The problem, of course, is that setting all your novels in the same locale gets boring, both for the writer and
Any foreign city is a challenge to describe for an American writer. Small details really do count for authenticity. I still remember reading one of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels and noting Fleming’s description of how his spy turned on a water faucet in Turkey and watched as it spat out an insect. In my case, I focused on some of the unique cultural aspects of Egypt. As an example, I described a bowab, a man responsible for handling the day-to-day needs of apartment dwellers. I also described specific Egyptian delicacies that Olivia was likely to enjoy.
When it came to the city itself, I used several guidebooks as well as maps to describe modern Cairo and its unique neighborhoods. One area of the city, for example, is occupied by people who bring home garbage and sort through the mounds of garbage in search of anything valuable. In another Cairo neighborhood, very poor people (it’s all relative in Cairo) are squatters in the many mausoleums found there. Olivia has a horrifying experience as she tries to find her way through that area.
My wife and I were fortunate enough to visit Cairo during one of her vacations. I still have vivid memories of the city. One fascinating detail I noted at the time and later incorporated into the novel is that Egyptians are taxed when a building is completed; as a result, many buildings are in a constant state of construction. I never have seen so many buildings that were occupied while clearly unfinished.
A city and its people can’t be plucked out of the air without writing about its history. Michael Connelly does a fantastic job in his novels of describing historic Los Angeles buildings and events. Similarly, I wanted to give my readers a sense of Egypt’s history. I have always loved Egyptian history, so doing some additional research wasn’t a tough task. Olivia’s father, an archaeologist and lover of all things Egyptian, was a natural vehicle for adding historical elements to the novel. In addition, I described Olivia as a girl who very much wants to become an Egyptologist like her father. Her knowledge of all things Egyptian, including hieroglyphics, helps her save herself as well as others when she travels under the Sphinx. I also researched several Egyptian cults over the centuries, and incorporated that element into the plot.
Of course history can only take a writer so far. I’ve always loved the theory that refugees from Atlantis influenced the early Egyptians, so I incorporated that paranormal element into the novel along with Edgar Cayce’s descriptions of a “Hall of Records” that is supposedly buried under the Sphinx.
I hope readers enjoy Egypt Rising find my description of Cairo adds to their feeling that they really are visiting that city. As far as the paranormal elements of the novel, they may help answer a question that long has stumped historians who focus on ancient Egypt.
Who is Stan Schatt?Stan Schatt is interested in almost everything. He’s been an autopsy assistant, a law enforcement administrator, an English professor, a software trainer, a network manager, a retail store manager, and an industry analyst—just to name some of his careers. He taught at Tokyo University as a Fulbright professor and received citations for outstanding teaching from the University of Southern California and DeVry Institute of Technology.
Schatt has written thirty books on subjects ranging from green careers and telecommunications to law enforcement and Afro-American culture. He holds a PhD in English from the University of Southern California, an MBA from the Thunderbird School of International Management, and a BA in Chemistry from Arizona State University. He now devotes himself full-time to writing novels.