Pharaoh’s Arrow is a picture book that tells a fascinating story using authentic hieroglyphics and historic papyrus paintings. What was the inspiration that made you want to put this book together?
I have taught elementary school for over 25 years. I have always found that using picture books is a great way to teach subjects like history and art to students. Picture books bring history alive. I found in teaching about Early Societies that there was an abundance of information books but not picture book narratives. I wanted to create a resource that teachers or any Egyptology fan could use and enjoy that included factual information but was also entertaining. I have always been fascinated by Ancient Egypt, so I thought this would be a great way to break into writing and illustrating picture books.
Each piece of artwork in the book was done by you on papayri. What was that process like?
The illustrations are actually done on paper to replicate the look of papyrus. I included directions in the back of the book, so readers can create similar drawings. The secret is to colour with pencil crayon, as this medium will resist paint. Then I painted over the coloured illustration using brown and yellow tempera paint. I used a large paint brush and painted both directions leaving the brush strokes showing. Last, I covered the wet paint with a disposable cloth and rubbed the cloth then removed the cloth. That is how the look of papyrus is achieved. It is simple yet works. I hope readers will try it out. I made a Youtube video to demonstrate the technique and colouring pages are found on my website https”//georgeneeb.ca
I felt that you did a great job of getting the facts of ancient Egypt correct. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?
I spent months researching how the Egyptian drew everything. I looked through lots of information books about Ancient Egypt. The Egyptians had a distinct way of drawing. Their style is simple yet graceful. I’ve heard the Egyptians described as the first graphic artists. People were drawn in profile but with forward facing eyes and shoulders. It is almost a contorted look. I also researched how trees, homes, palaces and animals were drawn. Egyptians didn’t uses perspective and size differences were usually due to importance, so sometimes the Pharaoh was drawn larger than everyone else. This made illustrating the book challenging because I couldn’t draw a lot of varied perspectives, such as a bird’s eye or an ant’s eye point of view. I really could only do some close ups in order to keep faithful to Egyptian style.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book is totally different. It is a story about an overweight girl that longs to be a super hero, but her mother and aunt really pressure her to act like the other girls and try to be pretty and popular. When some bullies befriend her, she has to decide if this is the person she wants to be. I did the illustrations using cut paper and also dyed paper backgrounds. The book is in the editing stage, so I hope it will be ready by late summer. I am also writing a book about an Emperor and a dragon in Ancient China. It will be illustrated to look like Chinese silk paintings have come to life to tell the story.
Akia loves living in an oasis far from the Nile River with her father. But when she is faced with another family tragedy, Akia embarks on a plan of revenge that takes her to the ancient capital of Memphis and to meet Almighty Pharaoh. She quickly learns that vengeance isn’t as easy as it may seem! Come visit Ancient Egypt through a tale told in rhyming couplets, authentic hieroglyphics and historic papyrus paintings come to life. Ages 8 – 11 or any Egyptology fan!
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If you’re shopping for a picture book, George Neeb’s Pharaoh’s Arrow should be high on your list of choices. This unique book is an experience like you haven’t seen before – a whole book written and illustrated in the style of ancient Egypt! Neeb took the time to paint all the pages by hand and tell us a story of revenge set in the times of a bygone era. He studied Egyptian art and it shows on every page.. Every page is an individual work of art, bringing the artistic style of the Land of the pyramids into the modern format.
While set in ancient times of the pharaohs, Neeb came up with the story himself. As he explained, he tried to get the facts correct. The style of clothing and the makeup match the era the story is set in and he spent a considerable amount of time giving his book the feel of an old papayri. He didn’t just stop at the characters, whom he painted in the drawing style of the ancient Egypt, but went as far to match the authentic hieroglyphics that appear throughout the story with the text!
Pharaoh’s Arrow excels in the themes it takes us through. While picture books usually don’t trouble themselves with big moral questions, George Neeb had other ideas for his characters. What starts like a story of revenge ends up differently than you would expect. Without giving the details, you will be surprised with the decision the main character decided to go with. And while odd, the decision is very practical. Considering the times the story is happening the decision is quite fitting. I felt that Neeb’s poetry was not his strong suit and were not lyrically challenging, but he is still able to tell an interesting story.
Many odds and ends of the life of ancient Egypt show throughout the book. The story starts in quite an unusual way – the mother of Akia, our heroine, is killed by a crocodile which makes her father decide to live in the desert. Crocodiles where a predator on the Nile back in the day and the situation gives us a glimpse of life thousands of years ago. Burial rites of the ancient Egypt are also referenced and Neeb also talks about the spirituality that the people of those times were observing. His reference of “ba”, roughly translated as the modern concept of the soul, is something you will not find in many books that deal with this long gone civilization!
