Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Molly Best Tinsley and Karetta Hubbard - Satan's Chamber - Author Interview

About the Book

He was a crack CIA operative, who vanished from the streets of Khartoum, Sudan.

And he was her father.

She followed him into the Agency’s National Clandestine Service, and now despite her junior status, she gets the assignment she covets: Khartoum.

From the minute Victoria Pierce arrives in-country, nothing is what it seems.

The one-eyed Kendacke, descendant of the first female black pharaohs, is a fugitive in her own land. Bart Wilkins, the buff but bumbling supply officer at the Embassy, keeps turning up one step ahead. The super-rich Adam Marshall has information, but it comes with strings attached.

Whom can she trust as she begins to uncover the pieces of a horrific plan? Thus the mystery begins.

Author Interview

1. Why did you choose this setting?
The settings for Satan’s Chamber are real places, one intimately familiar to us, Washington, DC, and one completely unknown, Sudan, Africa. We selected the latter for two reasons.

First, for its rich historical background centering on the sacred mountain Jebel Barkal, which the ancient Egyptians believed was the birthplace of their gods. In its shadow, an early female Black Pharaoh led her people into battle against the Egyptian aggressors, and won. Based on this impressive woman, we created a modern character, dedicated to saving her people, named for her royal ancestor, Kendacke. The second reason we chose Sudan involves the discovery in the late 1980’s of oil underneath its soil, which has prompted both exploitation by external forces and internal violence. This greed and lawlessness lend an evil energy to our action-packed thriller, which begins when our protagonist, Victoria Pierce, junior officer in the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, is posted to Sudan.

2. How is it a fundamental part of your overall theme?
The dual nature of Sudan was ready-made for a story about heroes and villains-- the contrast between its homicidal government, greedy for oil, and the displaced anonymous tribes, the victims, who retain their humanity and grace in the face of persecution. The most important location in the book, the sacred mountain Jebel Barkal, is also a symbol of the theme—the promise of unity and hope in the midst of dark conflict.

3. How challenging was it to write about?
The biggest challenge was working out the logistics—getting our characters from one place in Sudan to another plausibly, given the vast distances, primitive modes of transportation, and the time constraints of the story. We also had to work with the eleven-hour time difference between the two continents.

4. How did you develop your setting as you wrote your book?
We used the satellite maps and the posted photos on GoogleEarth a lot, to get a feel for the lay of the land. We also read numerous blogs by English-speaking travelers who passed through Sudan. Thank god for the adventurous kids who rode or hitchhiked from one end of Africa to the other, then wrote about it online! We did not travel to Sudan, given that there were advisories against it.

5. How do you transport readers there through your writing?
The challenge of wrapping a setting around the reader requires fully imagining yourself in the situation of each character, checking in with all five senses. For example, Bart Wilkins, one of our key characters is stranded in the desert in the morning and has to get to Port Sudan by the end of the day. It is at least an eight-hour journey by car, and he is on foot, with little water, no cell phone, and 20 kilometers away from a train that travels to Port Sudan. The sun beats down mercilessly and the sand is hot. Once he makes it inside the crowded train, the smells of bodies and foods are overwhelming. How does all that register on the senses?

6. How do you introduce readers to an area they may not be familiar with and bring it to life?
Again, through images that appeal to all five senses. We describe the heat, sweat, sand, the food smells in the market places, the rich colors of the attire, the musty interior of underground chambers. In DC, by contrast, there is opulence, elegance. Real-life archaeologist Tim Kendall, who has excavated the temples around Jebel Barkal, made sure we included an auditory event which dominates the Muslim regions of Sudan: the call to prayer, broadcast five times a day from different mosques.


Satan's Chamber can be purchased at:
Fuze Publishing

Price: $19.95 hardcover, $14.95 paperback, $5.99 ebook
ISBN: 9780984141203
Pages: 294
Release: August 2009

About the Authors

Air Force brat Molly Best Tinsley taught on the civilian faculty at the United States Naval Academy for twenty years and is the institution’s first professor emerita. Author of My Life with Darwin (Houghton Mifflin) and Throwing Knives (Ohio State University Press), she also co-authored Satan’s Chamber (Fuze Publishing) and the textbook, The Creative Process (St. Martin’s). Her fiction has earned two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sandstone Prize, and the Oregon Book Award. Her plays have been read and produced nationwide. She lives in Oregon, where she divides her time between Ashland and Portland.


As a businesswoman and entrepreneur, Karetta Hubbard has more than twenty-five years of experience in consulting, strategic management, and organizational change for companies throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Japan. Having recently turned to literary endeavors, Ms. Hubbard credits her five grandchildren as her inspiration and encouragement to put pen to paper.

As an active member of the Washington, DC community, Ms. Hubbard has held appointments at the Small Business Advisory Council (SBA), the Tyson Business and Professional Women Foundation (BPW), and the Fairfax County Democratic Committee. Ms. Hubbard attended the University of Virginia and received her B.A. degree from George Mason University. She also attended Catholic University’s Graduate School in Social Work.

Connect with Molly and Karetta:
Satan's Chamber Web Site
Satan's Chamber Goodreads
Fuze Publishing Web Site
Fuze Publishing Blog
Fuze Publishing Facebook
Fuze Publishing Twitter