Here's a bit about Fiona:
I am a South African children’s author. Up until a few years ago, I was a journalist and editor. Something rather unexpected sparked my new career as an author—a family trip to Egypt with my mother and two young nephews. We had a great time and I thought I’d write them a short story as a different kind of souvenir…. Well, one book and a planned book series later, I had changed careers. I am now on Book 5. I also teach online novel writing for aspiring authors and I find that very satisfying.
It was a complete accident that I ended up writing for the middle grade audience. However, this is the age when I remember loving books and the feeling of awe, wonder, and anticipation when I opened the pages of an exciting book and entered a magical world. So that’s where I feel most comfortable writing.
What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?
Given that I write adventure for young explorers, it isn’t hard to imagine how much I enjoy adventure stories. Anything to do with ancient artifacts, historical mysteries, uncovering of secrets of the past – that’s my kind of book. However, because all my books are meticulously researched, I end up reading a lot of non-fiction as well. I also like travel, movies, music, and taking walks with my dogs.
Tell us about The Secret of the Sacred Scarab and how the story came to be.
Egypt was the catalyst in this adventure, and I never expected to write a book, just a short story. But as writers know, once a story comes to life, there’s no stopping it. The Secret of the Sacred Scarab was inspired by a trip I took to Egypt with my mom and my two nephews, then aged 10 and 12. We had an amazing time exploring this wonderful, ancient culture. When I came back, I thought a short story with my young relatives as the heroes would be a unique memory of an amazing trip. I also put myself in as the boys' aunt and my mother in as their intrepid adventure-loving Gran. Many of the characters and events in the book were inspired by people we met and our experiences in Egypt. Six months later I was hard at work in the first book and had already planned an entire series. If you love history, geography, action, adventure, archaeology, and a story that grips you from page one (plus lots of danger!) then this is the book for you. This will also appeal to anyone who wants to save the world or (for those readers a little older) remembers their plans to do so! As I neared the end of the book, I realized that one book was not enough time to save the world. There had to be more!
Here's a peek at The Secret of the Sacred Scarab:
Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr. Khalid kidnaps them. They learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out!
How do you research your stories?
I get my storyline down, leaving room for changes and new developments, and then I research around the themes. However, once I started writing book one and realized that more books were in the offing, I already began researching the links that would tie all the books together. So, a lot of the heavy lifting has already been done in the process of creating book one. I have a big A4 notebook with all kinds of notes written down. That’s my story Bible.
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
The next book is The Search for the Stone of Excalibur set in Britain, and if you are a King Arthur fan, this is the book for you. This is also a big turning point in the overall plot arc and what happens here resounds though the next two books. Next comes Book 3, The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper, set in the jungles of Mexico. If you are a fan of the Maya and the Aztecs, this is for you. Book 4 is set in the catacombs of Paris, The Treasure of the Knights Templar. If you are a Templar fan, you will love this.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
I am about to start Book 5, The Eye of the Indian Idol, although a lot is already down in my rough notes. I am fascinated by the ancient culture of India and am looking forward to the research and fun of writing this adventure.
What advice do you have for other authors?
I have 3 simple tips that I have learned from experts in the trade. 1. Never give up. 2. Make sure your book meets the highest publishing standards. (Do not cut corners on editing, cover design, and layout.) 3. The cheapest form of marketing is word of mouth – it’s free. So, every day, in some way, tell people about your book/s.
Anything else you want readers to know?
If you are a parent struggling to get your child interested in reading, make sure your child sees you reading, let your child read what interests them, not what you think they should be reading. Make sure there are books and interesting magazines in the home, so your child is surrounded by printed matter. Tip: A print book has so many more benefits than an e-reader but go with what your child enjoys. If possible and if your child is of an age to enjoy reading with you, take 10 minutes every night to read a story together. This bonding cements the love of reading in your child who will reap incredible rewards in their future education.
Where can readers find you and your books?
Book website: www.chroniclesofthestone.com
Facebook book series page: https://www.facebook.com/chroniclesofthestone/
Fiona’s Twitter: @FionaRobyn http://twitter.com/FionaRobyn
Author Site: http://www.FionaIngram.com
Adventure Quest Books where you can find Fiona, Wendy, and me