Monday, April 2, 2012

Sandra Sookoo's Cairo Nights

ND: A very big welcome to a regular here on my blog, Sandra Sookoo, who's got quite a number of releases under her belt!

SS: Thank you for having me on your blog today!

ND: Egypt is one of my favourite topics. What made you decide on this as a setting and how did you go about picking the era? Were there any specific resources you found especially useful?

SS: Well, Egypt has always been an interest of mine since an early age. Since I haven’t yet visited this location, I thought writing about it was the next best thing. And yes, a lot of research was involved before penning the first word in the story. I set Cairo Nights in the late 1880s because it’s a grand time in history around the world when everyone is sitting on the cusp of great things. I did heavy research on the hotel featured in the story, the tombs, the area, etc. In a few places, a sprinkling of creative license was taken to make things “gel” a bit better.

ND: Which historical sites did you feature in the story?

SS: I featured the pyramids, of course, since those are what people think of when they think of Egypt. The Great Pyramid comes into play in a couple of scenes, along with one of the lesser or minor pyramids you can no longer access in modern times. I could have written about the wonders of Egypt forever, and I may come back and revisit the country for a future story.

ND: You've got a fascinating clash of motivations happening for your main characters. How does the conflict affect their fascination with each other?

SS: Well, Joy’s a mix of motivation. She’s the daughter of a zealous missionary, but she’s seen how that fervor affected her parents’ relationship. While she wants to find love, she can’t let herself trust. Of course, there’s a huge reason she feels so passionately about Cairo’s children, but I’m not giving that secret away. When Quinn comes swaggering along, with nothing more than wanting to make money, her ire’s up. All of this works together and as the layers peel away while the story unfolds, you find these two characters are more like real life than you’d want to admit. Life goes on after tragedy or setbacks and you have to take happiness when it comes.

ND: What was your favourite scene to write? And your most difficult?

SS: My favorite scene? Hmm, that’s a hard one. I’d say the first time we see Joy in one of the tombs. I can very well image what it felt like to be in that windowless place with the dust of ages stirring in the air. My most difficult scene? Also hard, but I’d say the climactic scene where Joy comes clean and reveals her most painful truth to Quinn. Again, I can’t give it away…

Excerpt from opening of the book:

A fine pink haze settled over the Giza plateau, softening the late afternoon sun’s glare. The majestic pyramids sat stately and eternal in the near distance, symbols of power, authority and mystery for centuries, their dun colored bricks a stark contrast to the robin’s egg blue of the sky. The black shapes of tourists milled about the pyramids’ base. She could only hope this batch would be respectful and leave the natural wonder as they found it. Below, the jovial chatter of the Mena House gardeners reached her ears and brought a smile to her lips. Egypt, in all its many facets, never ceased to be a source of amazement.
Perfection. Glorious. Humbling.

Joy Debinham leaned out farther over the railing. Her gaze fell on a tall man, his long legs encased in khaki trousers. The sleeves of his white work shirt were rolled to his elbows revealing deeply tanned skin, while brown leather braces crisscrossed his back. As he gestured to his male companion, the fabric pulled taut across a pair of broad shoulders. From her perch on the second floor, she admired his thick black hair, parted on one side, and the wink of the sun on his spectacles. She'd not seen him around the hotel grounds before, but he had potential to be devastating to any female he came into contact with. She couldn't stop a sigh of appreciation from escaping.

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So what about you? Is there an exotic port of call you want to see before you die? Tell me and I might write about it!

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