Frequently Asked Questions
How long did it take you to write The Dagger of Isis?
From start to finish, about eight months.
Where did the idea come from?
Once I had completed The First Pharaoh about King Narmer and his struggles to unite Upper and Lower Egypt into one lasting kingdom, I knew the tale wasn’t over. In my research and in visits to Egypt, I learned about an incredible woman, Meryt-Neith, who served as regent king for her son after the death of her husband. She was highly revered by her people and the power brokers since she was given a prominent tomb in a very holy place. I knew I had to tell her story.
Are the details all true?
While we know some things about Meryt-Neith’s life there was simply not enough detail around which I felt I could weave a compelling story. In a way that was a blessing, since I did not feel constrained by historical fact. This is, after all, historical fiction.
What kind of research did you do?
Of course, in researching and writing The First Pharaoh I had already done quite a bit of research. I have had the privilege of visiting Egypt before and actually seeing the sites about which I would eventually write.
I also did a great deal of reading and Internet research, corresponding with experts and actually visiting with experts like Dr. Toby Wilkinson of Cambridge University, England.
I’m an inveterate researcher and have to stop myself at some point in order to actually start writing.
Was Meryt-Neith real?
Most definitely so. She was real and respected. Her tomb is placed in such a way as to have access to a holy rift between two small desert mountains. This rift was considered a divine passage to the next life.
Meryt-Neith ruled for about 17 years, until her son was old enough to become King in his own right.
Was Wadjet (Djet) real?
Yes. He is recorded as a First Dynasty King and was buried in a tomb in Abydos. We also know his reign was short-lived and that Meryt-Neith succeeded him. The line of succession was Narmer, Hor-Aha, Djer (Wadjer), Djet (Wadjet), Meryt-Neith, Den (Wadjden).
What about Nubiti and Bakht?
Novelists have to conjure up characters to challenge our protagonists and spur them on to growth and great accomplishments. That was the genesis of Nubiti and Bakht. However, they are based on real characters, traits that are universal, and/or events that are in the historical record at some point in Egypt’s long and glorious history.
Surely Herihor was real?
Yes, no and maybe. It is certainly likely that all the early kings had a military chief to take care of armed struggles. This role became more formalized as Egypt matured. So, I extrapolated back from what we know from the historical record in later dynasties to my creation of the Herihor character.
Did women really enjoy certain rights in ancient Egypt?
That is absolutely true. Even from early times women had the right to initiate divorce, to run their own businesses, to inherit and disburse their assets. And these are only some of the rights enjoyed by women. That is not to say that women were viewed as equal to men, but they did have certain basic protections and legal rights.
I’d like to learn more about the First Dynasty period. Can you recommend some books and/or articles?
For those of you bitten by the bug that is ancient Egypt, I can assure you there is no cure. However, I recommend the following books as a starting point if you want to delve deeper into the topic.
Early Dynastic Egypt by Toby A. H. Wilkinson (Routledge, 1999).
Genesis of the Pharaohs by Toby Wilkinson (Thames & Hudson, 2003).
What Life Was Like On The Banks of the Nile by The Editors (Time-Life Books, undated).
Egypt Before the Pharaohs by Michael A. Hoffman (Barnes & Noble Books, 1993).
Chronicles of the Pharaohs by Peter A. Clayton (Thames & Hudson, 1994).
Bedouin Life in the Egyptian Wilderness by Joseph J. Hobbs (University of Texas Press, 1989).
Egyptian Women of the Old Kingdom by Henry George Fischer (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1989).
Egypt: The World of the Pharaohs, Edited by Regine Schulz and Matthias Seidel (Konemann Publishers, 2011)
I welcome your suggestions of other books to add to this list. Please write to me with the full citation. Please indicate if you wish me to use your name as the referring source.
If you have more questions about The Dagger of Isis please feel free to write me.