Fiona Ingram’s earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, she entertained her three younger brothers and their friends with serialised tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. Haunted houses, vampires, and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favourites in the cast of characters.
Although Fiona Ingram has been involved in the theatre and journalism, writing a children’s book–The Secret of the Sacred Scarab–was an unexpected step, inspired by a family trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for her two nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into a children’s book, the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone. The second book in the series–The Search for the Stone of Excalibur–a huge treat for young King Arthur fans, is now available with Book 3, The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper, on the way. Although Fiona Ingram does not have children of her own, she has an adopted daughter, from an underprivileged background who has discovered the joys of reading for pleasure.
Naturally, Fiona is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films. She loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). She has travelled widely and fulfilled many of her travel goals.
Fiona Ingram was born and educated in South Africa, and has worked as a full-time journalist and editor. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel has resulted in the multi award winning The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—Chronicles of the Stone. Fiona has recently completed the second book entitled The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, a treat for young King Arthur fans. She is busy with Book 3 entitled The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.
Awards: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab (The Chronicles Of The Stone Series Book One)
- Finalist Children’s Fiction Next Generation 2009 Indie Book Awards
- Finalist Juvenile Fiction USA National Best Books 2009
- Winner Pre-Teen 2009 Readers’ Favorites Awards
- Number 2 in the Children’s & Teens Book Connection Top Ten Favourite Books of 2009 for Kids, Tweens & Teens
- Winner Silver Medal Teen Fiction 2010 Nautilus Book Awards
- Finalist Children’s Fiction 2010 International Book Awards
- Winner Bronze Medal Pre-Teen Fiction 2010 Moonbeam Book Awards
- Finalist 2011 Rubery Book Awards
- Winner Gold Award Mystery Pre-Teen 2011 Children’s Literary Classics Awards
- 2nd Place 2011 YA Sharpwrit Book Awards
- Winner Gold Medal 2013 Wise Bear Book Awards
- Finalist 2016 Shelf Unbound Competition for Best Independently Published Book
Awards: The Search For The Stone Of Excalibur (The Chronicles Of The Stone Series Book Two)
- Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval 2015
- Winner Silver Award Mystery Pre-Teen 2015 Children’s Literary
- Classics Awards
- Winner Silver Medal Pre-Teen 2016 Readers’ Favorite Awards
Fiona has several other strings to her bow. She writes Regency romances under the pseudonym Arabella Sheraton and her fifth romance is about to be published. Fiona is a passionate advocate for animal rights. Her love for saving animals led her to create Caladrius Books, dedicated to various animal rescue sites and their amazing stories. She is working with organisations as far-flung as the USA, Fiji, and Indonesia.
What makes you proud to be a writer from South Africa? For many people, including many South Africans, being off the beaten track, so to speak, can be limiting in one’s reach – especially when trying to make an impact in the world of writing. Being published in the USA as well as Japan, and soon China is something any writer can be proud of.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? We always had books in the house, my parents were both readers, and since South Africa only got television in 1976, when you were bored, your parents usually said, “Go read a book!” Books have been a big part of my life since I can remember learning to read, and I think that was the inspiration.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? Actually I’ve been published for years as a free-lance journalist, but writing and getting a book published only happened a few years ago when I went to Egypt with my mom and my two young nephews, and decided to write a short story for them about our trip. The short story became a book which became a book series.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? Both environment and upbringing played a big part in my writing. I used to write plays for my brothers and me to act out for my long suffering parents. I also made up ghost stories for my younger brothers and their friends to entertain them. We had so many books that it was impossible not to love reading. Writing was a natural next step.
Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? I came back from Egypt, took a pen and writing pad one evening, sat and thought for a bit, and then wrote The Secret of the Sacred Scarab in red pen across the first page. That was how it began – the title first.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? I write Middle Grade fiction and although I also write historical romance under a pseudonym (Arabella Sheraton) and animal rescue stories, I love Middle Grade adventure. My young nephews fell into that age bracket when we went to Egypt and I think their awe and wonder at seeing the ancient splendour of Egypt, their excitement, how they found each day an adventure really struck me. This is the best time for kids, to learn, explore, and enjoy. I hope my books reflect that.
What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for? My first book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, was inspired by our trip to Egypt and the heroes by my two young nephews. The second book, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, is the continuation of the adventure and came about because by the time I’d finished the first book, I realised my young heroes had not saved the world yet. There was still more adventure to be had.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? Actually seeing the story and characters come to life, seeing each book completed, and planning the next one.
Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? I think every journey has some negative aspects. The only negative thing was when I sent out my first manuscript to 35 British agents, thinking in my total naivety that I would be hailed as the next JK Rowling. What a letdown when 33 wrote back (many just the standard rejection letter) to say no thanks, but two replied to me personally, said I could definitely write, and I should persevere. So I did.
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? Winning book awards and having people tell me how much they or their kids loved my book! Having my book published in other countries like Japan and soon China.
Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? When I first started out I made mistakes through sheer ignorance and spent far too much money on the wrong kind of marketing. Better luck second time around. I think I have honed my marketing plans.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? One thing new authors tend to ignore or think is not that important is having a superbly polished product. That is the biggest mistake ever. Make sure, above all else, that your manuscript reaches the highest standards of the publishing industry. Pay for a top editor, someone who has your interests at heart; don’t cling to the bits you love, listen to an expert who knows how a book should read – fluently and fluidly with no errors.
Who is your favorite author and why? I have so many books and I enjoy so many authors that I can’t actually choose one. But if I had to share the title of one brilliant book it would be The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. It has intrigue, murder, mystery, great plot development, superb character development, interesting plot devices, multiple points of view, and is just a totally satisfying read.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us? The biggest challenge facing authors today is feeling (quite rightly) that they will never make a dent in the industry, that their books will never be discovered, and wondering are they wasting their time writing. If a book is well written, with an intriguing plot and compelling characters, then it will be discovered. It might take a little longer, but most ‘overnight successes’ took a lot longer than overnight, even the Big Name Authors Writers must never sit back once a book is out there. Do something every day to spread the word about your book, either online or by word of mouth. Even if it is just one Tweet. And in the meantime, carry on with your books; keep on writing.
How many published books do you have? As a Middle Grade author I have two in my adventure series with the third one pending (and more on the way). As a romance novelist, I have seven books. As an animal book author I have two books.
Other Titles by Fiona Ingram (and pen name Arabella Sheraton)
Champ: My Story of Survival
Historical Regency Romance Box Set: 4 Authentic Regency Romance Novels
Lord Blackwood’s Valentine Ball: An Authentic Regency Romance
Married at Midnight: An Authentic Regency Romance
Miss Dashwood’s Dilemma: An Authentic Regency Romance
The Dangerous Duke: An Authentic Regency Romance
The Lady’s Revenge: An Authentic Regency Romance
The Poppy Project: How Fiji’s Most Famous Dog Got Saved
The Reluctant Bridegroom: An Authentic Regency Romance
The Wayward Miss Wainwright: An Authentic Regency Romance
*****The romances are all clean historical so no muddling of the waters with adult themes that clash with my MG adventures.