The illustrations are unique and make it an unforgettable work of art. At the end of the book Neeb even explains how to accomplish the style yourself, making the Pharaoh’s Arrow a perfect choice for anyone interested in painting and history.
Pages: 18 | ASIN: B07DV1XL2M
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Two Polluted Black-Heart Romances follows the lives of a vampire, fairy and mummy as they try to escape the wrath of a paranormal group bent on revenge. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
This was a follow up to One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail. In that story, the main character is hunted for her wings. The otherworldly world I created, opens up and you get a glimpse inside. In this new novel, I wanted to show a much deeper look insider. And I wanted to show how complicated, strange, and fun, some of the lives of these otherworldly creatures can be. My initial idea was to have something very large for all of them to be afraid of. But then I wanted something even larger to be out there to make the original big thing look small. Imagine if you were afraid of Godzilla and then an alien that could swallow the planet showed up. Yeah, something like that. J
The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I always enjoy writing Sabrina London, the female lead. She is constantly growing and learning from her mistakes….her many…many mistakes. I also enjoyed writing for Joe, the new guy. The sentient slime character. He’s fun and funny. He also provides good contrast to the other characters and otherworldly races.
What draws you to the fantasy genre? When you start writing is this where your stories go naturally, or do you have the intention of writing fantasy?
I am drawn to the fantasy world. Totally. I prefer writing in a realm where anything and everything is possible. But I think my writing is secretly fueled by things more…steamy. When I watch a fantasy show on TV and it is devoid of sex or sexuality, I tend to feel empty. But when you give me something like Game of Thrones or Spartacus, which are filled with all sorts of naughtiness…then I feel like the story is complete.
If Hollywood came knocking, who would you cast to play your characters?
I love to cast my books. I do so on all my blogs and on my FB pages. For Sabrina, I think of Joanna Krupa as being exactly what she looks like. But as an actor I would cast Beth Behrs from Two Broke Girls or Jessica Sipos from Ascension. I would pick Beth because she is pretty and statuesque and funny. AND she pretty much already knows how to play a spoiled rich girl who had a fall from grace. So it makes total sense. I would pick Jessica because she has the sex appeal to play Sabrina.
For Moselle there is only one choice: Priyanka Chopa, from the TV show Quantico. When writing the books, I imagined a Sofia Vergara type of woman. But I think Priyanka is an even better fit now, and could pull off looking like an ancient Egyptian in flashbacks.
Cade…well, I have a image of him in my head. Slight built. Looks out of time. Like one of those classic Hollywood guys; James Dean at his peak. I always say it would be hard not to pick Ian Somerhalder, but he has already done this role. Still, I like him as an actor and he is the right body type and look.
Hollywood rang my doorbell once. But I was not dressed, and by the time I got to the door they were gone…
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am writing book three in this series. THREE BURNING RED RUNAWAY BRIDES. It will be released in late 2018.
Welcome to Los Angeles—but not the LA you know. Here, humans coexist with vampires, mummies, fairies, and other nonhuman entities. Everyone’s just trying to get by for the most part—but some are having more difficulty than others.
A vampire named Cade, a fairy named Sabrina, and a mummy named Moselle are on the lam after exposing the existence of the Otherworldly Assembly, a shadowy organization of paranormal beings. The assembly has sent terrifying assassins called wraiths to exact revenge. The nonhuman trio is in for a real horror show, and they don’t know the half of it—another threat looms, and its destructive ambitions are vast.
Meanwhile, a human named Jackson is recovering from a near-death experience. Old memories and new loves flood his brain, and he’s having trouble finding an outlet for all these feelings—that’s when Sabrina the fairy catches his eye.
Two Polluted Black-Heart Romances, a fast-paced adventure filled with high stakes and unexpected twists, continues the action-packed saga that began with One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail. When unimaginable dangers threaten the planet they all share, humans and nonhumans find a common cause and must work together to prevent disaster.
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In Apollo’s Raven we follow a Celtic princess Catrin and her star-crossed Roman lover Marcellus on opposing sides of a fierce battle. What was your inspiration for the setup to this exciting series?
Since childhood, I’ve been an avid reader of mythology and legends that portrayed females as goddesses, warriors, and cunning sorceresses. I’ve always been drawn to bigger than life epic heroes and heroines who steered the destiny of their people. In my travels to London, I was struck by the statue of Boudica and her daughters riding in a chariot near the Thames River. I discovered that she was a celebrated warrior queen who united the Britons in a revolt against the Romans, almost throwing them out of Britannia in 61 AD. As I did more research, I became intrigued that Celtic women were considered as equals in this war-like society. The Roman historian Dio Cassius describes Boudica as having the mystical powers of a Druid. Other Roman historians wrote of Celtic women’s ferocity as they fought alongside their husbands.
