Amira Aly, author of Egypt: The Uprising, launches her blog tour!

Monday, August 01, 2011

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest

For many authors writing a novel means months, even years of research. They interview people who lived lives similar to their characters', they visit places that play a key element in their book, and they research traditions, language, and events. They have to get it just right! For Amira Aly, author of the YA novel Egypt: The Uprising, research was a little simpler. Amira lived through the world changing event--The Egyptian Revolution of 2011--just as her characters did. As a resident of Cairo she is as familiar with the shadows of the pyramids and the movement of the Nile as she is with the faces of her loved ones.

But Egypt: The Uprising offers The Egyptian Revolution with a twist. It is a fascinating combination of modern events, historical figures, secret organizations with magical powers, and adventure that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Aya, a teenage girl living with her aunt and brother, tries to live through the Revolution without getting swept up into the demonstrations and violence. But fate has something else in mind. What starts out as an attempt by Aya to drag her brother and his friends away from the demonstrations transforms into a battle with ancient Egyptian figures who have returned from the past to take control of modern Egypt. Can Aya learn enough about her mysterious past and powers in time to save her world from the evil threatening it?

Egypt: The Uprising is available for purchase in both print and e-book format at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, in various e-book formats at eBookIt!, and for the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch at the Apple iBookstore.

ISBN: 1461195481
Format: Paperback, 178 pages, and e-book

Be transported back to a time when Egyptian gods and goddesses roamed the world with the book trailer for Egypt: The Uprising below. This is the most exciting book trailer I've seen in a while! When I asked Amira about which trailer production company created it, she modestly replied that she did, herself! Bravo, Amira. Bravo!

Book Giveaway Contest: If you would like to win an e-copy of Egypt: The Uprising, please leave a comment at the end of this post to be entered in a random drawing. The giveaway contest closes this Thursday, August 4 at 11:59 PM, PST. For an extra entry, link to this post on Twitter with the hashtag #ETUAly, then come back and leave us a link to your tweet. We will announce the winner in the comments section of this post on the following day Friday, August 5. Good luck!

About the Author:

Amira Aly lived in Canada up until her first year of university when she moved to Egypt to study medicine at the University of Cairo. It seemed she was on the traditional route of a medical career working as an intern and teaching assistant in the surgical pathology department. But then she discovered the wonderful world of freelance medical writing. And who could resist its charms?

Egypt: The Uprising isn't Amira's first book. There was that picture book she wrote when she was five years old. Sadly, publishers didn't recognize its brilliance but it was the first step on a journey of a life filled with a love of writing.

When she isn't writing, Amira likes to read her favorite authors Anne Rice, Stephen King, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. She also spends time dancing, playing video games, and eating her favorite food Molokheya (an Egyptian green soup). She'd like to squeeze in time to learn a fourth language. She already speaks English, Arabic, and French. Amira lives in Cairo with her husband, 7 year old daughter, and 17 month old son. Her children would like to add a dog to that family list but Amira, still traumatized by the loss of a pet turtle, has sworn off pets. That, and she suspects she'll be the one walking the dog even though everyone promises they will!

Visit Amira Aly at her author website and her blog. Check out her Facebook Fan Page, and follow her on Twitter.

-------- Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Welcome, Amira! I love books that weave history into their novels, but your book includes history we've all witnessed (thanks to CNN and Twitter). Please tell us how you decided to write a book involving the Egyptian Revolution. Was there one event during the Revolution that made you say, "Yes, this would be a great book"?

Amira: I had been toying with the premise of a book set in post-apocalyptic Egypt where the Goddess of Justice and moral order, Ma'at, meets up with a teenage Egyptian girl to give her guidance on restoring order to the universe.

But there is one specific incident that set the plot into action: the looting of the Egyptian museum. When the streets of Egypt were swept by the tides of the revolution, police forces withdrew from the streets. Armed thugs took advantage of the chaos and looted the Egyptian museum. This was the defining moment for my book. It all flashed in my head: Egyptian museum raided by pro-regime thugs to get a hold of a vital ancient artifact. Ma'at's involvement in the plot seemed very befitting, after all, the protesters were after justice and righteousness.

Aya, my protagonist, was there on the paper ready for action. It just all fell into place as if it was pre-destined.

WOW: Besides modern events, what influenced this book? Are you a student of Egyptian culture? A lover of science fiction and fantasy genres?

Amira: I am a fan of all things paranormal and speculative fiction in a broader sense. I love alternate realities and stories that highlight the interface between the mundane and the extraordinary. My all-time favorite writing hero is Stephen King. I started reading his books when I was about nine or ten, and ever since he has never failed to amaze me with his rich imagination and edgy story-telling.

