I had left open our last day in Egypt just in case I needed to go back and do any additional research, but it looked like it was complete. I had visited all the places that my characters had: Giza, Abusir, Ma’adi, the Metro, the Khan al-Khalili, and Al Ahzar park. My husband, the man in charge of handling the digital camera, had taken hundreds of pictures. So my sister Liz suggested that we go out to visit her friend Margaret, who had a house on the west bank of the Nile not too far from Abusir. In addition to meeting one of Liz’s best friends, I knew that I’d get a chance to drive by the pyramids again.
I was still wondering just a little about one of my major scenes, so I asked Margaret about some of my travel choices for my characters. She set me straight on what my three young characters would do. I was horrifed because this pretty much destroyed my original plan. Plus, I didn’t have good visuals and wasn’t sure how I could get them. But Margaret also had a solution, which entailed paying to get into the Saqqara country club and then buying some drinks before we sauntered out to my real destination: the desert. You can’t just get on it just anywhere–at least not between Giza and Saqqara. Private property lies between the desert and the public roads.
This was the first time that I actually beat my characters to a location. They had been everywhere else first.
We walked out through the gate and headed south towards Abusir. We walked for a little while, but it was really too late in the afternoon to go any farther, especially since Margaret was recovering from surgery. But I had what I needed.
Kurt and I did take a quick climb up the extremely steep hill shown in the first picture. And here’s a better view of power lines and pyramids. I knew that juxtaposition would make it into the book.
While I tweaked a lot of scenes based on my experiences in Egypt and the photographs that Kurt took, I would say that this Friday afternoon triggered the biggest changes. In fact, I would say that more than six chapters were heavily impacted. I knew it would take a lot of work to make the changes. What I had before would have technically worked, but my expat character was a savvy kid who knew how to work his local system. I might have been able to fool most people, but I wanted to also make the expats in Maadi nod their heads and say, “It could have happened just like that.”
So here’s a big thanks to Kurt, Liz and Margaret!