The heroine Catrin is based on historical and legendary accounts of Celtic warrior queens such as Boudica in Britannia where women were held in higher esteem and could serve as warriors and rulers. The storyline of star-crossed lovers in Apollo’s Raven series is inspired by the legacy of Cleopatra and Mark Antony but with a Celtic twist. Archaeological evidence and sparse historical accounts suggest that Rome heavily influenced the politics of southeast Britannia prior to Claudius’s invasion in 43 AD—a political situation similar to Cleopatra’s Egyptian kingdom. I was also drawn to the tragedy of Mark Antony and his son, Iullus Antonius, whose downfalls were associated with powerful women. Their infamy cast a shadow on Marcellus, the great-grandson of Mark Antony, which will be further explored in the Apollo’s Raven series.
Your story is able to portray ancient Roman life in a believable yet entertaining way. What kind of research did you do to make sure you got everything right?
I did extensive research on the Roman life by reading books, journal articles, and blog posts by historians and archaeologists. Of particular interest are the written accounts by Julius Caesar which he sent to the Roman Senate as propaganda to support his military expeditions in Gaul and Britannia. I’ve also explored several Roman archaeological sites in Britain and France where scenes from the Apollo’s Raven series take place. Locations include Dover, Bath, Fishbourne Roman Palace, Colchester and Hadrian’s Wall in England, and Lyon in France.
As I researched Roman historical events and culture, I also tried to understand their mindsight. In Rome, the male head, the paterfamilias, had complete control over his family—wife, children, and slaves. If they disobeyed him, he had the power of life and death over them. Women were held in higher esteem in Celtic societies which is in sharp contrast with the paternalistic, empire-building Romans.
Catrin is a princess, yet she is not fragile. She’s tough and trains to be as strong as her sister. What themes did you want to capture while creating Catrin’s character?
It is my hope that modern women can draw on the rich traditions of the ancient Celtic civilization where females owned property and could become rulers and Druids. These women fought, hunted, rode horses and used weapons, just like the men, to protect their homeland.
Deeper themes that will be explored in the Apollo’s Raven series as Catrin matures and faces new challenges on her journey of becoming a warrior queen are as follows:
- Coming of Age
- Power to change destiny
- Sacrifice and love
- Corruption of power
- Quest for redemption
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am in the process of finishing Book 2: Empire’s Anvil, which should be available by the summer of 2018. The epic tale continues when King Amren accuses Catrin of treason for abetting her Roman lover, Marcellus. She must prove her loyalty to her father and people by forsaking all men and defending her kingdom even to death. Forged as a fierce warrior, she begins a quest to redeem herself and to break the curse that foretells her father’s kingdom will be destroyed. Yet, when she is reunites with Marcellus, she must face her greatest challenger that could destroy her life, freedom, and humanity.
The world is in turmoil. Celtic kings hand-picked by Rome to rule are fighting each other for power. King Amren’s former queen, a powerful Druid, has cast a curse that foretells Blood Wolf and the Raven will rise and destroy him.
King Amren reveals to his daughter, Princess Catrin, the grim prophesy that his former queen pronounced at her execution for treason to him.
The gods demand the scales be balanced for the life you take. If you deny my soul’s journey to the Otherworld by beheading me, I curse you to do the same as mine. I prophesize your future queen will beget a daughter who will rise as a Raven and join your son, Blood Wolf, and a mighty empire to overtake your kingdom and to execute my curse.
Catrin is trained as a warrior and discovers she is the Raven and must find a way to block the curse of the evil former queen. Torn between her forbidden love for her father’s enemy–Marcellus, the great-grandson of Mark Antony–and her loyalty to her people, she must summon the magic of the Ancient Druids to alter the dark prophecy that awaits her.
Will Catrin overcome and eradicate the ancient curse? Will she be able to embrace her forbidden love with Marcellus? Will she cease the war between Blood Wolf and King Amren? Will she save Ancient Britannia?
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The Chimaera Regiment follows Hector as he sets off on a world altering journey. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The first idea that I incorporated into this story, or what eventually became this story, was the question, “What if someone compelled a worldwide society, perhaps not far into our future, back to a level of technology and culture comparable to the very first tribal communities?” Of course, by the time I wrote the book, I had decided to aim for something closer to the late Bronze or early Iron Age than the Stone Age, and the whole question became part of the world-building rather than a story I tell during the book.
