Friday, January 6, 2012

The Cobra and Scarab: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Glenn Starkey - Interview

"Hidden for centuries by the shifting sands of the desert, scrolls are unearthed by an archeologist who believes his dream of discovering riches has finally come true. But his hopes of returning to England in glory are shattered when a Bedouin reveals that the ancient text does not hold monetary value, but instead shares the unknown truths of the beautiful Egyptian queen Hatshepsut, the treacheries of nobility, and the two men destined from birth to clash with her.

The ambitious Hatshepsut is willing to become Pharaoh at any cost, even when the price must be paid with her body and with murder. Tetimas, rightful heir to the throne, is forced from childhood to watch his kingship stolen from him by Hatshepsut and her sadistic lover, Ashwan. Yet, despite his fears, Tetimas’s fate and Egypt’s power are destined to become one. Haunted by tragedy, Sakkara seeks solace in war, but is willing to risk everything to save his half-brother, the true king.

In this gripping, classic historical tale, the hatred between two strong-willed leaders is about to boil to the surface. As a nation waits for the victor in a momentous struggle for the throne, a hidden history is at last revealed."


“I will not be Queen of Egypt!" Hatshepsut shouted, fire burning brightly in her eyes. "I will be Pharaoh!"

The king briefly closed his eyes in frustration as he sat listening to the tirade. Shaking his head, lips forming a thin line, he glanced about the empty room. His patience had grown short and already he was regretting the decision to marry her.

"You will be my Queen and you will do as you are told!" King Thutmose II said on the verge of shouting. Grabbing a cup of wine from the table beside him, he drank in deep gulps. Gingerly turning the empty cup in his hands, he watched Hatshepsut pace the room.

She stopped and spun to face him, staring with utter scorn. "I was at our father's side while you were off riding your chariots. When his pains grew too great, it was I who held his hand to comfort him. I was there when he died and it was my name he spoke as his last words!" she screamed, jabbing her chest with a finger. "My name was spoken, not yours!"

"Enough!" Pharaoh jumped to his feet. His grip tightened about the gold cup and he threw it across the room. It smashed into the wall, fell and bounced along the floor. "You will not speak to me in such a manner. Never!" Rushing to her, he grabbed her by the arms, squeezing the small, slender limbs until his knuckles grew white.

She winced, futilely trying to break free of his strong grip. Unable to move, she looked up into his face and spat, consumed with hatred.

Thutmose released his hold and struck her with the back of an open hand, sending her sprawling to the floor. His hands clenched into tight fists as rage scorched his mind.

Hatshepsut glared at him from the floor, tears streaming from her red-rimmed eyes. A thin line of blood trickled from the corner of her mouth, down her chin, and onto her slender throat. She tried to stand. Dizziness held her back.

The revulsion in her eyes never lessened and the king knew it would always be there until her final breath.

"Because you are a man, you can steal what I want the most. I hate men! I hate you!" Hatshepsut's voice broke in anger. "Mighty Pharaoh will have to rape his queen to share her bed!"

Drawing his hand back, Thutmose started toward her. She clamored along the floor, trying to remain out of reach.

Thutmose II stopped abruptly. He lowered his hand and gazed at her. With weighted steps he slowly returned to his chair, allowing his bodyweight to drop hard into the chair, disgusted at the way their talk had evolved. Caught up in a maelstrom of emotions, he sat in silence. When he spoke, his words came in a low, almost guttural voice through clenched teeth. "You will be my queen and bear me heirs to the throne. After the marriage ceremony, I am sending you to Deir el-Bahri for six years, then you will bear children, whether you want to or not!"

Raising herself off the floor, Hatshepsut stood on unsteady feet. When the dizziness passed, she looked directly into his eyes. "I would rather have a Canaanite herdsman mount me than feel your touch," she said in a loathing tone.

The insult created her desired effect. She watched as her stepbrother's hands squeezed the arms of his chair. Pleased with herself, Hatshepsut defiantly wheeled and strode from the room.
Thutmose II sat staring at the door long after she was gone. Outrage fumed within him. His grip on the chair remained hard.


How did you start your writing career?

While in Vietnam I wrote long letters home to one of my aunts. She kept them, saying they were “mini-novels.” I later wrote my military and law enforcement experiences in journals which I gave to my son as a Christmas gift one year. A story floated in my head about a Mongol general finding a son in time of war that he never knew had been born. I wrote it and upon completion I asked a friend, a prominent romance writer at the time, to tell me if the manuscript was a novel or ‘wishful thinking junk.’ She asked her agent to review the novel. The agent said she would do so when she found spare time and only as a favor but was not accepting new clients. She also stated she was going to be extremely rough in her review. Harsh truth was to assist me in learning how to write. Scared to death, I mailed the manuscript to her, expecting a reply in months.  A week later she telephoned, advised she was breaking her client rule and wanted to represent me.  She became my first agent.  

Tell us about your current release.

I have three published novels available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, plus other online booksellers. They are in a variety of formats: eBook, softcover, and hardcover.

