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Monday, October 31, 2011

Guest Blog: Kathryn Meyer Griffith

The Story of Egyptian Heart
A backstory and other tidbits from an old writer’s life
You Tube Book Trailer:

Let me start with this: I have always loved ancient Egyptian stories since I was a child. I remember I wrote one of my first school papers at around eleven years old in pencil on the ancient Egyptians after dragging home an armful of musty smelling books from the library. I don’t recall exactly why I loved this particular time period and the people that lived in it but it might have had something to do with the movies The Ten Commandments (I was raised a Catholic), the horror mummy movies of the 1960’s and the early TV shows on Nefertiti and Cleopatra. I just had this affinity for the period.

It was February 1994 (I noted it on the outside of the manila folder where I keep a running book history on each novel) when I began Egyptian Heart. Originally I called it The Cursed Scarab. Later, I retitled it Egyptian Heart because I wanted it to more reflect the romance tale it had become.

I still had my agent, Lori Perkins, who’d sold four earlier novels for me to Zebra Books (Vampire Blood, 1991; The Last Vampire, 1992; Witches, 1993 and The Calling, 1994…after I’d sold my first three novels on my own to Leisure Books: Evil Stalks the Night, 1984: The Heart of the Rose, 1985; Blood Forge,1989) and she’d told me about a new romantic horror line that Silhouette was starting called the Shadows Line. They wanted to tap into the darker romantic paranormal market. Lori said they wanted the kind of story I wrote but with more romance. It was Silhouette after all. I’d been labeled as a horror writer from the get go, though all my novels blended genres; usually I wrote a romantic horror mixture with dashes of adventure, suspense and sometimes threw in a little history or mystery as well…but in those days the big publishers felt the need (and I think they still do) to squeeze a writer into one narrow slot. So I was a horror writer.

But by 1994 I’d lost my sweet editor at Zebra and a new one took her place...and over the next year he didn’t like anything I wrote for him and later that year Zebra unceremoniously dropped me and my latest book (Predator, a story about a dinosaur in Crater Lake…which never came out but still lingers like some weird ghost book in every computer on the global Internet) only six weeks away from going to the bookstore shelves. I’d begged the new editor not to call it Predator, bad title since there was a popular movie out of that name and it was nothing about a dinosaur, and the cover was awful, an empty boat on a lake…what!!! Having that book – my first ever – dumped like that was a crushing experience, let me tell you. I had a stack of finished, printed covers and had already done my final edits! I got to keep my advance but the book was officially dead. The new editor-that-didn’t-like-my-writing explained: “No one wants to read a book about a dinosaur.” And six months later Jurassic Park came out! The book is still sitting in a drawer somewhere and perhaps one day I’ll resurrect and finish it as well).

At that point, my agent wanted me to branch out so I wrote two manuscripts for the Silhouette Shadows Line or tried to. Egyptian Heart and Shadow Road (a romantic suspense about a woman truck driver driving a dangerous wintry route with a murderer on her tail, and a hitchhiker in her cab that she feels she’s falling in love with…and fears, at times, he’s the killer; which later I retitled and sold as Winter’s Journey). To make a long story short, Silhouette Shadows turned both down. Seems I had too much horror in them; not enough sex. I didn’t follow the formula. Sheesh. I’ve never liked depending too much on sex in any of my books or writing a book too predictable. The originality of the novel and the characters make the story for me.

After that my agent dropped me. Ah, the life of a writer.

So, then life (as it has many times in my 39 year writing career), family and job problems, and my other novels (I was into murder mysteries for years and sold two to Avalon Books), got in the way and Egyptian Heart and Shadow Road went into drawer hibernation until, oh, about 2004, when I rediscovered them, dug them out, rewrote them and began trying to sell them again. Sometimes, I’ve found, a book left alone in a dark cubbyhole ages like good wine. (Or sometimes it just turns to vinegar.)

