of years old, told of the coming of the Chosen one, but she will be both loved and feared, and some will stop at nothing to defy everything she represents.
A Secret Long Buried…
A secret power that once proved too deadly, was hidden away deep beneath the sands of Egypt, only to be revealed by its sworn guardians when the time came that the knowledge would be safe.
A Deadly Riddle is Unlocked…
Two young archaeologists fatefully unearth unusual artifacts dating over 12,000 years old. The exhilarating find however, is wrong – very wrong. The artifacts shouldn’t be there…they shouldn’t even exist at all.
A Power Unleashed…
Now after remaining dormant for 12,000 years, the secret has been uncovered, and its true purpose suspected. What will be the greatest discovery in human history will either change us forever or destroy us for trying…
Secret of the Sands has garnered considerable praise…besides being an award-winning novel (It won the silver medal in the category of “Fiction-Mystery” in the Readers Favorite 2009 book contest). Here are just a few of the comments about this intriguing book:
“Rai Aren and Tavius E. have crafted a fast-paced, exciting novel overflowing with mystery and intrigue. The tension is constant. The characters are fully developed. And the plot is gripping. Ancient history and present day relevance are so expertly intertwined, that you forget you are reading a work of fiction.”–Thomas Phillips, author of The Molech Prophecy
“A deep probing mystery riddled with prophecy and danger, Secret of the Sands uses Egypt and her mythology as a backdrop to delve into the meanings of life and religion.” –McNally Robinson
Here’s the book trailer you should definitely check out!
Recently, I had the great fortune of being able to talk to Rai about Secret of the Sands, her writing career, and just about everything else under Ra (er…I mean, the sun!). Here’s what she had to say:
1) Tell us a little, in your own words, what Secret of the Sands is all about? What makes Secret of the Sands so unique?
Secret of the Sands is an alternate historical fiction/archaeology adventure novel with a double-intertwining storyline. It has two young archaeologists working in the field near the Great Sphinx of Giza, and as they uncover a mysterious artifact, a window to the past is opened. The reader is taken to a period of ancient Egyptian history that predates the pharaohs and the pyramids: 10,000 years into the past. As each new discovery is made in the present, the reader is taken back to the past to learn more about this previously unknown civilization and what their legacy is.
Secret of the Sands is suitable for young adult-to-adult audiences, and my favorite way of describing it that it’s a little like mixing elements of “Indiana Jones” with “The Mummy” and “National Treasure”. It even has shades of “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Golden Compass” in it. It has light-hearted aspects, but also contains some serious themes and situations. It focuses on deeply mysterious ancient events and artifacts, and presents a fictional explanation for the true age and origins of the magnificent Great Sphinx of Giza. It’s the kind of story that my co-author & I love, and that we would immediately gravitate to in a bookstore or library.
2) The story seems very intriguing! What was the inspiration behind this unique adventure?
We had already decided to write a novel, but the subject matter hadn’t yet been chosen. We spent a year talking about various things, such as what we wanted to do with our lives, how we needed a creative outlet, and the kinds of books and movies that inspired us and gave us great escapes. We wanted to give that back to others, to provide something that would entertain, and perhaps make people think – something that would stay with them and always be remembered fondly. Movies and books such as Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars gave us so much enjoyment, we felt compelled to create something meaningful of our own.
Then one day I was watching a program on the Discovery Channel about the Great Sphinx of Giza (a monument that had captivated me my whole life). The archaeologists were debating its true age and origins. I knew then – BAM! – I had found the seed of our story. We had both been fascinated by ancient Egypt all of our lives, so my co-author immediately jumped on board when he heard the idea.
3) Tell us a little about the characters. If you can, give us a highlight of the main characters and how they are. Who are your favorites? What strengths and flaws would you say define your main character?
For the two main characters in the present times, Mitch and Alex, it is remarkable how similar certain aspects of their personalities are to my co-author & I – not intentional, it just happened quite naturally, probably because they share our interests and desires for adventure, and the uncovering of deep mysteries and ancient truths, and because this was our first novel (didn’t someone say all writing is autobiographical?). In fact, one person I know commented that as he read the book, it was like having me in the room with him. These main characters are also very much styled on the Indiana Jones/The Mummy/National Treasure type characters. We both love those movies. They stand the test of time in their appeal, their sense of adventure, their sweet, silly, goofy senses of humor, accidental heroism, quirkiness, and overall sense of fun.
Mitch is more cautious than Alex, and sometimes that can help or hinder a situation. Alex can too often plow ahead without thinking or having the proper preparation, but she always follows her heart. Sometimes she gets the prize, sometimes she gets burned.
However, my favorites are Jack & Bob, they are secondary characters, great for comic relief. I love those two guys, they’re loyal, funny, often freaked out, are total geeks, and they somehow manage find courage where they didn’t know they had any. That’s what I love most about them. They’re ‘fraidy cats, but have big hearts.
In the ancient times, the main character is King Traeus. There is a great deal of internal strife within the royal family. King Traeus is trying desperately to do right by his people, amongst whom there are powerful dissenters, and hold his fractured family together. He wants to be a great King, but he is plagued by insecurity, never feeling like he measures up to his father or to the momentous tasks at hand. It’s all too much for him, and he loses control of too many things. His desire to do great things and unite his people and family blinds him smaller, more dangerous elements that creep in. He’s a good person, but he makes poor choices at times, and his shortsightedness and blind spot to true evil is his undoing.
