Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Meet Fiona Ingram, Award-Winning Children's Author

Please welcome children's author Fiona Ingram to Carpinello's Writing Pages. I met Fiona about two years ago after reading her book Secret of the Sacred Scarab. We discovered that our writing interests are similar - ancient Egypt and the Legendary King Arthur. Fiona and I share writing tips, marketing ideas, and plan to team up in 2013 for an exciting joint marketing venture when her next book The Search for the Stone of Excalibur is published.

Fiona, please tell us a bit about yourself.

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 well into the third book in my MG adventure series Chronicles of the Stone, with a movie option signed for Book One (The Secret of the Sacred Scarab), and the editing process under way for Book Two (The Search for the Stone of Excalibur). 

Why did you pick to write books for MG?

My two nephews who inspired the young heroes of my story were 10 and 12 at the time. Their excitement, their wonder, and amazement at everything we saw in Egypt opened my eyes to the magical age of middle graders. They still believe in the incredible possibilities of life, and their viewpoint is refreshing and enchanting.  

What types of books do you like to read?

I read just about anything but I’m not keen on chick lit (I find it improbable) and (I confess) Young Adult because the main characters are usually intensely self-absorbed. I love detective, mystery, historical, and archaeological thrillers. I also enjoy political thrillers and 19th century writers.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

I feel so guilty when I am not writing—it’s like having permanent homework—that I keep finding excuses to get back to the computer. However, I love movies, musical and dance theatre, actually any kind of shows, travel, art, reading, enjoying my beautiful home and my pets. Lest I forget, dining out only at restaurants that have the best desserts in town.

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab has proven to be an award-winning story. Tell us about it.

As I mentioned earlier, my writing career veered sharply in another direction after my trip to Egypt. It started off as a short story for my two nephews and then just grew into a book, another book idea, and finally a series. It was impossible to save the world in one book! The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is a middle grade children’s adventure, filled with action, mystery, history (yes!), geography, archaeology, and all the kind of hands-on/solving clues stuff kids love. The story 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.

My book has also done me proud in Book Awards and various contests.
  • Finalist Children's Fiction USA Next Generation 2009 Indie Book Awards
  • Finalist Juvenile Fiction USA National Best Books 2009 Awards
  • Winner Pre-Teen USA 2009 Readers' Favorites Awards
  • Winner Silver Medal Teen Fiction 2010 Nautilus Book Awards
  • Finalist Children’s Fiction 2010 International Book Awards
  • Winner Bronze Medal Pre-Teen Fiction 2010 Moonbeam Book Awards
  • Finalist 2011 Rubery Book Awards
  • Winner Gold Award Mystery Pre-Teen 2011 Children’s Literary Classics Awards

What other books have you written?

I wonder if I should confess now to having written historical romance novels under my pseudonym Arabella Sheraton. I love Regency novels, and am a huge fan of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. One day my mother (who sadly passed away just recently) said she thought I could also write a romance, and that I should try. She was a Mills & Boon addict. I said, OK, and produced my first novel, which was (amazingly) snapped up by a fabulous publisher. Thereafter, they commissioned more. I have written four Regency romances with a Valentine novella and another full-length novel contracted. You can find the first two books on Amazon. The others will be available shortly. 

What’s next for your MG writing? Are you working on a new story?

I am halfway through The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper in The Chronicles of the Stone series. Of course, I am at the point where I absolutely have to take a trip there. My young heroes have crashed into the Mexican jungle and have been rescued by an uncontacted tribe as they search for the Third Stone of Power. All very dangerous and lots of fun.

What advice do you have for other authors?

I love this question and always give the same answer:

Never give up.

Make sure your writing meets the industry standards - i.e. get it professionally edited. 

Tell someone about your book every day. Word of mouth is the best advertising.

Share with us your journey as a writer.

It has been an incredible journey and not without its dark and dreary moments. Living in South Africa affords very few good opportunities for publishing. Hence my decision to find a publisher in the USA. That too has its drawbacks—I can’t do as much as I would like with book readings etc. But the benefit of the Internet has proved itself! I have found that through blogging, tweeting, Facebook, and other online means, I have been able to build up a good author profile. 

Anything else you want readers to know?

Just that my greatest ambition is to write a detective novel, since I enjoy them so much, and I hope one day I can work out an intricate plot that will keep everyone guessing to the last page!

And now a glimpse into The Secret of the Sacred Scarab.

A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the cousins and their scarab, do the boys realise they are in terrible danger. Dr. Khalid wants the relic at all costs. 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 survive terrifying dangers in a hostile environment (such as a giant cobra, as well as sinking sand), pursued by enemies in their quest to solve the secret of the sacred scarab. 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. They must also learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another! 

My Review of The Secret of the Sacred Scarab.

This was the second time I've read Fiona's book, but that didn't lessen the excitement. Instead, I found myself talking to the boys, trying to warn them, much like I would do each time I re-read Romeo and Juliet with my freshmen students!

The mystery and excitement that is Egypt will hook young readers from the start. Adam and Justin are characters that are easy to relate to as each exhibit the qualities of caution and rashness. Don't we all. When one is ready to race onward, the other puts the brakes on. 

The ancient settings of Egypt are always intriguing and add to the mysery of the boys' journey. Fiona's first-hand knowledge of these sites puts readers right there beside Adam and Justin.

Lots of twists and turns round out this award-winning story.

Links for Fiona and her books:

Author Site: 
Facebook page: 
Goodreads author page: 
Book website: 

Amazon Kindle 

Amazon Paperback


  1. Thanks for linking your post into the Kid Lit Blog Hop! It's fun to read interviews with the author because you sort of get behind the scenes of the stories. That way, when you read the book, you have the author's voice in the back of your head! I love that. Thanks again!

    1. Thanks, Jaymie. The Kid Lit Blog Hop is a fabulous idea. Lots of great blogs on there.

      If you haven't seen it, here is the web address:

      They try to do this each Wednesday.

  2. I love the visual of you yelling at a book, Cheryl! It's funny because it's true - who among us hasn't done that with a compelling book?

    Ancient Egypt fascinates me as well. I spent ten days in Egypt once for a vacation, and I was hooked. I read everything I can get my hands on with the word "Egypt" in the title. Or the subtitle. Or the description :)

  3. I accidentally deleted this comment from Taxi in Philadelphia:

    Thank you so much for sharing this informative post.. Stay blessed!!

  4. Thanks Fiona for stopping by to get acquainted.

  5. Thank you for hosting me, Cheryl! Congrats on your latest achievement with book awards as well. I will be sure to keep you posted as soon as Book Two is out.

  6. Always a strange feeling when worlds collide! Cheryl, we just finished reading Guinevere AND I will be reading The Secret of the Sacred Scarab (try saying THAT fast 10 times!) next with Erik from This Kid Reviews Books as guest kid reviewer! Weird! Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop. I'm following you now. :D

  7. Thanks for following my blog, Renee. It is always amazing what a small world we all live in. Glad to hear that you have finished Guinevere. Can't wait for Erik's review. You will both like The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, I'm sure. (And typing that is not easy either!)

    You and Erik may want to check out a sneak peak of my next book on my publisher Muse's blog. It is a post for Halloween. The link is

    Thanks again,

  8. Hi Cheryl, We (me and Erik!) both loved the book by Fiona - you were right! I can't imagine the challenges Fiona faced being based in South Africa. So glad she's emerging in the larger market - the book is fabulous!

    Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop and for co-hosting this one with us! :D

    1. She'll be delighted that you enjoyed it. Her next book in the series should be out soon.

  9. I must have missed last time that Fiona has written in an entirely other genre as well. Interesting!