Happy Thursday fellow readers! I have another spotlight interview with author Maria Luisa Lang and her novel The Pharaoh’s Cat.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I was born in Rome, Italy, and live in New York City. I have a degree in art from the City University of New York, and my artwork has been exhibited in New York galleries.
I love all animals, but especially cats, and I’m an amateur Egyptologist.
Most of The Pharaoh’s Cat is set in ancient Egypt, but I also included my neighborhood–the Upper West Side–and other parts of the city. My sequel, The Eye of Nefertiti, is also set in ancient Egypt and New York City, but my cat goes to Bath, England, as well. I’ve spent a lot of time there and the beautiful Georgian city is one of my favorite places. When I was planning my sequel, I knew Bath would play a major part in it. The cat also time travels to ancient Stonehenge. I’ve visited the site and found it fascinating.
What inspired you to write?
I’ve sketched and painted, and writing seemed a natural extension. Writing seems to be in my blood. My mother wrote a memoir of her experiences in Rome during the war, and one of my brothers is a noted Italian art critic and the author of several books and numerous articles.
What inspired your novel?
My love of cats and my fascination with ancient Egypt. I also enjoy comedy and couldn’t resist the challenge to make ancient Egypt funny.
What is the genre?
Comedy, fantasy, historical fiction.
What draws you to this genre?
I can combine different elements that are familiar and important to me.
How did you develop your plot and your characters?
My protagonist came first, a stray cat in ancient Egypt who’s suddenly given human powers, then the two people who love him, the Pharaoh and the High Priest, and the ogre who hates him, the Vizier, the Pharaoh’s uncle. Out of their distinctive personalities came their relationships with one another, and the plot is the story of how those relationships evolved.
What inspired your protagonist?
All the cats I’ve ever known, and there have been many. I love and am fascinated by both cats and ancient Egypt. When I decided to write a novel, I couldn’t help creating an ancient Egyptian cat to be my hero. He’s also me in many ways. He has my sense of humor and my sense of justice.
What inspired your antagonist?
The Vizier, the Pharaoh’s uncle is my villain, and the first thing I reveal about him is that he hates cats. His hatred is the root of his villainy. Fortunately, I’ve never met anyone remotely like him. I invented him based on what I see as the worst in humanity.
What was the hardest part to write in the book?
Integrating information about ancient Egypt into the narrative without it sounding like something from a text book.
What was your favourite part of your book to write?
The Pharaoh’s death. The cat’s reaction showed unexpected psychological depths. I ended up admiring him even more.
Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?
Read, travel, go to flea markets and thrift shops. Not surprisingly, my cat visits a Bath flea market in my sequel.
What are you currently reading?
I’m re-reading Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog.
Who would you say are your favourite authors?
Kingley Amis and Mikhail Bulgakov
How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?
Amis’s Lucky Jim, Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog and The Master and Margarita, my mother’s memoir, any of Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford novels except the last.
What are your future projects, if any?
I’ll soon publish my sequel to The Pharaoh’s Cat–The Eye of Nefertiti.
(Published in November 2016 The Eye of Nefertiti– Leticia)
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Don’t try to please an imaginary reader. It will only inhibit you and your writing will reflect that.
Thank you to Maria Luisa Lang for the lovely spotlight interview. I do hope you, my fellow readers, seek out her novels!