Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Interview with Lavender Ironside, author of The Sekhmet Bed

Many thanks to Lavender Ironside, who agreed to answer my questions after reading The Sekhmet Bed.


Lavender, you have a foreword where you discuss the relationship between the real Ahmose and Mutnofret. Can you detail more what the historical facts are about these women and what their relationship might have been?

  1. There are actually very few definite historical facts regarding the women of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, the era during which The Sekhmet Bed is set. Even many facts about Hatshepsut’s reign are less clear than details of later eras in Egyptian history. But early in the 18th Dynasty certainty about anything is elusive.

What historians can say with certainty is that Ahmose was a blood relative of Amunhotep, the Pharaoh who preceded Thutmose I on the throne. In ancient Egypt the right to the throne passed through the females of the family, not the males; a man was not considered truly king until he married a woman of the Pharaoh’s blood. In this way, even commoners could be legitimate kings if they could only secure a marriage to a Pharaoh’s female relation, and this seems to be exactly what happened to Thutmose I. He was a highly regarded soldier who would later use his military prowess to expand Egypt’s borders to the north and south, until Egypt grew larger than it had ever been in all its previous history. (Later, his grandson Thutmose III would expand the borders still further, to Egypt’s greatest size in its entire history!) Thutmose I was the son of a woman who was not nobility – a commoner, we might way – and his father is unknown, but very possibly was also a commoner. Thutmose’s only access to the throne was via Ahmose.

So certainly Ahmose was directly related to Amunhotep, but whether she was a sister, a cousin, or a daughter is unknown.

Mutnofret’s ancestry is far less certain. There are, as yet, no historical records detailing when Thutmose married her. She may have been his wife before he took the throne, or she may have been a second wife he took after marrying Ahmose. Mutnofret is depicted in Egyptian art as a queen, not a concubine, so it is likely that she was a co-queen with Ahmose; and although I am not an Egyptologist, it seems implausible to me that an existing commoner wife would be allowed to ascend to the lofty heights of co-queen. Therefore, I think it’s likely that Mutnofret was also of royal blood, though I have no concrete proof. Mutnofret was definitely the mother of Thutmose II, and it seems very probable to me that she was also the mother of at least one of Thutmose’s other sons, Wadjmose. I believe this to be so because Mutnofret is depicted with Wadjmose on the walls of Thutmose’s mortuary temple, which seems to indicate (to me, at least) that she is his biological mother.

But were Ahmose and Mutnofret sisters? It’s extremely unlikely. I think cousins to be more likely, but a sister relationship between the two women added much more dramatic tension to my fiction!

  1. What gave you the idea to write this story, this era?

    I set out to write a novel about Hatshepsut, but the more I researched her, the more fascinated I became with a mural on her temple wall which seems to suggest (probably just for political reasons, not because anybody really believed it) that the god Amun took the form of Pharaoh Thutmose I and impregnated Queen Ahmose; thus, Hatshepsut was claiming literal descent from the gods. I thought there was an interesting story in that mural, so I began pursuing it and eventually came up with the overall plot for The Sekhmet Bed.

  2. Without giving spoilers, what was the most difficult part of writing this book? How long did it take you?

    I did about two years of research into the 18th Dynasty. Once I’d gathered enough information to write a plausible historical novel, I wrote the book very quickly – in three months, in fact, working every day after I came home from the zoo (I was working as a keeper at the time.) I spent about three more months revising and editing it.

The most difficult part was definitely the bit near the end, where the gods begin their punishment of the character that disobeys them. I have to admit that I often cried while writing those scenes!

  1. Are you launching directly into the sequel, and if so, will it focus on Ahmose again, or on one of the other characters? (I’m asking specifically because of the departure scene at the end of the book, but I’m trying really hard to be specific without giving spoilers. LOL)

    I just finished up another, unrelated novel I’ve spent the last two years working on. I’m so relieved to have it wrapped up. Now that it’s done, I can turn back to the sequel, which is written but needs serious revision. The second book focuses on the relationship Ahmose has with her daughter Hatshepsut, and as the novel progresses it becomes more about Hatshepsut and less about Ahmose.

There is a third book planned, too, which details the relationship between Hatshepsut and her own daughter, Neferura. I really plan to take some liberties with probable history in that one…may Amun spare me from the wrath of angry Egyptophiles!

  1. I know the novel is available in paperback via Createspace.com. Where else will readers find it?

    The paperback version is not quite ready for readers. I am still tweaking the cover, and it’s giving me fits. However, I think I may have it this time, and if my latest proof copy looks good I’ll finally give readers access to the paperback. I will know in a few days whether the paperback is ready – I hope to make it available by the end of May.

In the meantime, readers can buy the Kindle version for $5.99 on Amazon.com and all ebook formats, including Kindle, on Smashwords.com for $5.99. The trade paperback, when it’s ready, will be available on Createspace and on Amazon, and it will cost $15.00.

Readers who want the latest news regarding my books, including when the paperback will be officially released, should follow my blog (link below!)

Thanks for having me, Victoria!

Lavender Ironside is the author of The Sekhmet Bed and its upcoming sequels. Lavender can be reached at http://lavenderironside[dot]blogspot[dot]com or by email at lavironside[at]gmail[dot].com