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Why Veronica Scott Wrote SONG OF THE NILE: GODS OF EGYPT

I feel like I’m working toward my Egyptology degree some days...

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It’s been a while since I was here to talk about ancient Egypt instead of scifi romance! Thanks for having me back to share some tidbits about the ‘story behind the story’ – I love doing this post as part of my official launch for every book.

Ancient Egypt has been a passion of mine since I checked Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw out of my elementary school’s library and found myself transfixed not only by the vanished civilization but also the romance and the hint of the paranormal. (The goddess Nuit watches some of the action from her position holding up the night sky.) I wanted MORE romance and a lot more involvement by the gods. Song of the Nile is my eighth paranormal romance novel set in the general 1550 BCE era, all connected to the court of my Pharaoh, who is actually a composite of several men who ruled Egypt in that time frame.

Merneith, the heroine and Nikare, the hero, were the supporting characters in my award winning 2017 novel Lady of the Nile and almost immediately readers began asking me for the pair to receive their story. I generally try to write one Egyptian novel per year but 2018 got too busy – I even moved – and before I knew it we were here in 2019 and I was determined not to lose any more time. (I did release quite a few scifi romances in that time though.)

During 2018, I was also privileged to visit the traveling exhibition of a portion of King Tutankhamun’s possessions at the LA museum and was inspired all over again to ‘get back to ancient Egypt’ as soon as I could! Tut lived about 200 years after my characters so the items on display from his tomb are very timely to my own setting.

Egyptian HarpistI have a modern day painted papyrus of a harpist hanging on my wall, taken from a tomb painting and she was one inspiration for my heroine, Merneith. Since she plays the harp, I did a lot of research into ancient musical instruments, modern day harpists and anything else that might add good detail to the story. I listened to modern day renditions of ancient songs – here’s a good one by Michael Levy – although since Merneith is often inspired by direct conversation with the gods in the novel, her music may sound even more elevated. Additionally, Merneith escaped from a hidden city in Lady of the Nile and knows no one in Thebes except Nikare…but he’s gone on a mission for Pharaoh.

Nikare was the Medjai assigned to assist the hero in Lady of the Nile and I can tell you my direct inspiration for writing a Medjai hero comes from the Brendan Fraser movie “The Mummy” in 1999. Who didn’t find Ardeth Bey, leader of the Medjai, a fascinating guy?  (Takes a moment to fan self.) No, Nikare doesn’t physically resemble Ardeth, nor does he ride a horse but the imposing character from the movie sure stayed in my memory! I did more research on the Medjai over the years, to find out how real the entire concept was and learned they were indeed Pharaoh’s police force in ancient Thebes, preserving order and the rule of law, as personified by the goddess Ma’at and her principles. They also looked out for Pharaoh’s interests. (The name can be spelled Medjai or Medjay.) I incorporated much of my research into creating Nikare and the organization within which he functions.

I feel like I’m working toward my Egyptology degree some days, because I’m reading a lot of actual text books and very scholarly tomes, but I love immersing myself in the bygone era. I keep a running list on my blog of books I’ve consulted. I found discussion of actual ‘cases’ worked by the Medjai and partially based the criminal plot Nikare is assigned to thwart on some ancient true events.

At one point I had a scare because a major plot point hinges on the temple of Amun paying taxes and then I read that the temple was exempt from paying taxes. Oh noes! I may be telling a paranormal story but I try to get most of the history as ‘real’ as I can. I did more research – have I mentioned how much I looove doing this research? – and found out in actuality the temple in Thebes received its exemption from taxation 200 years or so after the time my novel occurs. Whew! Problem solved. Yes, okay, maybe I do get a bit too deeply immersed in all of this some days. I try to keep the infinite detail in the novels to an acceptable level, I promise.

Unfortunately for both Merneith and Nikare, they’re kept apart by his undercover assignment for much of the book but then she becomes ensnared in the evil doers’ plans and….

One other thing I’ll add before getting to the blurb and the excerpt, is that my readers are really fond of Sobek the Crocodile God, as am I, and he just didn’t figure into the plot of this novel BUT we do have a glimpse of him at one of the events where Merneith plays the harp (no spoilers). That was my wink and a nod to my wonderful readers! I’m trying to develop a new plot where Sobek could play an actual role but since his own romance has been told (in Priestess of the Nile, my first ever published book, in 2012), it’s a bit challenging.

Thank you to all my readers who encourage me to keep revisiting ancient Egypt – it wouldn’t happen without your support!

