The title of this post is a not-so-clever way to say I’m taking the month of December off from blogging. Back in February, I spent a few weeks in Egypt writing my neo-pulp detective novel The Case of the Purloined Pyramid, which recently won the Kindle Scout contest. It’s coming out soon and I’m using part of my advance to head on back to Cairo to write the next one, The Case of the Shifting Sarcophagus.
I’ll be seeing friends, hopefully making new ones, helping a colleague with his fascinating book proposal, and visiting some sights. Mostly I’ll be wandering around the old medieval neighborhood, where one of my heroes has his antiquities shop. Nothing like walking the actual streets to get the old brain pan bubbling!
On the left is the anthropoid coffin of Wenmontu, of the 22nd or 23rd dynasty (944-716 BC). To the right is the coffin of Mesiset, late 22nd to early 25th dynasty (c. 750 BC). These are in the archaeological museum of Bologna, which has an excellent Etruscan collection I wrote about in a previous post. Photo copyright Sean McLachlan.
I’m stepping out of the blogosphere for the next couple of weeks to do a writing retreat in Cairo. As Black Gate regulars know, I usually go to Tangier, but now that my Tangier novel is out, I’m changing location to work on a new project.
It’s a neo-pulp adventure novel tentatively titled The Masked Man of Cairo: The Case of the Purloined Pyramid and follows the adventures of a disfigured World War One veteran turned antiquities dealer who gets tangled up in the machinations of the Thule Society in 1919. And yes, a pyramid really was stolen from Giza! Well, sort of.
Hello again, Black Gate readers! You may have noticed that I dropped off the blog, and indeed the rest of the Internet, for all of October. You did notice, didn’t you? You didn’t? Well, I was gone. I spent the entire month on a writing retreat in Tangier, Morocco. I’ve written about visiting Tangier before on this blog, but this time I decided to dedicate a longer time in the city to some writing. My current project, The Last Hotel Room, is a novel set in contemporary Tangier, and I thought it a perfect opportunity to try out my own version of a writing retreat.
Through local contacts I was able to rent a house in the medina, the old historic quarter. My house was a traditional building of northern Morocco — two stories and a rooftop terrace surrounding an airshaft topped with glass. Sunlight and ventilation came courtesy of the airshaft, the only other windows being small ones in the downstairs kitchen and upstairs kitchenette. The interior was cleverly designed so that each room felt open to the sunlight from the airshaft while remaining out of view of the other rooms, providing openness and privacy at the same time.
This sort of architecture has an unusual acoustic effect. Noises next door and on the street just outside sound like they’re coming from inside the house. Your neighbor’s door opening sounds like your door opening. It’s a bit weird at first, but it never makes you nervous because your house is a fort. Doors are made of metal and secured with heavy bolts. The airshaft has a cage-like barrier to keep people from dropping in unannounced. My two windows were both well above street level and protected with iron bars.