I live in a Cairo suburb a few miles away from the Giza plateau which hosts the great pyramids and the enigmatic Sphinx. My family and I look upon them on all our trips to the city. I always take the opportunity to talk to my daughter about ancient Egypt, as part of our heritage that I am immensely proud of. My fascination with the Egyptian mythology stemmed from the fact that I can still see the echoes of it throughout the global culture. I did not study it academically, but I read everything I could lay my hands on and talked to some experts when I was researching the book.

WOW: Do you feel that drawing so closely on real life made your writing more convincing, more real?

Amira: I actually enjoyed fictionalizing reality very much. Not only did it help the flow of the story, but I also felt that, in a way, I was sending secret little messages-in-a-bottle that will be re-read many years down the road. Immortalizing your own version of reality through a novel also helps shed light on the actual events, and keeps them in the spotlight for years to come.

I feel like weaving real life into fiction intensifies the reading experience--and I think my readers agree. I started a "Fact or Fiction?" section on my website because readers started to ask me about the reality of events and places from the novel. Some of the readers who were fascinated by the Egyptian mythology in the book send me messages or tweets questions about different concepts or figures. I respond to them individually of course, but I also added a FAQs section on my website and I am in the process of writing a small mythology supplement to the series that I will make available for free.

WOW: Egypt: The Uprising is for a young adult audience (although I feel adults will enjoy it also). Did you make a conscious choice to write for a YA audience? Did you ever consider writing for an adult audience?

Amira: Egypt: The Uprising is a novel about transformation, rebellion, and the dynamics of becoming who we are. These are themes best expressed through a teenage protagonist and most likely to be best appreciated by the young adult audience.

This is actually my first attempt at addressing the young adult audience. My two other completed manuscripts are literary fiction for adult readers. I have enjoyed the process of writing young adult fiction tremendously. I had a blast with all the fun and quirkiness my teenage cast of characters spilt onto the paper. I think I am going to stick in YA land for a while.

WOW: This is your debut novel. Can you tell us a little about your writing history?

Amira: Although I come from the technical writing world where my most prolific writing is dry non-fiction, I have always been a storyteller. I 'wrote' my first story when I was five, as soon as I learned to spell out words phonetically. I have not stopped writing ever since. I have a dozen of short stories (I went through a flash fiction phase) and two novel-length manuscripts hiding out in my drawer under the pile of unfinished scripts and story outlines. Perhaps I will seek out homes for these works some day.

I imagine that my near future will be pretty much occupied by the series "the Battle for Ma'at". Egypt: The Uprising, the first of the series, was set in locations I was very familiar with. It made the writing process easier, but I will need to do some traveling for the locations which I will be featuring in the latter installments.

WOW: Many writers complain about that long, bumpy road from writing to publication. Can you tell us a little about your challenges on the way to publication.

Amira: The biggest for me writing genre fiction in Egypt is that I write in English, not Arabic--Egypt's first language. There are many large publishing houses that deal with Arabic fiction competently. For English fiction however, the situation is grim. Publishing houses that deal with English fiction are basically vanity publishers in disguise. The author pays them to print the books, and also pays for the editing, cover art, and the publicity. It is a ludicrous process whereby an author signs off her rights for a very long period of time and does not get an advance.

Agents simply do not exist in Egypt. An author sends out their manuscript directly to the publishing house of their choice. And because of the profitable prospect of charging the author anywhere between a thousand and two thousand dollars (which is a small fortune in a country like Egypt) a manuscript is rarely turned down.

The real reason writers seek out traditional publishers is for the validation it offers us. They act as gatekeepers. I would have wanted to feel 'chosen', that my book will be put out by someone who has high quality standards not just to be added to a pile of mediocre books. And since this is not possible under the current publishing model in Egypt, I felt I should go about publishing it on my own.

WOW: Thank you for the insight into the Egyptian publishing industry. Fascinating! So, do you have any advice for our readers?

Amira: Do not let your insecurities hold you back. Let go. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Pick up a pen and start writing. You can only hone your craft it you write, re-write and edit and learn from your mistakes.

Write your way through your worries and insecurities and self-doubts. And if you ever want to stop writing, write some more. If you love writing, then you were born to write. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You will never know if you are good enough unless you give it your best shot.

WOW: Got that everyone? Pick up your pen and forget about everything else! Thanks so much, Amira, for sharing with us today. This is going to be a fantastic tour!

--------Blog Tour Dates

Wednesday, August 3 @ Buried in Books
What do you know about Egypt? Camels. Pyramids. Dates. Learn more from Amira Aly, author of the YA fantasy novel Egypt: The Uprising, writing from her home in Cairo.

Friday, August 5 @ YA Booklover Blog
Chloe, blogger at YA Booklover Blog, gave her followers a chance to ask the questions for this interview with Amira Aly, debut author of the YA fantasy Egypt: The Uprising. Add your questions to the list!

Monday, August 8 @ All-Consuming Books
Are you a mystery lover? A romance lover? A fantasy lover? YA writer Amira Aly discusses chooses your genre. You also have the chance to win a copy of her debut fantasy novel Egypt: The Uprising.

