Fiona Ingram’s earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, she entertained her three younger brothers and their friends with serialised tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. Haunted houses, vampires, and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favourites in the cast of characters.
Although Fiona Ingram has been involved in the theatre and journalism, writing a children’s book–The Secret of the Sacred Scarab–was an unexpected step, inspired by a family trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for her two nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into a children’s book, the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone. The second book in the series–The Search for the Stone of Excalibur–a huge treat for young King Arthur fans, is now available with Book 3, The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper, on the way. Although Fiona Ingram does not have children of her own, she has an adopted daughter, from an underprivileged background who has discovered the joys of reading for pleasure.
Naturally, Fiona is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films. She loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). She has travelled widely and fulfilled many of her travel goals.
Fiona Ingram was born and educated in South Africa, and has worked as a full-time journalist and editor. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel has resulted in the multi award winning The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—Chronicles of the Stone. Fiona has recently completed the second book entitled The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, a treat for young King Arthur fans. She is busy with Book 3 entitled The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.
What makes you proud to be a writer from South Africa? For many people, including many South Africans, being off the beaten track, so to speak, can be limiting in one’s reach – especially when trying to make an impact in the world of writing. Being published in the USA as well as Japan, and soon China is something any writer can be proud of.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? We always had books in the house, my parents were both readers, and since South Africa only got television in 1976, when you were bored, your parents usually said, “Go read a book!” Books have been a big part of my life since I can remember learning to read, and I think that was the inspiration.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? Actually I’ve been published for years as a free-lance journalist, but writing and getting a book published only happened a few years ago when I went to Egypt with my mom and my two young nephews, and decided to write a short story for them about our trip. The short story became a book which became a book series.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? Both environment and upbringing played a big part in my writing. I used to write plays for my brothers and me to act out for my long suffering parents. I also made up ghost stories for my younger brothers and their friends to entertain them. We had so many books that it was impossible not to love reading. Writing was a natural next step.
Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? I came back from Egypt, took a pen and writing pad one evening, sat and thought for a bit, and then wrote The Secret of the Sacred Scarab in red pen across the first page. That was how it began – the title first.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? I write Middle Grade fiction and although I also write historical romance under a pseudonym (Arabella Sheraton) and animal rescue stories, I love Middle Grade adventure. My young nephews fell into that age bracket when we went to Egypt and I think their awe and wonder at seeing the ancient splendour of Egypt, their excitement, how they found each day an adventure really struck me. This is the best time for kids, to learn, explore, and enjoy. I hope my books reflect that.
What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for? My first book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, was inspired by our trip to Egypt and the heroes by my two young nephews. The second book, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, is the continuation of the adventure and came about because by the time I’d finished the first book, I realised my young heroes had not saved the world yet. There was still more adventure to be had.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? Actually seeing the story and characters come to life, seeing each book completed, and planning the next one.
Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? I think every journey has some negative aspects. The only negative thing was when I sent out my first manuscript to 35 British agents, thinking in my total naivety that I would be hailed as the next JK Rowling. What a letdown when 33 wrote back (many just the standard rejection letter) to say no thanks, but two replied to me personally, said I could definitely write, and I should persevere. So I did.
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? Winning book awards and having people tell me how much they or their kids loved my book! Having my book published in other countries like Japan and soon China.
Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? When I first started out I made mistakes through sheer ignorance and spent far too much money on the wrong kind of marketing. Better luck second time around. I think I have honed my marketing plans.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? One thing new authors tend to ignore or think is not that important is having a superbly polished product. That is the biggest mistake ever. Make sure, above all else, that your manuscript reaches the highest standards of the publishing industry. Pay for a top editor, someone who has your interests at heart; don’t cling to the bits you love, listen to an expert who knows how a book should read – fluently and fluidly with no errors.