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About Song of the Nile:

Merneith, a harpist of rare talents, blessed by the goddess Hathor, has recently arrived in Thebes and joined Pharaoh’s court, but must hide secrets from her past. As she settles into her new life in the palace, the one man she can’t forget and followed to Thebes is unaccountably absent.

Nikare, a Medjai police officer serving under Pharaoh’s direct orders, is now deep undercover investigating high crimes against Egypt and forbidden to contact Merneith. Masquerading as a priest to deceive the plotters, he watches over her from afar and longs for the day he can approach her openly.

When an unscrupulous noble ensnares Merneith in the web of evil Nikare is pledged to bring down, the two must stand together against earthly and magical forces to save their own lives and protect Egypt.

How much help will the gods provide? Will the pair survive the final showdown between Pharaoh and the conspirators and find the happy future together they desire?

This is a standalone novel but is also a direct sequel to Lady of the Nile, which is where Merneith and Nikare were first encountered as supporting characters. Now they move front and center in the fight to protect Egypt from a new threat. Mild spoilers for Lady of the Nile.

Read an excerpt: Merneith visits the temple of Hathor in Thebes

She laid the small bouquet of flowers she’d bought in the marketplace on the stone and rinsed her hands off in the large basin next to the slightly raised platform. She gazed at the beautifully painted miniature of Hathor, surrounded by maidens playing their sistra as they danced, and felt uplifted to be a part of the musical world. “May only the finest perfumes rise to your nostrils, may the music in your ears be of the divine inspiration and may your days be filled with joy, Great One. I, your humble servant, being a harpist honored to sit among Pharaoh’s company of musicians, have come to ask thy blessing on my performance, in hopes he and his Great Royal Wife may be pleased and have no regrets over their kindness to me.” And help me remember to play the variations on the songs I’ve learned here in Thebes, rather than reverting to the versions I learned as a child, if I panic. She was sure the goddess would understand the final part of the petition but had no desire for anyone else to overhear her. 

The courtyard was crowded, and she was having trouble blocking out the sound of the man at the altar next to her. He was praying for the goddess to bring him a new mistress since his current bedmate was less than satisfactory, a problem he was detailing with some specificity.

True, Hathor was a goddess of many aspects, including sex and fertility, but Merneith had a hard time not becoming distracted by his lengthy prayer. She could understand now why the wealthier penitents would gladly pay additional deben to the temple’s coffers to pray inside, closer to the mysteries of the goddess’s presence in the innermost sanctum and away from the press of ordinary citizens. 

Next time perhaps she’d part with some of her precious deben from pharaoh’s stipend, to obtain the same favor. The fact she was from the royal household wouldn’t be enough to ensure her success in passing by the attentive priests waiting at the grander entrance to collect donations from the more prosperous. So be it, such was the way here in Thebes.

The man next to her was beginning to cast her occasional glances as he continued his prayer. Surely he didn’t think the goddess had brought her here in answer to his lament! Merneith scrambled to her feet more hastily than she’d intended and backed away. Her place at the altar was immediately taken by a young couple, and she turned to work her way through the crowd. She wanted to reach the street before the man did.

She felt oddly deflated, like a collapsed wine sack as she walked out. Her visit to the temple hadn’t gone at all as she’d expected. There were no temples to Egyptian gods in the hidden city and she’d had high anticipation for today’s trip. The whole thing had been rushed and impersonal, with not even a hint of a divine presence. Had her prayer even been heard?

She startled at a light touch on her elbow and turned to see a young priestess standing there. The woman had beautiful, luminous brown eyes accented by skillfully applied malachite and kohl, and was richly dressed in fine pleated linen so white it was nearly blinding in the sunlight. The priestess wore an elaborate necklace of carnelian and malachite scarabs around her neck and across her ample bosom. The pattern was repeated in brightly colored thread at the hem of her skirt. Her wig was lustrous, featuring intricate braids bound with golden beads, and on her head she wore a golden circlet, with small horns pointing outward in honor of the goddess. She carried a golden sistrum, the beads carved from gemstones and must have come from the ceremonies going on in the main temple courtyard.

“Will you come with me?” asked the priestess.

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Author Bio and Links:

author photoUSA Today Best Selling Author

 Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!

She read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the official audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”

Stalk Veronica on social media: Newsletter Signup Blog Twitter  Facebook

I’d like to thank Veronica for stopping by to visit and for her wonderful and fascinating post! I’d say she earned that degree and I can’t wait to read Song of the Nile! 

Perilously yours,

Pauline

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