Tuesday, August 9 @ Writers Inspired
Mary Jo is taking time out from her Young Writers Summer Studio to get to know a debut novelist in the YA genre: Amira Aly. Don't miss this great interview and giveaway of an e-copy of Egypt: The Uprising.

Friday, August 12 @ Selling Books
Cathy Stucker has lots of questions for Amira Aly, author of Egypt: The Uprising. Stop by for a chat!

Wednesday, August 17 @ Musings from the Slushpile
How do you feel about stepping out of your comfort zone? Amira Aly, a YA author, posts about how being adventurous can help your writing. She's also giving away an e-book of her fantasy novel Egypt: The Uprising.

Monday, August 22 @ I'd So Rather Be Reading
Stop by for a conversation with Amira Aly, author of Egypt: The Uprising, about why self-publishing was less a choice and more of a necessity. You'll also have a chance to win an e-format of this YA novel.

Tuesday, August 23 @ Pragmatic Mom Blog
Ever wonder what would happen if long ago dictators decided to make a comeback? That and more happens in the YA fantasy novel Egypt: The Uprising by Amira Aly.

Monday, August 29 @ Reader Girls
When she was researching her novel all Amira Aly had to do was look out her window! Don't miss her guest post "The Egyptian Revolution: Writing History As It Happens." You can also win an e-book of Egypt: The Uprising!

Tuesday, August 30 @ Capability Mom
Is writing for loners? Or is it something that touches the whole family? Amira Aly, author of the YA novel Egypt: The Uprising, posts about involving your children in your writing.

Friday, September 2 @ From the TBR Pile
LAST CHANCE to win an e-copy of Amira Aly's Egypt: The Uprising! Immerse yourself in an alternate reality full of revolution, magical powers, and pharoahs.

To view all of our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar here.

Get involved!

If you have a blog or website and would like to host Amira or one of the other touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email Jodi and Robyn at

Book Giveaway Contest: Enter to win an e-copy of Amira Aly's novel Egypt: The Uprising!

Here's how you enter:

1. For your first entry, just leave a comment on this post! Leave a comment or ask Amira a question to be entered in the random drawing.

2. For an extra entry, link to this post on Twitter with the hashtag #ETUAly, then come back and leave us a link to your tweet.

The giveaway contest closes this Thursday, August 4 at 11:59 pm, PST. We will announce the winner in the comments section of this post the following day--Friday, August 5, and if we have the winner's email address from the comments section, we will also notify the winner via email. Good luck!


GSMarlene said...

Sounds like a fascinating book! Egypt is on my list of places to visit, so a book that mixes fiction with a basis in reality so that I learn something new is very intruiging. Congratulations on publication!

Kelley Lynn said...

Congrats on publication! I think its wonderful that you drew from current events for this book, especially since its going to the hands of YA. Its a way of making them realize the world around us, without force feeding them. Brilliant!

Unknown said...

How interesting to read about your fiction response to a recent event!
As a parent of a young child, do you find it difficult to find time to write?

AmiraAly said...

Hello all,
Thank you for stopping by :)

@Marlene Thank you. Don't forget to give me a shout out if you ever come to Egypt ;)

@Kelly Thanks :)) This is exactly what I thought when I was writing the book. It's always difficult for a writer to find that balance between entertaining the reader and trying to tell them something you think is worthy. I love it when I reader tells me that they did not know much about Egypt but the book sparked their interest, or that they were not following the events in Egypt but now they do.

@Patricia In all honesty, it's a living hell trying to find time when my mind is lucid enough to write! I have to day that I would not have been able to finish the book so quickly if it weren't for my husband taking the kids on day trips to free up the house for me.

Margo Dill said...

First of all, I have to say it is amazing to me when people can write something so interesting so quickly. Congrats on that! I wish I could do that. It's great that you have a supportive husband! Did you find writing about the Egyptian Revolution was hard because you are kind of close to it? I always find subjects I am close to more difficult to write. I don't think I could ever write a memoir!

Katie K said...

Egypt is one of my dream places to visit, and this book sounds so intriguing! I've actually done a bit of research on Egypt, but at a more ancient history angle. Congrats on the publishing of your book! :)

AmiraAly said...

@Margo Thanks Margo. I tremendously enjoyed fictionalizing reality. I've had a habit of doing that for years.. I shamefully admit that I am the memoir-writing type actually :-S

@Katie Thank you :) Your blog posts on Egypt are quite interesting... wish you the best of luck on your novel.

WOW! said...

Happy Friday! Thank you for your comments.

We held a random drawing for an e-copy of Amira Aly's novel, Egypt: The Uprising, and the winner is... Kelley! Congratulations, Kelley! We will contact you via the email listed in your profile.

For everyone else, please follow the rest of the stops on the tour for more giveaways and fantastic advice from Amira Aly. :)

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