Who is your favorite author and why? I have so many books and I enjoy so many authors that I can’t actually choose one. But if I had to share the title of one brilliant book it would be The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. It has intrigue, murder, mystery, great plot development, superb character development, interesting plot devices, multiple points of view, and is just a totally satisfying read.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us? The biggest challenge facing authors today is feeling (quite rightly) that they will never make a dent in the industry, that their books will never be discovered, and wondering are they wasting their time writing. If a book is well written, with an intriguing plot and compelling characters, then it will be discovered. It might take a little longer, but most ‘overnight successes’ took a lot longer than overnight, even the Big Name Authors Writers must never sit back once a book is out there. Do something every day to spread the word about your book, either online or by word of mouth. Even if it is just one Tweet. And in the meantime, carry on with your books; keep on writing.
How many published books do you have? As a Middle Grade author I have two in my adventure series with the third one pending (and more on the way). As a romance novelist, I have seven books. As an animal book author I have two books.
Other Titles by Fiona Ingram (and pen name Arabella Sheraton)
Champ: My Story of Survival
Historical Regency Romance Box Set: 4 Authentic Regency Romance Novels
Lord Blackwood’s Valentine Ball: An Authentic Regency Romance
Married at Midnight: An Authentic Regency Romance
Miss Dashwood’s Dilemma: An Authentic Regency Romance
The Dangerous Duke: An Authentic Regency Romance
The Lady’s Revenge: An Authentic Regency Romance
The Poppy Project: How Fiji’s Most Famous Dog Got Saved
The Reluctant Bridegroom: An Authentic Regency Romance
The Wayward Miss Wainwright: An Authentic Regency Romance
The romances are all clean historical so no muddling of the waters
with adult themes that clash with my MG adventures.
Let The Adventure Begin
A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life in this exciting Middle Grade adventure set in Egypt!
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 learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. 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!
The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is the kind of adventure book boys and girls love!
The fast-paced action, the evil villain readers delight in hating, the secrets of the past, and the mysterious ancient setting make this novel a sure-hit favorite for all the young and adventurous at heart.
Ingram’s impeccable and fascinating research into Egyptian history illuminates the adventure and makes the secrets of Egypt’s past as thrilling to the reader as the boys’ dangerous encounters.
Book Genre: Middle Grade fiction (juvenile fiction)
A Young Explorer’s Companion Guide For Book One
Is Available As A Free Download
Book Award Nominations & Wins for The Secret of the Sacred Scarab
Finalist Children’s Fiction 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
Finalist Juvenile Fiction 2009 National Best Books Awards
Winner Pre-Teen 2009 Readers’ Favorite Awards
No: 2 in the USA Children’s & Teens Book Connection Top Ten Favorite Books of 2009 for Kids, Tweens & Teens
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 Children’s Fiction 2011 Rubery Book Awards
Winner Gold Award Mystery Pre-Teen 2011 Children’s Literary Classics Awards
2nd Place in the 2011 YA Sharpwrit Book Awards
Gold Medal 2013 Wise Bear Book Awards Winner
A family holiday with Aunt Isabel and Gran to Egypt ignites cousins Adam and Justin’s quest for teenage adventure when a peddler who was showing the boys his wares, gives Adam several scarabs when he notices police. Unbeknownst to the boys, one of the scarabs has mystical importance in Egyptian mythology. With the scarabs stored away in Adam’s rucksack, their imagination tells them that there is treasure to be found.
With Eleven Book Award Nominations & Wins, enjoy outstanding story telling with realistic dialog that will draw middle grade and young adult readers into this action, adventure packed, suspenseful, historical fiction that rivals Indiana Jones. Boys will be boys and soon trouble will find them. Careful not to spoil the story, I quote a passage to whet your appetite.
“Quick as a flash, they dashed behind a marble pillar, trying to smother their giggles. “Now what?” Adam said.
Justin grabbed his arm. “I noticed a room leading away from the main hall. It was full of boxes and crates. The lights were off so no one was in there. Let’s go back and see if we can find something interesting.”