Fast forward three years to 2007 and a new e-book (e-books still being considered a risky new-fangled craze at that time!) publisher called The Wild Rose Press contracted both and eventually a third called The Ice Bridge, a ghostly romantic murder mystery set on Mackinac Island, and published them. Good publisher. They treated me well. But in 2010 when I contracted my two newest novels, Before the End: A Time of Demons and The Woman in Crimson (both romantic horror) my new publisher, Kim Richards Gilchrist at Damnation Books wanted to bring out all my old out-of-print novels again (going back to those early Leisure Books from the 1980’s) in print – and e-books for the first time ever. Seven old paperbacks. I’d rewrite them all, get new covers and they’d all live again. I was thrilled. And grateful. It would take a lot of work on both our parts but when we were done ALL my old novels would be in print again and in electronic form out in the world. I jumped right in.

Then when my two year contract (I was lucky, e-books still being new, it was only for two years; now most e-book publishers contract for five years or longer) ran out with The Wild Rose Press. I happily switched Egyptian Heart, Winter’s Journey, The Ice Bridge and a novella Don’t Look Back, Agnes to Eternal Press (Damnation Books sister company). Kim Richards, and her husband William, had just brought Realms of Fantasy Magazine into the fold, as well.

So. Egyptian Heart has had a very long history. Simply put, it’s a time travel paranormal romance set in the ancient times of Nefertiti and her heretic Pharaoh Akhenaton. It’s more romance than history, though I did a lot of research in 1994… originally for my 1994 Zebra horror paperback The Calling. I thought: why waste all this hard worked for research on just one novel? So I also used it for Egyptian Heart and an erotic short story, The Nameless One, one that Zebra had placed in their 1994 horror anthology Dark Seductions and now it’s available from Damnation Books.

The new cover for Egyptian Heart by Dawne Dominique is amazingly beautiful and Kim Richards herself was my editor. Thank you both.

So from a child’s love of ancient Egypt to the finished book, it’s been a long journey and goes to show all you writer’s out there that, yes, persistence does sometimes win out. And a good book never dies. It just ages like wine in a dark drawer.

I hope you’ll give Egyptian Heart a look and a read. The best way to describe it is through its blurb and so here it is:

Maggie Owen is a beautiful, spirited Egyptologist, but lonely. Even being in Egypt on a grant from the college she teaches at to search for an undiscovered necropolis she’s certain lies below the sands beyond the pyramids of Gizah doesn’t give her the happiness she’d hoped it would.

There’s always been and is something missing. Love.

Then her workmen uncover Ramose Nakh-Min’s ancient tomb and an amulet from his sarcophagus hurls her back to 1340 B.C – where she falls hopelessly in love with the man she was destined to be with, noble Ramose, who faithfully serves the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaton and his queen Nefertiti.

She’s fallen into perilous times with civil war threatening Egypt. She’s been mistaken for one of Ramose’s runaway slaves and with her light hair, jinn green eyes and fair skin she doesn’t fit in. Some say she’s magical and evil. Ramose’s favorite, Makere, tries to kill her.

The people, angry the Pharaoh has set his Queen aside and forced them to worship one god are rising up against him.

Maggie’s caught dangerously in the middle.

In the end, desperately in love, will she find a way to stay alive and with Ramose in ancient Egypt–and to make a difference in his world and history?

Because Maggie has finally found love. ***

And thank you for having me on your blog! Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21 and have had fourteen (nine romantic horror, one historical romance and two mysteries) previous novels published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.

I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-three years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have two quirky cats, Sasha and Cleo, and the four of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die.

E-mail me at I love to hear from my readers.


Michelle said...

Great blog post. Egytian Heart and The Calling both sound great. Happy Halloween

Debby said...

It must be wonderful to combine more than one love and get a book. Egypt has fascinated me a well. Great post!
debby236 at gmail dot com

sashagirl said...

Thank you The Long and Short of It for running by backstory essay THE STORY OF EGYPTIAN HEART....and HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE from romantic horror author of 14 novels and 7 short stories, a 2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS FINALIST NOMINEE for her THE LAST VAMPIRE-Revised Author's Edition, Kathryn Meyer Griffith P.S. I also have a ghostly murder mystery THE ICE BRIDGE coming out from Eternal Press on November 7, 2011.