The character of Hector started to develop as I began to catalogue ideas and lay out a basic plan of the plot. Up to that point, I had never completed anything longer than a short story (in spite of my best efforts), so I wanted to make it as easy as possible for myself to get all the way through a novel. To that end, I took that advice so frequently bandied about, “Write what you know,” and decided to make the hero someone a little younger than I was at the time.
The first draft of the novel was quite a bit shorter than it is now, and it ended up collecting dust in a box for a few years. (I prefer to write first drafts by hand.) Around the time a movie was released with, by total coincidence, my working title, I decided to go back to it and see what I could make of it. By that point, I had gotten a college degree and learned enough to know that the first draft had a good core, but the implementation was all wrong. Over the next couple of years, I went through the entire book and rewrote it, this time trying to make sure all the pieces aligned. It was at this point that I incorporated mythology into the story and titled it The Chimaera Regiment.
That initial idea is still in there, and you can see the edges of it as the backstory develops through this book, but I’m going to explore that question more closely in future books.
I think the story has roots in mythology. Do you read books from that genre? What were some books that you think influenced The Chimaera Regiment?
It does, and I do. My bachelor’s degree is focused on the Classics, which some may have heard called Classical Studies or (my favorite) Classical Philology, so I learned Latin and ancient Greek and I read a lot of Greco-Roman mythology, both in English and in the original languages. (My knowledge of Norse mythology is pretty limited, I’ve barely touched Egyptian mythology, and I’m as clueless as the next guy when it comes to anything else.)
For The Chimaera Regiment in particular, I looked to a lot of different sources for inspiration. What I wanted, perhaps most of all, was to craft a story that people would enjoy regardless of their educational background, but I also wanted to include a lot of “Easter eggs” for people with the same knowledge-base I have. So on the surface you have Hector on his quest to save the world from the Chimaera Regiment, and underneath that, I’m incorporating themes and plotlines from the myth of Bellerophon. Bellerophon, of course, was the hero that killed the Chimaera in the Greek mythos. Most of that particular tale comes to us from the writings of Apollodorus and one section of Homer’s Iliad, but there are a lot of minor references in other works, too.
While the myth of Bellerophon and the Chimaera is interwoven with the main plot, I also included references to other myths, both significant and minor, throughout. The vast majority of those can be found in Homer (either the Iliad or the Odyssey), Vergil (the Aeneid), or Ovid (the Metamorphoses), but to be honest, I enjoyed the process of hiding those references so much that I’m not completely sure I could tell you all of them at this point!
I found the characters in this story to be complex and engaging. What were the driving ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?
Especially when it came to Hector, whom we follow more closely than anyone else, I wanted something realistic. I find a lot of “coming of age” hero stories jump too quickly from “callow youth” to “great warrior” without much reason for it. I didn’t want my readers to ask, “Wait, why can he do that? How come he’s not daunted by this fight or fazed by this tragedy? When did he have time to learn strategy?” Incorporating that development was important to me.
When it came to the other characters, it was a matter of establishing ideals for each of them—how they saw the world, how they expected life to go—and then challenging those ideals with reality. Sometimes reality is better than they thought, but usually, it’s worse; either way, they have to adjust to deal with that. It’s a process not altogether different from the way we deal with change in our own lives.
I find a problem in a well written stories in that I always want there to be another book to keep the story going. Is there a second book planned?
There is a second book planned (and, very roughly, a third). The sequel is titled The Aegipan Revolution and picks up, not where the main story of The Chimaera Regiment leaves off, but rather where our epilogue leaves off, with the child learning this epic tale from his history.
I’m in the midst of writing The Aegipan Revolution, and I’ve passed the halfway point, but there is still a lot left to tell. After that, I’ll need to edit it thoroughly (though hopefully not as slowly as the first book!). On top of that, my day job has me incredibly busy these days. So I’d love to set a date for the next book’s release, but I can’t realistically estimate that right now.
It is late autumn in the 2040th year of the Sixth Era. For centuries, peace has reigned among the tribes of men, but as an early chill descends on the land, a new war looms from the south. Lord Derek, ruler of the Chimaera Regiment, seeks to reestablish the ancient Fylscem Empire under his banner, and he will stop at nothing to restore the dominion of his bloodline.
Before him lies the idyllic Valley of Kyros, home of the Alkimites, where the last direct heir of the old empire lives in ignorance. Guided by the ancient Guardian Lord Aneirin, Hector son of Abram must travel to the primeval capital of his heritage. There, in the Library of the Ancients, he must retrieve the three Blessed Blades of the Emperor, symbols of his authority. Agents of the Chimaera Regiment pursue him, and barbaric tribes stand in his way, but his path may unlock the secrets of the past, and it could bring light—or darkness—to the future.
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