On Saturday I attended an event in Liverpool, set up by Liverpool Libraries in partnership with the World Museum. The location was timely as some Central Library services have just moved on to the 2nd Floor of The World Museum, while their own building next door has closed for a major refurbishment.
Two Transworld published authors, Nick Drake and Paul Sussman,came along with their publicist Ben Willis to talk about their latest titles, both of which feature Ancient Egypt. The event was enhanced by the availability of Ancient Egyptian handling objects from the museum service.
Ben questioned both writers about their writing careers and their fascination with Ancient Egypt and gave them the opportunity to describe and read from their books. While both are passionate about the ancient past, their books and writing styles are very different which made for a lively discussion.
With a background in archaeology, and making his real living from Journalism Paul Sussman's title The Hidden Oasis links a contemporary suspense story with a mystery from the ancient past. Believable characters, fascinating history and an evocative sense of place - especially Cairo and the dry heat of the Sahara. There's nothing dry about the visceral violence and thrilling action scenes, however, and best of all is the terrifying secret at the heart of the story - The Hidden Oasis itself. Michael Cordy, author of The Messiah Code
As a real archaeologist and someone who still spends 2 months every year in Egypt, Paul's attention to detail and accuracy is impressive. He told us how he broke an arm in 5 places earlier this year while trying to obtain a photograph which would give him the detail he needs to give his writing authenticity.
Nick Drake's style is more reflective of his other life as a poet and winner of the Foward Prize for best first collection in 1999. At this event he was promoting his second novel to be set wholly in Ancient Egypt, Tutankhamun . While Tutankhamun is a name we all know from our limited awareness of Egyptian history, in reality little is known about this character beyond the wonderful artefacts which were found in his tomb. As in his first novel Nefertiti, Nick Drake has been blessed with the opportunity to invent plausible solutions to real mysteries, while using his poet's ear for language to convey his stories.
I brought both books away with me and am looking forward to reading them as soon as possible. This was a great example of how hearing writers speak about their work can inspire readers to want to read books they didn't know about before they arrived.
Both writers and audience alike took the opportunity to look at some of Liverpool's World Museum's fantastic Egyptology collection. Through this event the library service has strengthened its link with the Museum Service and given the current increasing public interest in history and archaeology, there will surely be other mutually appropriate events which could be arranged in the future.
Jane was the co-ordinator of Time To Read, a partnership of people working in public libraries in NW England, to develop the audience for reading.
She retired in August 2015 and is now very busy doing other things.