Fiona Ingram is a children’s author, but up until a few years ago, she was a journalist and editor. Something rather unexpected sparked her new career as an author—a family trip to Egypt with her mother and two young nephews. They had a great time and she thought she’d write them a short story as a different kind of souvenir…. Well, one book and a planned book series later, she had changed careers. She has now published Book 3 (The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper) in her middle grade adventure series Chronicles of the Stone, with many awards for the first book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, a few for Book 2, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, and several for Book 3! She also teaches online novel writing for aspiring authors and she finds that very satisfying. Fiona’s experience with raising an adopted, disadvantaged African child struggling with literacy got her interested in the subject and she has written numerous articles on child literacy. Relaxation time finds her enjoying something creative or artistic, music, books, going to the theater or ballet. She enjoys doing research for her book series. Fiona loves animals and has written two animal rescue stories. She has two adorable (naughty) little rescue dogs called Stanley and Pumpkin, and a beautiful black cat called Bertie.
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Tell us about your book! What is it about and what inspired you to write it?
The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper is actually Book 3 in my middle grade action/adventure series, The Chronicles of the Stone. The first book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, was inspired by a family trip to Egypt. From there, the series and the adventures have continued. In the adventures, I have chosen places with a lot of history, cultural interest, and mythology. Two young cousins have the task of uniting seven ancient Stones of Power to save the world. Can they do it while being pursued by an implacable enemy? Book 3 finds our young heroes, with a friend, stranded in the middle of the Mexican jungle when their small plane crashes.
Tell us about your publishing process. What was it like? Did you go indie or the traditional way?
After 35 rejections by traditional agents, I went the indie route, made a few mistakes, wasted some money, and finally settled with a great distributor. I knew absolutely nothing about the publishing business when I started and learned along the way. It was a very bumpy ride to start but now it is smooth sailing.
How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing it, or did it come later?
When I began writing Book 1, I had already mapped out my ideas for seven books and did the research while writing. The titles all have something to do with the main theme or quest, and that depends on where the story is located. Somehow the titles come to mind quite easily.
Tell us about the cover design process. Did you have a basic idea of what your book cover would be like?
I have a fantastic illustrator who also does the covers. We worked on the most exciting scene in the story, something very telling. A moment of danger for the main character. I usually sketch (most horribly) my idea and amazingly my artist manages to translate it into an image. She does a pencil sketch, we discuss a color theme, and then she works in stages with me okaying each stage. The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper has glorious colors in keeping with the ancient Maya and Aztec culture.
Who is your cover designer and how did you find him/her?
I went to see someone who did web site design. On the wall in his office was a huge portrait of Clint Eastwood as The Outlaw Josey Wales. “Wow,” I said, “that looks just like Clint Eastwood! Where did you get this?”
He replied, “My sister did it. She’s an artist. Would you like to meet her?”
And the rest is history.
How was your experience working with the designer?
Lori Bentley is a fantastic designer. She is so creative and does loads of historical research, so we get things right. She has a good eye for color and for interpreting what I want. She is familiar with the story arc as well, which helps. She does the interior illustrations and maps, and map drawing is one of her specialties.
What has been the readers’ response to your cover?
Readers love the covers and because these are historically accurate, that seems to give an added sense of authenticity. When you look at the scene depicted, you feel as if you are there where the action is happening.
What tips would you give to authors who are looking for a cover designer?
Have an idea of what theme/idea you want to portray. Look at images, even paintings around the themes, depending on the period, or if it is fantasy. List the elements (keep it to a few) you feel are important. Do a rough sketch, no matter how bad it looks. Chat with the designer and toss ideas around.
Anything else you’d like to say about your book?
All my books are well researched and convey facts and historical information in a fun and exciting story. If you are looking for books to interest a reluctant reader, grab one of the adventures. Kids get caught up in the stories. So do adults…