The Curse of the Tomb Robbers Blog Tour

Welcome to the final stop on the blog tour for these incredible books published by Nosy Crow in conjunction with The British Museum. I was so excited to ask Andy Seed a few questions about The Curse of the Tomb Robbers. Check out the Q&A below!

This is a fun and exciting book to read and it certainly keeps the reader busy. Where did the idea come from to create a book like this?

The British Museum wanted a book to help children understand hieroglyphs, which is quite a challenge as they are tricky and complex, so that was the starting point. Nosy Crow suggested that we could tackle it as a puzzle book, working in a story and lots of facts along the way. I came up with the narrative and developed the puzzles, ensuring that it would be visually exciting by including scenes covering various fascinating aspects of life in ancient Egypt, and making the most of James Weston-Lewis’s amazing skills as an illustrator. So basically it was a big team effort and the ideas very much evolved as we faced the challenge of revealing hieroglyphic mysteries along the way!

Part story, part non-fiction text, was it easy to fit the two together?

It’s actually not hard at all to tie together fact and fiction at a basic level but introducing fun puzzles which show children how to decode an ancient sign language along the way was the really hard bit! We needed help from the experts at the British Museum to find examples which were true to life but comprehensible for young readers, and that took some doing.

What type of research did you do to ensure you had your facts and story correct?

Naturally I visited the British Museum and spent a lot of time looking at mummies, coffins, tomb treasures, artefacts from everyday life 3,500 years ago and hieroglyphs too, of course (including the magical Rosetta Stone). Then I delved into LOTS of books about ancient Egypt, including some hefty and authoritative volumes about hieroglyphs which quickly revealed just what a task creating the puzzles was going to be. I also spent a lot of time going through old dictionaries of Egyptian words trying to find examples which worked for the story but were not too complex to decode in hieroglyphs.

Did you learn anything unexpected or surprising during your research?

Lots! The story of how historians and language experts unravelled the mystery of hieroglyphs is fascinating. They baffled the cleverest minds for many centuries and it was an immense feat of problem-solving to finally crack the code. Then, I learned that there really were curses written in tombs in Ancient Egypt, to try and scare off robbers – in fact the one in the book is word-for-word based on a real curse found by archaeologists near the Valley of the Kings. I learned lots more amazing things too – for example that some naughty pharaohs actually stole gold from the tombs of their ancestors to add to their riches!

The illustrations are ideal and perfectly suited to your text- what were your first thoughts on seeing them?

I knew they were going to be good but JUST WOW was my reaction when I saw what James was able to do. He is fantastic at portraying the scale of buildings and monuments, for example, and also brings alive figures superbly. But most of all he has a special style and skill with colour that evokes adventure and that vivid, stylish comic-book look which harks back to the era of classic films and illustrations.

Are you planning another book in this style? What part of history would you like to travel to?

Book 2 is on its way and will be set in Ancient Rome. The Plot Against the Emperor is another exciting puzzle mystery where readers have to crack the Latin code to help two intrepid Roman children to prevent the overthrow of the Emperor himself! Once again, it is going to be visually stunning, showing the glory of the great city of Rome 2,000 years ago. Crafty plans are taking shape for a third book too!

If I could travel in time, I would love to visit Ancient China. Those dudes were classy!

The Curse of the Tomb Robbers by Andy Seed, illustrated by James Weston Lewis, is published by Nosy Crow, out now, £12.99 hardback.

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