History was never my forte in school. It was right up there with math (urgh!). But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to develop a respect for the past. After all, it’s how we’ve gotten to where we are today. And I must admit that when I see an older building or an abandoned house, I’m usually thinking about who was there before me and what they were like.
When I decided to write in the action-adventure genre, I wanted books that propelled the reader along with fast-paced action! I didn’t want them bogged down with too much history. They’re to be fun reads, not textbooks! In keeping with this fun, I’ve compiled some photographs from my trip to the Royal Ontario Museum and paired them with relevant backgrounds and snippets taken from my latest release The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh. I hope you enjoy!
The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh opens in Egypt. In this snippet, Alex and Jasper are inside a tunnel they found beneath Egypt’s Western Desert. Jasper interprets hieroglyphs that confirm a pharaoh’s tomb is nearby, but they also reveal more…
“The Emerald—” She slapped a hand over her mouth, her eyes scanning his. She lowered her hand. “Are you kidding me? As in the tablets that are rumored to possess the ability to turn base metal into gold? To give man the ability to traverse Heaven and Earth?”
He raised an eyebrow. “I’m not sure if there are any other Emerald Tablets.”
She swallowed, uneasy. She’d always clung to reason in the past, and it had served her well. “There’s no way they can be real.”
“Well, according to this—” Jasper pointed toward the hieroglyphics “—they are real and we’re on our way to finding them.”
“Whoa.” Alex took a few steps and looped back.
~Snippet from the Prologue, The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh
Alex calls in Matthew for help, who is off on an adrenaline-rush-inducing adventure of his own. After talking to Alex, he wastes no time returning home to Toronto, Canada where he contacts his friends Cal, a photographer and Robyn, a curator for the Royal Ontario Museum.
Robyn’s work as a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum and her love for ancient culture, with special enthusiasm for Egyptian History, made her ideal for the expedition.
Once in Egypt, the intrepid explorers went straight to the dig site and began exploring the subterranean space. They soon reached a point where it was, quite literally, impossible to turn back. As you can tell from these snippets, their search held as much mystery as it did reward.
Matthew walked over to the wall where the hieroglyphics were and ran his hand along it. Somewhere behind here was a room. Did it contain the Tablets?
~Snippet from Chapter 36, The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh
Moments later, Matthew joined Reda, Jasper, Cal, and the women in the main antechamber. He sucked in a breath through his mouth. The room was flooded in light, and gold peeked out from some artifacts despite the layers of dust—and there was a lot of gold in this room. Some of the pieces were quite intricate, and many objects were sculpted in the forms of various Egyptian gods.
~Snippet from Chapter 35, The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh
As their underground trek continued, there were some tense moments – especially between Alex and Robyn, who both held feelings for the adventurous Matthew. Cal’s inquisitive nature and unique sense of humor, however, could be counted on to help lighten the mood.
“What are these?” Cal lowered his camera and was pointing to several small statues, on the floor near the shrine. They were grouped together as a troop and each was about ten inches tall.
“They are most commonly known as shabti or ushabti,” Matthew said.
“You remember what I said about English being a good language?” Cal smirked.
Alex came over to them, Robyn trailing her. “Ushabti is the English term,” Alex said. “Just like viscera was.”
Cal looked at Matthew and crossed his eyes. Matthew laughed.
“And what are they exactly?” Cal asked.
“Figurines that represent those who were to serve the pharaoh in his afterlife. They are often found in rooms containing treasure, as they are meant to protect it.”
“Okay, I’m still stuck on how these could service a dead guy,” Cal said.
“In many ways,” Alex began. “On each ushabti, there will be a spell, for example.”
“Also known as a shabti formula,” Robyn interjected. “It would detail what that individual ushabti’s responsibilities are. Each will have different tools with them—hoes, baskets, chisels, other tools for manual labor. But the list could go on.”