4) Tell us a bit about how you and your co-worker wrote Secret of the Sands. What is his role in your partnership? What is yours?
We’ve always been free to choose what sections we wanted to write, and luckily have never had to fight over anything. In fact, there were times that we were both relieved at what the other one wanted to work on; our strengths complemented one another really well. Once we’ve written sections, we give it to the other to review, edit, and comment on. For the larger concepts, we worked together doing research, plotting story points, debating on the best way to structure things, etc. Once a rough draft is in place, we work hard to smooth the ‘voice’ so that it sounds consistent. That was a really good way to highlight one’s quirky little writing habits! We meshed really well together, we each brought things to the table the story needed, and the book became more than either of us could have done on our own as debut authors.
For the marketing/promo/communications end of things, that’s all me, though I share all important correspondence, including fan mail with my co-author, of course 🙂
5) Besides writing, what are your hobbies, interests? What do you like to for fun?
My first favorite hobby is reading. After that, it’s seeing movies & shows, going for bike rides through parks, enjoying lunches & dinners with friends & family, spending time at home with my family, including our four very sweet, funny, and smart little kitties. I also enjoy traveling and spending long weekends in the sparkly lights of Vegas as often as I can (which isn’t very often, much to my chagrin!). I’m also deeply passionate about and devoted to animal rights and veganism – those are both driving forces in my life. Oh yeah, and I am a MASSIVE sci-fi geek! I’d go to every con in costume if I could, buying everything in sight, getting every autograph. I have Star Trek & Stargate playing constantly at home (Space Channel forever!!!), which probably drives my family nuts!
6) When is the sequel to Secret of the Sands coming out? Can you tell us a little about it? Any other projects in the works that you’d like to share?
The sequel, Destiny of the Sands, is in the finishing stages, and I am hoping to be able to finalize it by the end of the year. I’m aiming to have it published in 2011. It’s already an award-winner (it won the 2009 ReadersFavorite.com bronze medal for “Fiction-Mystery”); we are just going over it, trying to make it even better before it’s released. It will carry on where Secret of the Sands left off, and takes the protagonists on an even darker, more perilous journey. Here’s the tagline:
Some secrets cannot remain hidden, and some cannot be forgiven…
And here is the back cover text:
A JOURNEY BEGUN…
Must now be completed. A reckoning is upon those whose fates are inextricably linked to the mysterious sands of Ancient Egypt.
THE SECRET ONCE BURIED…
Is now hunted by those powerful and corruptible enough to chart a new, terrifying, and ultimately deadly course in human history…
SORROW AND FEAR…
Cannot stand in the way of those who will defend the ways of peace and defy those who are determined to take everything from them…
AN ANCIENT PROPHECY…
Will finally reveal itself, and the startling truths which it holds. The guardians must now trust in those who by destiny were chosen to tell the sacred truth…or destroy all traces of it forever…
I’m very happy with the story and I believe our readers will be, too. It’s action-packed and carries a lot of emotional weight for the characters our readers have come to know. I love it.
As for other projects, I have one novel started (a thriller), I could probably easily finish it if I just sat down and paid some attention to it. It’s been neglected for other things, probably because it’s strong & complete enough to leave alone for awhile. It was inspired by the ideas & philosophies presented in ‘The Matrix’ – that there are unseen forces controlling so much of our lives. Once the protagonist starts to wake up to that, she embarks on a dangerous path to uncover the truth.
I have another novel, just started, about an ordinary couple that cannot tolerate the evil things that people do in our society any longer. Society’s form of justice is no longer enough for them, they feel compelled to act, to mete out swifter and stronger justice. However, they soon find that to be a slippery slope that changes and perverts who they are at the core. It’s a harrowing journey; one that leaves many scars and from which there will be no turning back. This novel is a dark thriller.
The other one I have in development will be a horror/thriller. Aliens come to our world to teach humanity a very bloody lesson, because of the evils they see being done in our world. Writing this one intimidates me a little, because the subject matter scares me, how this is going to be dealt with. I’m actually quite afraid to write parts of it, the dark sections I’ll need write and explore to do the story justice.
For all of these books, it would just be so much easier if I could just do a brain dump – have what’s in my head for each of these novels automatically download into my computer. These stories are crystal clear, very detailed and vivid in my mind. I’m sure a lot of writers feel that at times – that they literally cannot type fast enough to keep up with the scenes & ideas streaming through their minds… oh, to never need sleep!!
7) If you could only offer one piece of advice to aspiring writers out there, what would it be?
Always write what you are passionate about. When you are passionately involved and engaged in the stories you tell, that will permeate everything you write. It makes the journey exciting, meaningful, and fun, and will see you through all of the bumps in the road a writer is sure to face. Plus, the story will literally fly from your fingertips if you do. That makes writing it so much easier and more thrilling for the author.
Thanks Rai for the great interview and I wish you and Tavius the best of luck in all your endeavors!