My Jewelry Box vs. King Tut’s

One thing the ancient Egyptians really did right was the jewelry – colorful, big, beautiful. Although I don’t have the elegant swan neck of Nefertiti, which my mother always declared was essential for wearing anything other than button earrings, I decided early on that earrings were going to be my signature style element. Hey, at 5’ 2 ¼” the swan neck was not happening so I figured I might as well enjoy myself. (Mother was not always right either, not about men or about jewelry!)

The longer and more fabulous the earrings, the better! I still have the first  pair I ever bought, at Penneys in the 1960’s – enameled blue tulips.  By the 1980’s I had discovered a brand by the odd name of Banana Bob and fell in love with them. (BBob as it’s known among We The Earring Obssessed.) I would allow myself one new pair a payday back then and spend at least an hour deciding between the available pieces.  The company is sadly long out of business, although you can find the earrings on eBay (and I do search them out, believe me!). The earrings are usually thematic, with color and charms, anywhere from 2-4”. I never got my ears pierced (that pesky maternal influence again) but I learned how to adapt pierced earrings to clip style and was good to go.

Complete strangers will stop me to compliment my earrings. One supervisor at work told me his entire department had a bet going on how long it would be before they saw me wear the same pair of earrings twice. A friend teased me at her baby shower that she’d expected me to give her unborn child earrings, not onesies. Irony of ironies? Neither of my daughters is into long earrings! No granddaughters as yet either.

I’ve never found another company that can satisfy my craving for chandelier fashion jewelry earrings the way BBob did, although Lunchattheritz comes close with some of theirs.  I guess I like the idea of wearing something unique. I know I love the tiny charms and detailed elements of the BBob earrings.

But nothing modern day can match the grandeur of my favorite pair of winged earrings from King Tut’s tomb – gold, blue glass, faience, beads,cloisonné, incredible attention to detail (the king’s portrait is painted on the fastenings) – I would give anything to wear them for even a minute. Wouldn’t that be amazing?  I’d get my ears pierced for that.  They’re over four inches long and more than 3000 years old…maybe I can’t ever wear them, but I guarantee one of my Tales of the Nile heroines will have them in her jewelry box!

(My oldest daughter took all these earring pictures for me–except the King Tut ones–and when I opened my email I found another picture had been sent along with them…do you think somebody was feeling ignored?)

Farewell to a Special Actor: Andy Whitfield, Spartacus: Blood and Sand

I was so sad to read of the passing of Welsh actor Andy Whitfield, gone so young at age 39 from cancer.  He was the primary reason I watched the STARZ series Spartacus – his tremendous, subtle and shaded acting made the character real to me. The series itself was a lot grittier than anything I normally watch. As we say in my house, I watched a lot of it with my eyes closed! But I couldn’t stay away from the believable portrayal Mr. Whitfield gave of a man in terrible conditions maintaining his dignity, staying true to his inner compass and evolving into the earliest stages of becoming a legend. (Netflix, you should thank him for getting me hooked on your streaming services!) Not to detract in the least from the performances given by the other wonderful members of the cast… I am sorry we won’t get to see where he would have taken the character next, or what other roles he would have embodied. My sincere condolences to his wife and very young children.

Why Egypt?

Why am I so attracted to setting my stories in a paranormal version of ancient Egypt?

Two historical novels were a big influence on me when I was young – Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw and Shadow Hawk by Andre Norton. I loved the idea of times past and the exciting things that happened to people then.

And then one day I stood by the side of King Tutankhamen’s sarcophagus, gazing down into the eyes of the boy king, as depicted in the amazing golden mask…Years ago when things were much less formal, my employer at the time was a major sponsor of the King Tutankhamen traveling exhibit and I got to spend an hour virtually alone in the museum. Obviously I wasn’t allowed to touch anything, not with burly guards at every turn, but I could literally stand right next to the items and look my fill, unimpeded by plexiglass.

The golden funerary objects were stunning but I was equally fascinated by the everyday possessions and furniture in the exhibit, all created with fanciful and amusing details. Everything I saw spoke to me eloquently of the ancient Egyptian people who believed so fiercely in their gods and the promised Afterlife. I had the feeling of stepping back in time for a moment.

And the jewelry! Can we just say I craved all of it?

So when I’m writing about my characters, I can close my eyes and put myself back in that museum room, surrounded by the actual trappings of ancient Egyptian life.

I’m irresistibly drawn to their pantheon of gods, each with so many aspects and unique characteristics, some anchored to one specific place and time, others more universally worshiped. It’s intriguing as an author to imagine how these Great Ones of Egypt would interact with the characters, from Pharaoh to the lowliest baker’s apprentice. What if all the things the Egyptians believed were true? What if you could find yourself singing for the Crocodile God or fighting alongside Horus the Falcon? Receiving advice and comfort from Hathor? Being judged by Lady Ma’at and Anubis? Petitioning Osiris and Isis for help?

And the adventures – and romance – begin there….