“Solomon’s Men” was my first published novel, released several years ago and continues to do well.  “Year of the Ram” and “The Cobra and Scarab: A Novel of Ancient Egypt” were released in November 2011. They were supposed to be released in separate months but a publication processing delay with “Year of the Ram” accidentally pushed them into release almost within the same week.

While “Solomon’s Men” has received great reviews, “The Cobra and Scarab” is coming on strong even though it has only been out a short period.  “Year of the Ram” needs reviews though.

Tell us about your next release.

For now I have an assortment of stories I am developing but my next novel will be part science fiction. I want to take a reader from action adventure to thriller suspense to suddenly being science fiction. If I succeed in writing as I want, readers will not see it as pure science fiction. For now I will leave it as a teaser.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

For me it is writing the first sentence of the first chapter. I may sit for two hours, writing and deleting, before getting past the first sentence. Once I have the correct wording or feeling, I blast forward typing as if I cannot keep pace with my thoughts.

What does your wife and family think of your writing career?

I am fortunate to have a family that supports me 150% in whatever endeavor I undergo. My wife and I have been married thirty-seven years. She is responsible for my return to writing.  I had set my novels aside due to a bout with cancer and a demanding career as a security manager with the corporation. My cancer battle was fought and won.  My retirement finally arrived. I worked another year as a security consultant but my wife said, “Follow your true passion and write.” So, with family encouragement I dusted off half-finished works and the rest is history.  I thought I had ‘lost’ my ability to write due to the time lag.  The recent reviews of my novels have solidified my confidence once more.

What do you think makes a good story?

A good storyteller can take the simplest tale and make it into the greatest novel. Simplicity is what carries a novel through time, making it worthy to be read over and over. A good story comes from the depths of a writer’s soul after it has been churned about in a maelstrom of their thoughts. A reader must feel your passion, be carried away in the world you have created. If you attempt to force a story out, it will fall apart before completion. I say ‘forced out’ because too many writers rush their novel’s completion.  Good novels take time to create.


As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a commercial artist. Not sure where my life’s road split from the desire to be an artist.  Now I paint the canvas of a reader’s mind with words.


Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?

Read classics to learn story composition. Don’t believe everything you write is gold because most will be tarnished brass. Write, write, and write more. Challenge your mind; eventually you will settle into your own style. Be yourself; don’t attempt to copy another author’s style because you will not succeed in doing so. Do not buy 50 books on “How to Write a Great Novel.” Doing so will only confuse you. If you ask someone for their opinion, don’t argue when you receive it. Do not rush to write a novel about whatever movie is popular at the time – i.e., vampires and wolves. Write what is in your heart; write what you truly feel and want to write about. Then edit and continue to edit because most of what you wrote is not necessary in your novel to maintain its proper momentum. Beginning writers usually have pages of ‘filler’ that contributes little to the story but gives great ‘word count.’
Tell us about the absolute BEST fan letter you have received.

The absolute best fan letter I received actually came from a reviewer.
 After a proper submission request to have “The Cobra and Scarab: A Novel of Ancient Egypt” reviewed, I received approval to submit.  The reviewer stated up front she was not a historical fiction fan but liked Egypt and would accept and read the novel when her schedule allowed. She received the book, became intrigued, and did not stop until she finished reading it. I received a letter from her which literally left me stunned because she loved it so much. My novel had held her captive, unable to lay the book aside. My heart soared as I read her review. I wanted to immediately ask if she would read another of my novels, but did not because she had already disrupted her schedule. I didn’t want to appear as if I were taking advantage of her wonderful review. Shortly after the review of “The Cobra and Scarab,” I received a communication from her.  Without telling me, she had purchased another of my novels and wrote a superb review which again left me speechless.  She stated I was now one of her two favorite authors.  Through my writing, I had achieved a magnificent goal and obtained a wonderful fan and new friend.

Do you have a Website or Blog?

My website has my blog, excerpts and information about each of my novels as well as a ‘Contact’ page to personally reach me. My blogs are primarily issues from the heart, sometimes with a bit of humor sprinkled in.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I thank everyone who is considering or has read my novels, browsed my site, and taken time to read interviews and book reviews to learn more about me. I encourage everyone to write me with their general questions, discussions about writing their novels or to discuss my novels. Readers are extremely important to me and I enjoy the communication. I learn from readers as well. I want to be the author that everyone tells their friends about as both a good writer and good person.

Glenn Starkey

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Enter for a chance to win a digital copy of either Solomon's Men OR The Cobra and the Scarab (winner's Choice).
"Like" Glenn on Facebook for a Bonus entry.
Giveaway ends Jan. 21st 11:59PM Central Time. 


Glenn Starkey is a Vietnam veteran, former Marine Corps Sergeant, Texas law enforcement officer, retired as a security manager of a major global corporation, was a security consultant, lectures on a variety of subjects, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Security Management. His travels and experiences, in addition to a love of history, are the foundations of his novels.

Starkey lives with his family and a 93 pound Labradoodle in Alvin, Texas. He welcomes and encourages readers to write to him with their reviews or writing discussions.

Thanks for Looking!


Mei said...

I've so got to read this book!! The excerpt has totally drawn me in

Laurie said...

This giveaway is closed. The winner is: debbie icebergsewell