ABOUT HERBERT SMITH
The first two books are travel memoirs, and The Great Sphinx Of Amun-Ra is a novel set in ancient as well as modern Egypt. It is a time-travel kind of experience, placing readers in pre-history as well as Cairo in 2012, which he knows well.
Smith has been a teacher since 1968, working in the U.S. as well as abroad. His subject as well as his interest is English Language, and he has taught primarily in Colleges and Universities preparing international students for academic work in English.
Other disciplines that attract his attention are music and history. He is a pianist, organist, and choirmaster, and a reader of history. He now lives in Eugene, Oregon where his writing and music continue. A biographical novel that will eventually follow (in about two years) is titled David, The King.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing twelve years ago. My daughter was diagnosed with cancer at that time, and I needed to concentrate on something rather than allow myself idle worry, which would not have accomplished anything.
I was very concerned for her and kept a vigilant watch, but started writing a musical play which ended up being the only one of my dramas to be published. It is obscure, and will remain so, but at least it helped me get through a very hard time, and in some smaller ways, I was able to help my daughter get through it as well.
It wasn’t until seven years later that I started writing books, and I’ve published two and have two more ‘waiting’ in the years since that time.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
I am comfortable working as a playwright , writing memoirs, and writing fiction. I had to work myself into all three, but they have come out well.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I wanted to talk about my life in Cairo and Egypt, and to try to understand how I came to love the place and the people. I have told about life there, but still am not sure I understand why I love it. The novel I just finished (The Great Sphinx Of Amun-Ra) may help make some of those ideas clearer.
Who or what influenced your writing over the years?
My life experiences, especially in Egypt, were the catalyst for the writing. I have always been interested in words, but needed a push to get me started on the writing pathway.
Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?
I suppose I could say patience. I was vaguely aware that writers had to edit and rewrite, but had no idea how involved that process actually was. Another thing I am hoping it will help me learn is marketing, another aspect of writing that I had no idea about.
Have you developed a specific writing style?
Not a truly individual style, but one that is not current or stylish among a lot of readers, I’m sure. On the other hand, there are huge numbers of readers who want exactly the style I offer. I call it “nineteeth century style in the twenty-first century.” It may seem passé to some, but it speaks to me, and to many people who have bought my other book (Cairo: The Mother Of The World). ‘Sphinx’ – the shortened title for my novel, is a book with the same style and potential.
What is the true age of the Great Sphinx of Giza? There is a lot of discussion and much controversy among Egyptologists concerning its origin, and no one has yet been able to find a date or inscription that will settle the dispute. The evidence, according to a large group of scientists, is the human visage of the statue. They believe it can be dated to the time of the Pharaoh Khafra (Khefren) who ruled about 4,500 years ago, by the style of the headdress the Sphinx wears. But the fact that the head is so much smaller in proportion to the body of the beast is, for many, a clear signal that the Sphinx was changed at that time, and the resulting theory is that the original appearance of the great stone lion was quite different. No one can determine the precise time the original statue was constructed. Some serious scientists have estimated that it may be 10,000 years or older.
The tiny colony of Nomo, far to the west of the Nile Valley, set out nearly 8,000 years ago to find a new home along the Great Water that some members of the tribe recalled from their young years. The Water lay many day’s distance across the treacherous sands of the Bab – the name they gave the Sahara Desert – and their exploration to find the water was a monumental task. But the explorers were successful and the tribe picked up all they could carry and resettled themselves beside the Great River, founding a village that grew into a town, and eventually into a nation, joining with many other tribes to form ancient Kmet, now called Egypt. They thrived there for millennia, growing and changing into a complex and sophisticated society ruled by Pharaohs, and became the builders of the mighty pyramids and temples that lie along the Nile, and creators of the greatest sculpture the world has ever seen: the mighty Sphinx of Giza.