Spotlight: The Freedman and the Pharoah’s Staff by Lane Heymont (spotlight, guest post)

the freedman and the pharoah's staffThe Freedman and the Pharoah’s Staff
written by Lane Heymont
published by Sunbury Press

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: Jeb, a former slave, rescues his brother-in-law Crispus from the Ku Klux Klan, pulling him into a world of Creole Voodoo, hatred, time travel, and redemption. The two brothers-in-law set out to stop Verdiss and his Klan followers from using the Pharaoh’s Staff, a magical artifact from ancient Egypt. Soon, Jeb and Crispus learn Verdiss’ diabolical plan and discover that he is working for an even more evil force. In the end Jeb and Crispus must stop the eradication of an entire people and each must find redemption for his own past sins.


Every Free Chance Book Reviews is pleased to welcome Lane Heymont, author of The Freedman and the Pharoah’s Staff, to the blog today. He has prepared the following guest post for all of you.

I’d like to start by thanking Chrissy for letting me come on and ramble about my new book The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff.

Writing The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff was a trial of passion.  I was inspired by Frederick Douglass’s first biography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which I studied in an African-American literature class during undergrad.

I said it was a trial, and it was, because at the time I began writing the novel I was still in college full-time and working full-time. It was as impossible as you probably think it was. Between a relationship, school, and work, I wrote infrequently.  Sometimes, I thought I would never finish, that I was chasing a pipe dream.  The only thing that kept me dedicated to The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff was my passion for the story. The necessity for research in order to make this historical fantasy as real as the genre would permit only made my writing more infrequent.  Research, research, research, write.  School, work, life, write.  Research, research, research, write.  You get the idea.

Since I didn’t live on campus I usually had a couple of hours to kill in between classes each day.  So, I frequented the school library like an addict.  The same table, laptop open, and half a dozen books sprawled out before me.  There were a lot of irritated glances from people who needed seats, but in order to finish writing The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff I needed to be selfish.

By the time I graduated college with a BA in Liberal Arts with a concentration on literature and double minors in psychology and business I was half way done with my book.  Something clicked in me, this unexplainable force demanded I finish the novel, so I sat my rear end in a chair for about two months and finished The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff.

I’ve heard a number of literary agents say, “Don’t brag it to you years to write your book. It’s not a good sign.” Usually, I agree, but with “life happening” it took me about four years to finish The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff, and I’m proud of those four years.  The process may have taken much less time if that creature called Research wasn’t so obnoxiously, though rightly, possessive.

After finishing my grand, full-scale adventure into prose, I felt the need for a “break”, perhaps not an actual break.  I began writing short stories again as I so often did as a child. However, having just finished writing a novel, I found myself having to shift gears. It goes without saying, but short stories are quite different than novels. There’s less time to indulge in character and plot development.

I think of writing novels and writing short stories as two separate skills.  A novel is the beginning of a character’s destiny—the moment at which his or her life shall never be the same, for better or worse.  We are along for the ride of a lifetime, and can explore every facet of our characters, whereas in a short story we are only afforded a brief snippet of a character’s life.  Instead of being able to focus on a number of characters, exploring their inner thoughts and feelings, we only see (and it’s best this way) the world through the eyes of one character.  It boils down to the amount of “time” or pages available to paint a world.

Take for example my short story The Lost Continent, which was recommended for a Bram Stoker Award.  I wrote it in one sitting. A few hours and I produced a disturbing horror story that was bought by the first publisher queried.  Granted it’s the only short story I’ve written in a single session, they usually take me a few days or a week at most, but you get the idea.  Short stories simply have their own nuance as opposed to novels.

When I graduated college I had no idea how I was going to utilize my minors in psychology and business. I wasn’t a businessman and dreaded being one, and there isn’t much a minor in psychology can afford you career-wise.  Yet, both helped my writing immensely.

Even fictional characters need to function in realistic manners. My education in psychology bypassed that silly literary notion that our characters have to make sense. Real people don’t make sense, so why should our imaginary people?

Carl Jung said that a person is comprised of opposites.  So, when a beta reader commented on the “absurdity” of the antagonist Verdiss’s story arc, I didn’t pay much attention, because psychologically, and in our world, it works.

However, characters that don’t make sense must make sense. I suggest all writers delve into theories of psychology, especially Jung and his Red Book.

I was surprised to find how much a minor in business helped my writing.  Understanding the intricacies of economic theories provided a more realistic window into the Reconstruction-era economy in The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff. The 1870’s were a time plagued by political and pecuniary upheaval with sharecroppers, carpetbaggers, and rich Southerners now reduced to poverty. It was another strike of realism that contributed to many of the Klansmen’s motivation, and the world’s overall nuance.

In the end, never underestimate the power of anything worth knowing.




About the author: Lane Heymont is the author of The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff, a time travel adventure set in post Civil War Louisiana. Born in Pennsylvania, he earned a BA in Liberal Arts with a focus on literature and history. He also holds a double minor in psychology and business. Currently pursing a Masters in Creative Writing at Harvard University, he has had several short stories published, one of which was recommended for a 2012 Bram Stoker Award.
Find Mr. Heymont here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads


Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!