Monday, December 22, 2014

Cheryl Carpinello, Sons of the Sphinx

Author: Cheryl Carpinello
Title: Sons of the Sphinx
Genre: PreTeen/YA Time Travel Adventure
Publisher: Beyond Today Educator
Buy Links:
Tattered Cover Bookstores:

Please tell us about yourself:  I’m a twice-retired high school English teacher. I taught for 25 years and would gladly have taught for another 25 if I could have figured out how to teach writing without grading any more freshman first essays and senior research papers! I easily graded close to 900 final essays/papers each year not including at least 2 rough drafts per each! I’m also a retired airline employee. Currently, I’m an Ambassador for Denver International Airport.

I’m a Colorado native, and my husband and I have two children, two grandsons, and a grand-daughter due later this month.

Please tell us your latest news.

In September 2014, Sons of the Sphinx received the Literary Classics Seal of Approval for Recommended Reading. Then in October 2014, Sons of the Sphinx was awarded the Silver Medal by Literary Classics in PreTeen Fiction. I am so excited for it!

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I consider myself a full-time writer even though I’m not always putting words on paper. During my college years and my teaching years, I didn’t always have an opportunity to sit down and write. I do a lot of my writing in my head. It sounds crazy, I know, but I’ve found it an effective way to write every day. When I put pen to paper—Yes, I still handwrite all my first drafts!—the words and the story come easy.

My writer’s block comes when my brain keeps throwing out ideas that don’t work. For Sons of the Sphinx, I threw out ideas for a couple of months until I found the way to tell the story. Writing the first draft went fairly quickly after that.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

I love traveling. In September 2014, my husband and I spent three weeks driving through England, Wales, and Scotland.

Spending time with our growing family is a must and always a treat.

I enjoy reading fiction and non-fiction, and I’m usually reading 4 or 5 books at a time. This is a habit left over from teaching five literature classes each year and keeping up on the reading.

What is your marketing plan?

While my stories appeal to readers aged 9-15, my target audience falls into two categories. My Arthurian Legend stories are aimed at reluctant readers in grades 3-6/7. My Ancient Egyptian stories are aimed at reluctant readers in grades 7-12. And while Medieval times and the Ancient Egyptians appeal to a wider audience, my specific readers do not buy on the Internet.

Attending holiday/craft marts allows me to meet a number of young readers including the reluctant readers. Medieval Writing Workshops in the schools and with the Girl Scouts is another avenue to reach readers. I’m also the storyteller for the Colorado Medieval Festival each June.

What is your current project?

I’m writing the sequel to my first story, Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend. This tells the tale of the Princess Guinevere at the age of 12 and her friend Cedwyn who is seven. The second book continues the story, but the characters are older. Guinevere is 15 and Cedwyn is nearly 11. My readers wanted to hear more of what happened to Guinevere after her betrothal to Arthur and to see if Cedwyn becomes a knight. Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend—Cedwyn’s Story takes place during Arthur’s struggle to unite all of Britain. The dangers to Guinevere and Cedwyn allow me to show the growth of Cedwyn and the role he will play in the future.

What do you plan for the future?
I’ve a list of projects on my website Beyond Today Educator. My next scheduled project is the adventure trilogy The Feather of the Phoenix. Books include The Atlantean Horse, The Ashes of Pompeii, and The Norse Star.

Where can we find you?
Writing Blog:

Independent Author Network:

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
Sons of the Sphinx is a dangerous time travel adventure set in Ancient Egypt. Here’s a brief look at it:
Armed with what she considers her grandmother’s curse, 15-year-old Rosa agrees to help the ghost of King Tut find his lost queen Hesena. Though Hesena’s ba inhabits part of Rosa, finding the whole spirit of Hesena so that she and Tut can be together for the first time in over 3000 years proves to be a harder task than Rosa first thinks. Thrust back into Ancient Egypt with Tut, Rosa discovers that finding Hesena is not all she must do. She must keep out of the reach of the living Horemheb—who crosses mortal boundaries using Seth’s evil magic—if she is to stay alive to make it back home.

What is your experience working or being around children or teens?
I spent 25 years teaching English at the high school. Teaching grades 9-12 gives me a unique perspective on the growth (mental, emotional, and physical) of teens. Since my retirement from teaching, I conduct writing workshops at the other end of the age spectrum: Kindergarten through 8th grade. I been doing this for 7 years.

What influences your writing?
Aside from my work with students of all ages, I would have to cite Joseph Campbell’s books The Hero With A Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth. Both of these works deal with the Hero’s Journey as defined by Campbell. The basic idea revolves around the individual’s search for self and meaning and the recurring myths in this world that connect all of us. My books all deal with the Hero’s Journey, and each of my characters is a hero in some form, as are my readers.