They retraced their steps to the small display hall Justin had seen. It contained several cabinets holding statues, and a few stone sarcophagi. Stacks of boxes and wooden crates lined the far wall. They wandered around, looking at the Arabic-inscribed labels and trying to guess what was inside the boxes. It wasn’t long before the sound of echoing footsteps sent them scuttling behind a large sarcophagus.
Two men walked in, speaking Arabic in low voices. Over the next few minutes, the voices floated around the room and then right past Adam and Justin’s hiding place, before finally disappearing near the back. After a moment of silence, they looked at each other, puzzled, and then listened a bit longer to make sure the men had gone. Then they peeked above the sarcophagus to check that the coast was clear before creeping out. They both looked toward the back of the room, where the voices had disappeared.
Adam pointed to a door standing ajar. The door was labeled with an Arabic inscription. “What do you think it says?” he asked, as they walked quietly to the door, giving occasional sideways glances to check they were still alone.
“Um … I have no idea,” Justin said. “It’s probably a notice for the museum staff. That door looks like a fire escape. I think those men we heard went down there.”
Justin pushed the door all the way open. A set of stone steps disappeared into inky darkness. If the men had gone through the door, then there was only one way to go—down.
Frightened and excited, they hesitated on the top step, unsure of whether to investigate.
Justin turned to Adam. “We should follow and see what they’re up to, but you know we’ll get into the worst kind of trouble if we’re caught.”
Adam gave a nervous nod.
Justin grinned. “Then let’s go. We just have to risk it.”
The Secret Of The Sacred Scarab (The Chronicles Of The Stone Series Book One) by Fiona Ingram is well researched. The book cover art and nine exquisite hand drawn graphics within the book are by South African Artist Lori Bentley.
Thirty-four riveting chapters packed with adventure will keep you turning the pages. Author Fiona Ingram continues the history lessons at the end of the book with a Readers’ Guide to Ancient Egypt that includes “Endnotes that will help book-lovers enjoy the story even more while reading. This additional material will increase your knowledge of the world of ancient Egypt, and help you uncover the meaning of the Stone of Fire and the secret of the sacred scarab. In this glossary, you’ll be able to look up information on words or ideas that you read about in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab. It will add to your enjoyment of Adam and Justin’s incredible adventure because there are clues everywhere!”
Cold Coffee Press/Café endorses The Secret Of The Sacred Scarab (The Chronicles Of The Stone Series Book One) by Fiona Ingram as a fictional story illuminated with history that brings Egypt to life for young readers. This first book in The Chronicles Of The Stone Series should be included on summer reading program book lists. The Search for the Stone of Excalibur (The Chronicles Of The Stone Series Book Two) is also available at Amazon. We reviewed this book from Kindle/PDF format. The review was completed on January 24, 2016. For more information please visit Cold Coffee Press http://www.coldcoffeepress.com and Cold Coffee Café http://coldcoffeecafe.com/
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The Second Adventure Begins
A modern day adventure as our protagonists search for Excalibur and the treasures it holds!
This is a must-read for Middle Graders keen on action, adventure, and Arthurian stories!
Continuing the adventure that began in Egypt a few months prior in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair are hot on the trail of the second Stone of Power, one of seven ancient stones lost centuries ago. This stone might be embedded in the hilt of a newly discovered sword that archeologists believe belonged to King Arthur: Excalibur.
However, their long-standing enemy, Dr. Khalid, is following them as they travel to Scotland to investigate an old castle. Little do they know there is another deadly force, the Eaters of Poison, who have their own mission to complete.
Time is running out as the confluence of the planets draws closer. Can Justin and Adam find the second Stone of Power and survive? And why did Aunt Isabel send a girl with them?
Join Justin and Adam as they search not only for the second Stone of Power, but also for the Scroll of the Ancients, a mysterious document that holds important clues to the Seven Stones of Power.
