I’m delighted to welcome a man of many professions and talents, author Les Picker to Between the Sheets today. I had the good fortune of meeting Les in San Diego at the HNS conference in 2011. He’s full of fascinating stories from his travels across the globe. It wasn’t difficult to see how he would make a great fiction writer.
1. You wear many hats–travel photographer, journalist, editor, and nonfiction writer. What inspired you to write a fiction series?
I think the dark secret of many nonfiction writers is to pen a novel. I wrote my first novel in 1977. Hopefully it will never see the light of day! Despite a very successful career as a writer, with more than 600 credits in major magazines and newspapers, I had always wanted to write novels. After raising two families I finally gave myself permission to do that. I’ve since written four novels and am working on the fifth.
2. Why ancient Egypt? Do other eras and locales appeal to you?
I have always been fascinated by ancient Egypt. When I was a child my father would take me to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and we’d spend lots of time in the Egyptian collection. Then, when I was a University faculty, I consulted for many years to the Egyptian government. My trips there cemented my love for that period of history.
But as I immersed myself in the research, I became more and more intrigued by the notion of how this entire Dynastic tradition began. When did it start? Who started it? The more I researched, the more fascinating the story became. I asked three prominent Egyptologists to be my mentors and visited their digs. I lived with a Bedouin tribe to learn more about the deep desert. Finally I had enough to write The First Pharaoh .
As a side note, as I wrote about King Narmer, who united The Two Lands under the First Dynasty, I found out about his great-granddaughter, Meryt-Neith, who became the very first female King. As I learned more about this fascinating woman I knew I had to write a sequel based on her incredible life and that became The Dagger of Isis. Neith was highly revered. So that book became the second in my First Dynasty Series. I am now working on the third and final book, about the last King of that Dynasty.
The audio book of The First Pharaoh was just released and I’m very excited about that. My narrator, Adam Hanin, is simply amazing!
3. You have said you are more proud of your rejections than your accomplishments. How so? Was there ever a time you wanted to abandon your fiction writing?
When I used to teach writing, or when I mentor writers today, I point out that what separates real writers from wannabes is the dedication, persistence and passion to stick with it and continually improve despite soul-wrenching rejections. That’s what forges the blade. If you have it in your gut to write, then screw what some fickle editor says! Move on. Keep at it. Get the last laugh.
When I was a newbie writer I once had an article rejected 12 times. More than a year later it was accepted on the 13th submission, by the very same editor who had rejected it on my initial submission! Maybe he had a bad day the first time around. It became one of the magazines most talked-about articles. Go figure!
Have I ever thought about abandoning my fiction writing? No more than I thought about stopping breathing.
4. What marketing advice do you have for new writers?
Reach out and learn, from people like Heather and other truly helpful people out there.
Hidden Talent: Observing other cultures
Best Place on Earth: South Island, New Zealand
Favorite Photograph of Yours: As a pro I have too many to settle on just one. Each one has its own story. HERE
Saliva-worthy Food: Seared scallops
About the Author
Les Picker has written more than 600 articles for publications including National Geographic books and magazines, Forbes, Fortune Small Business, Better Homes & Gardens, and dozens of others. He is an award-winning photographer. Les has published four novels and is working on a fifth.