Wednesday, June 10, 2009

An interview with author Michael F. Stewart

Today's special guest is Michael F. Stewart, author of an exciting supernatural thriller, 24 Bones. Welcome, Michael! Let the interrogation begin...

1. So, Michael, what’s 24 Bones about?

Every five hundred years the Phoenix returns to its home for rebirth. And every five hundred years the battle between Seth, Osiris, Isis and Horus is fought. The five hundred years is up.

Taggart Quinn is living in Toronto when he gets the call to return as a Companion of Horus. He refuses the call. Samiya Rush was abandoned to the Shemsu Seth as a child to be reared and trained for the coming confrontation in which she is to be Evil’s representative. She’s confused and alone. Two millennia before, the Companions and the Shemsu Seth stripped the Sisters of Isis of their powers – the Sisters want their powers back.

Competing interests, conspiracy, betrayal, and greed lead to humanity hanging in the balance of a final battle fought on Earth’s primordial mound.

2. Do you have a favorite minor character?

If I had to choose I’d pick Faris. Faris is a Watcher, one of those who wish to help the Companions of Horus, but didn’t pass the test to join. He’s pretty bitter about that, and this bitterness grows, ultimately making it difficult for him to love or be loved with disastrous consequences.

3. How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

My writing usually stems from research. 24 Bones for instance required me to have a fair understanding of Coptic Christianity and Egyptology. This necessitated that I read a lot of the translations of the original documents, such as the Papyrus of Ani and Pyramid Texts. This, combined with travel to Egypt to get a better sense of atmosphere, was the foundation for 24 Bones.

I did the research first and followed the construct of the myths, weaving Coptic Christian beliefs and a healthy dose of Jungian thought into the Egyptian versions. I tend to outline one Act ahead. So by the time I’m done Act 1, I have Act 2 detailed. If my characters are surprising me, I can be fairly confident that I’ll surprise the reader too.

4. Where did your characters come from?

Both Samiya and Taggart evolved, but when I think about it, they are in part who they are because of the situation of their back story. Both have had horrible childhoods, one in the service of evil and torn from her mother’s arms, the other disciplined mercilessly, branded by the Companions and then abused by the church. They change into the sort of people we either hope we never meet or the best of what humanity has to offer.

5. What's inside the mind of the supernatural thriller writer?

At least in my case, it’s an exploration of myth. Myth can come in a lot of forms. I’ve written a book about the MS-13, a brutal gang, but one which has deep ritual and mythology. But religion, whatever your belief, contains an awful lot of humanity. And writing is a way to illuminate the human condition as shown through the arc of your characters.

6. What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

Suspend the belief of your inner circle and follow your natural enthusiasm.

7. Do you have a website/blog where readers can learn more about you and your work?

Yes, ma’am, And here’s one to my publisher Drollerie Press where you can pick up many fine stories:

8. Anything else you'd like to say about yourself or your work?

My proceeds from 24 Bones will go to help the people of Zimbabwe.

Michael F Stewart is an Ottawa, Canada based author whose latest work is 24 BONES, a supernatural thriller set in present day Cairo, Egypt. In addition, Michael has published THE CALIPHATE under the pseudonym Jack Stewart, and has four graphic novels, which will be published this summer by Oxford Canada Press, and a thriller titled HURAKAN due out with Overmountain Press this fall.

Thank you, Michael, and on behalf of all the authors at The Write Type, I wish you every success. ~Cheryl Kaye Tardif

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