Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jane Austen goes to Ancient Egypt

I have always been a huge fan of Jane Austen. I have reread her books a number of times. I watch the movie adaptations of her novels with varying degrees of enthusiasm and most often prefer the more literal interpretations of the BBC. I even read a biography of Miss Austen. I have not developed an equivalent interest in the Regency period though I feel I know its manners and mores fairly well from Miss Austen’s wonderfully humorous and lucid writing. Instead I am a big fan of Ancient Egypt (as you may have noticed from the theme of this blog).

I have had a lot of fun, over the years, at the site in transferring wonderful Austenesque characters to Ancient Egyptian settings. In fact the name of this blog comes from my character Kemsit. She was sister to the High Priest of Imen (Amun) in ancient Waset (Karnak) and was a right royal pain in the ass. When her brother took the unimaginable step of becoming Pharaoh in our alternate history version of Cleopatra’s Egypt (read here if you’re interested in the stories) Kemsit was all for it. She became Mistress of the Harem and then schemed for her eldest daughter Tetisheri to marry her uncle and rise to the position of First Wife even if it meant Queen Sekhmet had to get supplanted. Most of my stories were all about this ambitious lady and her treatment of her daughter, siblings, and her plots to get rid of other ladies of the harem.

My latest character, Kemmiew, is a spiritual sister to Kemsit but exists in a New Kingdom setting and plots instead against King Hatshepsut, the Female Pharaoh. A little historical aside here: I refer to Hatshepsut correctly as ‘king’ because there was no concept of queen in AE nor was there a feminine form of king as a title. Hatshepsut called herself by the exact same titles as previous pharaohs and even often was referred to as ‘he’ in inscriptions as well as having a masculinazed image most of the time. Anyway back to fiction. Kemmiew views Hatshepsut as an upstart and unnatural and she’s determined to marry her daughter Satiah to young Thutmoses III and remove Hatshepsut from the throne. I have only just started telling the story of Kemmiew but I hope to differentiate her in many ways from Kemsit. I anticipate her being even more scheming and vicious and that might signal a departure from Miss Austen, but only intensity. Some of Miss Austen’s characters were just short of villainous and it was only the domesticity of the setting and the lower stakes that kept them from the poison vial in my opinion.

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