~Snippet from Chapter 24, The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh
He sat down, looking at the burial chamber. He could see the sarcophagus from this vantage point. Maybe if they’d just opened the coffin and he’d seen the mummy, he’d be able to get a grip. He would confirm that the pharaoh was nothing but a harmless rotting corpse. As it was, his imagination ran wild, and scenes from the Mummy movies came to his mind’s eye all too clearly. Jasper had said the pharaoh’s spirit would be at unrest for eternity. Cal got cranky when he didn’t get a full eight hours, so he could only imagine how pissed off the dead pharaoh would be.
~Snippet from Chapter 27, The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh
“Scarabs were chosen to depict Khepri because the scarab beetle rolls dung across the sand. As it does so, the dung forms a ball. The ancient Egyptians saw it as a symbol of the sun moving across the sky,” Robyn explained.
“I’d say they had time on their hands.” Cal laughed, but no one else did. “Hmm. Tough crowd.”
~Snippet from Chapter 15, The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh
“Osiris? Who is he again?” Cal asked.
“He’s the god of the underworld, or more specifically, the dead pharaoh who was believed to have become Osiris,” Robyn answered.
~Snippet from Chapter 15, The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh
“I can’t believe I didn’t think of this until now, especially with everything going on with Sophie, but don’t pharaohs’ tombs have curses?” Cal asked out of nowhere. “I know there was one on King Tut’s tomb.”
His words relayed more concern than his expression, but maybe that was just because he wasn’t awake enough to project it. He was prone to paranoia, though.
Maybe she could have some fun with this… Robyn turned to Matthew. “Is now a good time to tell him that curses are standard for Egyptian tombs?”
Matthew frowned. “Probably not.”
“What?” Cal leaned across the table and threw his arms up in the air. “Are you guys being serious?”
~Snippet from Chapter 9, The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh
She meandered, scanning the items on the floor. Even beneath a thick coating of sand and dust, many had distinguishable outlines: pottery vessels, jars, wine amphorae, dishes—
“Okay, what are those?” She turned to see Cal pointing to the far-right corner of the room. She followed the direction of his finger.
“Cat mummies,” Matthew and Alex said at the same time.
“What?” Cal blurted out.
“Cat mummies,” Alex repeated. “Cats were considered sacred, and it was common for them to be sacrificed as an offering and then mummified.”
“It was actually a profitable business in ancient Egypt,” Robyn interjected. “Even people who were not royalty would pay to have cats mummified.” She glanced at Alex and smiled when their eyes met.
Alex nodded. “And the more money a person had, the more elaborate the wrappings and ritual.”
“There’s much I need to learn,” Cal admitted and lifted his camera back to his face.
~Snippet from Chapter 22, The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh
Cal came in after Robyn, followed by Matthew and Jasper. Their combined headlamps made everything easier to discern: couches, statues, beds, chests, models of ships, golden trinkets, swaths of fabric, arrows, and the list went on. She walked around the room, so tempted to put her hands on everything, but she wouldn’t want the oils from her skin to ruin or soil the artifacts. Still, she couldn’t fully resist and swiped away a thick coating of sand from the arm of a chair.
“It’s gold,” she exclaimed and noticed Matthew smiling.
“Well, technically, it’s gilded wood, but—”
“You touched it,” Alex said. It wasn’t as much a statement as it was an accusation.
Robyn felt the back of her neck stiffen. “I do have experience working with precious antiquities.”
“I don’t mean to insult you, but—”
Robyn stood her ground. “I understand and respect how valuable these artifacts are.”
“Fine, but please, don’t touch anything else.”
Robyn caught Matthew’s eye, but he gave no indication that he was about to come to her defense. She felt her cheeks heat.
Sure, take her side…
Robyn jutted out her chin, took a deep breath, and turned away from him.
~Snippet from Chapter 23, The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh
As you can see, I had a wonderful time exploring the Royal Ontario Museum. It was so meaningful to see references from my book up close and personal, and it is even better to share them with you!