As their adventure unfolds, they learn many things and face dangers that make even their perils in Egypt look tame. And how annoying for them that their tag-along companion, Kim, seems to have such good ideas when they are stumped.
Book Genre: Middle grade (juvenile fiction)
The second adventure begins with more twist and turns, plots within plots, mystery and secrets, danger and villains for teens and young adult readers to enjoy.
Our young cousin heroes Adam and Justin Sinclair received this letter and the secret implied is deafening: “Dear Adam and Justin,” James wrote. “I hope you’re both ready for some action because things have been happening faster than I’d expected. I think the second Stone of Power has been discovered, but I can’t say more. I’ve enclosed your air tickets. I’m sure Isabel will persuade your parents that an educational trip to Scotland will be just the thing to fill your July vacation. Looking forward to seeing you both. Your friend, James.”
With their trip secured and the blessings of their parents, Adam and Justin wait at the airport for their Aunt Isabel to chaperone them to Scotland. “Surrounded by their luggage in the departure lounge of Johannesburg Airport, Adam and Justin Sinclair stood with their mouths open, staring at their Aunt Isabel racing toward them, frantic. She had an African girl with her and clutched the child firmly by one hand.”
What teen boy wants a girl tagging along, getting in the way? After all we are talking about real danger here with “Dark Ages warfare and weaponry”, the real “World of King Arthur”, secrets and mysteries surrounding “Strathairn Castle”, ancient writings, dusty museums, tombs and the “six Stones of Power before the confluence of the planets”.
Here is tease from the book: “The weather had changed while they were in the museum. Slate-gray storm clouds darkened the sky and it began to rain hard. As large pelting drops chilled their faces and slid down their necks, they turned up their jacket collars and dashed back in the direction of the flower shop.
Kim suddenly stopped. “What’s that noise?”
Justin and Adam stopped as well. A faint scrabbling noise came from an alley where garbage lay in heaps.
Adam pointed to a trashcan. “Rats.”
Kim shook her head. “No, it was a squeaking noise.”
“Rats squeak,” said Justin with exaggerated patience. “It must be coming from that pile of trash.”
“This was more like a puppy or a kitten squeaking,” Kim said, walking determinedly up to the trashcan.
Justin and Adam rolled their eyes at each other behind her back, but they followed her. Girls. Once they had some idea in their heads, they didn’t give up.
Kim peered behind the trashcan at a small pile of garbage. “There’s something here,” she cried. “I can see an animal.”
“Don’t touch it,” Justin advised her. “It might have a disease.”
Kim ignored him. Crooning softly, she crouched down and pulled away some pieces of soggy newspaper. Underneath the paper lay a small, shivering mound.
“Look, a dog.”
“Be careful—” Adam began to say, but he was too late.”
Eleven strategically placed exquisite hand drawn illustrations by South African artist Lori Bentley bring the story, dialog and characters to life.
Author Fiona Ingram dedicates her Chronicles Of The Stone series “For Young Explorers Everywhere, and for anyone who has ever dreamed of saving the world.”
The author provides detailed, educational information about King Arthur and Excalibur in the back of the book. For a broader educational experience author Fiona Ingram provides ‘The Young Explorer’s Companion-The Official Illustrated Guide to The Search for the Stone of Excalibur: Chronicles of the Stone Book 2’ as a free download on her website. http://www.chroniclesofthestone.com/
Cold Coffee Press/Café endorses The Search For The Stone Of Excalibur (The Chronicles Of The Stone Series Book Two) by Fiona Ingram as a fictional story illuminated with history and facts that brings the days of King Arthur to life for young readers. The Chronicles Of The Stone Series should be included in summer reading program book lists and in all libraries. We reviewed this book from Kindle/PDF format. The review was completed on February 4, 2016. For more information please visit Cold Coffee Press http://www.coldcoffeepress.com and Cold Coffee Café http://coldcoffeecafe.com/
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