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?
Embedded within all of my characters’ adventures is their quest to find themselves. This is for them the first time they’ve really been able to explore their place in the world. My readers are also experiencing this in their lives. However, my books don’t preach or shout this out loud; instead, this journey is couched in an exciting and often dangerous adventure. This type of story offers readers a type of catharsis the old Greek playwrights used: Letting the audience experience the emotions of the characters, while remaining somewhat safe. Those plays also carried individual meaning for each of the audience members and were very popular.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Figuring out how to tell this story. I thought I had it several times. One of those times resulted in the short historical Tutankhamen Speaks. Then one day I discovered Rosa—the main character—and found the story I had really wanted to tell.

Where would we find you when youre totally relaxing?
 Sitting on the beach in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico!

Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?
 My writing cave is supposed to be the bedroom off the living room, but this is also my oldest grandsons room and the toy room for both grandsons! I usually do my writing on the couch or on the patio in the summer.

Excerpt from Chapter 16 of Sons of the Sphinx by Cheryl Carpinello

Well, here we are again. Tut, several yards ahead of me, moves with ease over the sand along a faint path. Me, once more I find myself plowing through the sand, stopping frequently to empty the desert from my shoes. If that’s not enough, water’s pouring down my entire body. The bottom of my t-shirt tied over the top of my head is soaked and only keeps the sun from searing my brain. If nothing else, I have to get home in time to shower before my parents get there. Unless, of course, the time wrap cleans me up. Now that would be something.
We have been climbing steadily for a while now. Somewhere ahead of us lies the Western Valley in this field of tombs and Ay’s resting place. Hopefully, the answers we need are there too. Time is running out for us and for her. Since bringing us to this time, I have felt nothing inside. I shudder to think what will happen if she is gone; I mean really gone. Will Tut disappear also? Will he forget to take me home? I laugh softly. Not likely. After all, how can he forget about me after all the complaining I’ve done? Between you and me, that’s the only way I can deal with the frustrations I know we both feel and with my fears. Fear of not going home, fear of General Horemheb, fear for Tut, and fear for her.
I wonder at times if my feelings for Tut have weakened her. I don’t know if he’s aware of them, but she must know. Hesena can’t approve, but she hasn’t punished me. I mean, it’s not like I wanted this to happen. We have been together for almost four straight days here.
It wouldn’t work between us. I know that. I’m not an idiot. He loves Hesena, and she him. I can feel that.
Sighing, I shake my head. I can just hear the conversation with my mother if I told her of my feelings for Tut.
“Rosa. You can’t love this boy. You’re too young to know what love is. And he just wouldn’t be right for you. I mean, he’s so much older.”
Older! Only by about three thousand years!
“It’s your first experience with boys. It’s called a crush. You’ll see. You’ll outgrow it and will thank me later.”
Well, this may be a crush, but just try to tell my insides that when he looks at me with those dark eyes and touches me. Why does growing up have to be so complicated?
I come out of my daydreams to see Tut stopped ahead. I hurry up to him.
“There,” he points.
The path leads down to a small valley. At the far edge is a tall cliff wall. From this distance, it is easy to see a disturbance in the natural contours of the valley. Rocks and sand are strewn around in unnatural patterns.
“That’s it?”
“Yes. That is where Ay waits.” He takes off at a fast pace.
Following, I silently wonder if someone else also waits. It’s been a long time since we’ve heard from Horemheb. Maybe his magic, like Tut’s powers, can’t work in this valley. Or, maybe he’s just been waiting to get us all together. Either way, I can feel those footsteps my grandmother talked about approaching my grave again.

Author Bio

Cheryl Carpinello is a retired high school English teacher who loves the ancient and medieval worlds. It is because of her teaching career that she has chosen to write stories to encourage reluctant young readers to pick up a book more often. She found that in the classroom, students would read the Arthurian Legend literature when they would read nothing else. This experience led to her Arthurian tales that have now expanded into the ancient worlds.


  1. Wow! Four or five books at a time! And I thought I was weird for reading two at the same time!

    Nice excerpt!

  2. One of the hazards of being an English major! Thanks for stopping by, Cheryl. Merry Christmas.

  3. Penny, thank you so much for hosting me! Hope your Holidays are bright!

  4. Great interview Penny and Cheryl, and congratulations Cheryl for your fantastic awards. As a full-time teacher I know how hard and how frustrating it is to find time to write. Completing a story takes me ages. Good luck with Sons of the Sphinx.

    1. Hi Marie. Thanks so much for taking the time to visit. Happy New Year!

  5. Very enjoyable interview, ladies. Cheryl, congrats on those stellar awards for Sons of the Sphinx. I see your wonderful imagination has been at it again. Best wishes for your continued success, and a Happy New Year to you.

    1. Hi Pat. Thanks for stopping by. I've met so many wonderful people through Muse. Happy New Year!