Meet the Author: June 2014

Michael prats about with the Rosetta Stone

The author prats about at the British Museum, pretending to decipher the Rosetta Stone

It’s June, and as I write, Malane and I have just returned from a community preview of a new exhibition at the British Museum. Malane, as you know, runs this website for me. Ancient Lives, New Discoveries concentrates on eight specific mummies from Egypt and the Sudan, spanning a period of approximately 5,000 years from pre-dynastic Egypt to the early Christian era. What a fantastic exhibition! The latest scanning technology (combined in some cases with 3D printing) is what really drives this show, and it just goes to prove how far we’ve come from the days when mummies were routinely unwrapped for study, often with disastrous results.

A number of the mummies come from what’s known as the Third Intermediate Period (after the fall of the 19th and 20th Ramassean Dynasties). One of these had a coffin that has clearly been lengthened by jamming a crude, unadorned extension on to the foot—which suggests to me that it was not made-to-measure but had been purchased “off-the-peg”. There’s another that hails from the even later Roman period, which Malane and I both immediately recognised as the mummy in my article on mummification. If you look, he’s the one on top. Malane discovered a rather nice example of a heart scarab, and I found a blow-by-blow account of how the Ancient Egyptians could die from tooth decay (which might have been lifted directly from The Scarab Heart—if you’ve read the book you will remember that Merit’s grandfather dies from complications that arise from an abscessed tooth).

The museum is running a number of special events to coincide with the exhibition, including a Curse of the Mummy day on Friday June 13th. So this month’s article, Tut’s Curse: Death Shall Come on Swift Wings, feels especially timely. Although Tutankhamun plays only a very minor role in my novel—and the discovery of his tomb comes 37 years after The Scarab Heart is set—I just couldn’t resist writing about a curse!

Why the Victorians Saw Ghosts

This month also sees my set of posts about 19th Century Spiritualism reach its conclusion on my history blog, The Victorians Unveiled. The book that these posts spawned, the ever-popular Why the Victorians Saw Ghosts – An Illustrated Guide to 19th Century Spiritualism, retails for US$2.99 in most online stores, but you can download it for free from You set the price, so make sure you set it at zero. [Sorry, this offer is no longer available.]

Remember, you can always message me on the Contact Me form or send me an email; I really look forward to hearing from you and I will happily answer any of your questions, regardless of whether you’ve read my books or not. It helps keep me on my toes!

Happy reading!