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Thursday, 24 May 2012

Hatshepsut Project meets "Truth is the Soul of the Sun" author, Maria Isabel Pita

Truth is the Soul of the Sun - A Biographical Novel of Hatshepsut-MaatkareIn a rare and exciting opportunity- it is my great pleasure to introduce and welcome Maria Isabel Pita to the Hatshepsut Project.
Maria is the author of "Truth is the Soul of the Sun" (CreateSpace, 2009) a biographical novel on the life of Hatshepsut. 

Background on Maria: 
Maria Isabel Pita was born in Havana, Cuba, but grew up in Fairfax, Virginia. Reading, writing and history have been her abiding passions ever since she can remember. In college she majored in World History and minored in English Literature and Cultural Anthropology. Since then she has travelled extensively and authored critically acclaimed paranormal, contemporary and historical romances in addition to the historical epic Truth is the Soul of the Sun-A Biographical Novel of Hatshepsut-Maatkare and the best-selling Kindle Single A Concise Guide to Ancient Egypt's Magic and Religion. Her dream-related articles have been published in the Lucid Dream Exchange, in which she was also interviewed by Robert Waggoner.

About the Novel:
 A description of the novel can be found on Amazon. The description is itself written by Maria. I asked Maria to provide a separate description for this post. In her own words:

M: "Truth" is a fictional biography, meaning I did everything in my power to incorporate all known facts about Hatshepsut while writing a novel. It has more than 100 footnotes, and my husband said it was like having a graduate student in the house working on their dissertation. I hope you will read the book; it will be interesting to see what you think of my "interpretation" of many things, especially the bigger mysteries. As any novelist knows, at a certain point the characters take over and the writer must do as they say! For me, Hatshepsut's story is told. The book begins with her birth and ends shortly after her death (yes, you read that correctly) However, should some astonishing piece of information come to light, who knows, I might revisit it, or even concentrate on one particular time in her life in even more intimate detail.

I (Stuart) began my own research into Hatshepsut, around four years ago. As I’ve progressed, I have seen the difficulties in resurrecting the reign of Hatshepsut, due to the very many gaps we have in archaeology. It is these areas which have given birth to many ideas, opinions, theories and occasionally wild sweeping generalisations of Hatshepsut. 

My own choice of Hatshepsut as the dominant focus of my research is something which came about through my only visit to Egypt. Studying the photographs my wife and I took at Karnak and Hatshepsut's temple led to an interest which is still growing to this day.

With Maria momentarily at my side, I had the opportunity of finding out a bit about her own research into Hatshepsut and why she chose Hatshepsut out of the many ancient Pharaohs at her disposal.

S: To begin with, I would love to know the answer to a question I asked myself in my first ever blog post: "Hatshepsut, why is she so special?"

M: It took me more than 500 pages to answer that question! I think the real question is "What isn't special about Hatshepsut?" Not only was she the most powerful female ruler of ancient Egypt, or anywhere else for that matter, she was also one of the greatest pharaohs. I had always resented Cleopatra for hogging the spotlight when Maatkare was much more powerful and profoundly more interesting than this decadent descendant of one of Alexander's generals. I suppose that's one of the reasons I wanted to write about Hatshepsut, who was also, for such a pathetically long time, relegated by old school patriarchal Egyptologists to "wicked stepmother who stole her nephew's kingship and hogged all the credit."
S: Were there any other influences in your choice of Hatshepsut?

M: A Smithsonian Magazine article summing up the truth about Hatshepsut as expressed by all the evidence to date, and collected into a travelling exhibition, was the trigger. My mother had mailed me a copy and I'll never forget the evening I was working on my computer with the magazine--the cover of which featured a photo of the smiling female king's face--sitting on another desk beside me. I kept glancing at it until finally I just stopped typing and just stared at her smiling face, mesmerized by her expression and all I seemed to feel it communicating to me. Then I said out loud, "Oh no! I'm not going to write about you! I can't! I can't..." but already I knew hers was the story I had to tell. I really didn't feel equal to the task, I mean, what the heck did I know about being a queen or a pharaoh! I had always intended to write about a priestess of Hathor, but it turns out Hatshepsut was also a priestess; the more I read about her the more I realized she was a visionary, a truly exceptional individual. 

S: "What can you say of your research? Who were your research inspirations and were there any specific works you studied more than most?"

M: The project took more than three years, including an entire year of detailed research before I even began writing, and then of course the research went on as I continued discovering intriguing information which always appeared, with magical synchronicity, during key moments in the story. The novel includes a list of my principal references. The following is an example of the references specifically about Hatshepsut:
  • ·         Hatchepsut – The Female Pharaoh, Joyce Tyldesley, Penguin Books 1998, Copyright J.A. Tyldesley, 1996.
  • ·         Hatshepsut – From Queen to Pharaoh, Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Edited by Catharine H. Roehrig, with Renee Dreyfus & Cathleen A. Keller, Copyright 2005 by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE.
  • ·         The Tomb of Hatshopsitu, Theodore M. Davis, First Published in 1906 by Archibald Constable & Co., Ltd., reprinted in 2004 by Gerald Duckworth & Co., Ltd. Foreword Copyright 2004 by Nicholas Reeves
  • ·         Osirisnet.net, The Red Chapel of Hatshepsut Reconstructed
I (Stuart) look forward to obtaining my own copy of “Truth is the Soul of the Sun” to see how Maria tackles such subjects as Senenmut (lover?), Thutmose III (persecution of Hatshepsut) and other such troublesome and much discussed/ debated elements of Hatshepsut’s life and memory.

Thank you to Maria for sharing your time with me. Once I read the novel for myself, I will follow up with later post to share my thoughts. For now, Amazon again provides us with a glimpse of what we may experience:

Reviews on Amazon:
·         "For those who love Egyptian history this biographical novel is a treasure trove... a work that pulls together the fragments of knowledge about a phenomenal queen into one significant survey."

·         “I love historical fiction—that is to say, I like my history told in an entertaining and engaging way—and this book accomplishes that in spades.”

·         “In this age of writing that gets a reader interested with the hook and then fades as the chapters start to drag on, this book is the opposite.”

·         “I recommend this book for other "travellers" who wish from the books they read not so much to be amused as to be amazed and delighted by a trip to another world.”
Fur further information on Maria, see below:

Maria’s Websites:
·         http://www.mariaisabelpita.com
·         http://ancientomnivore.com
Regards,
Stuart

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