Saturday, June 21, 2014

Vampire Book Inspired By Images In Egypt's Zodiac of Dendera

Author/Guest Blogger Elise Walters

Building Tentyrian Legacy from the ruins of Dendera

Guest post by Elise Walters, author of Tentyrian Legacy

The inspiration for my debut novel, Tentyrian Legacy, started brewing when I was eighteen-years-old. My father took me to Paris as a high-school graduation gift and we went to the Louvre Museum. It was there I saw the Zodiac of Dendera for the first time. (Zodiac of Dendera is an Egyptian bas-relief on the chapel ceiling inside the Hathor Temple at Dendera. It was dedicated to Osiris). 

I was fascinated by the sandstone bas-relief that represented a night skyscape. It features a disc, held up by four women and falcon-headed spirits. Inside the circular disc are constellations that include the signs of the zodiac (Cancer, Leo, Sagittarius, Libra, Virgo, Aquarius, Aries, Gemini, Taurus, Scorpio, Pisces, and Capricorn). I shelved away this inspiring visual until six years later when I found myself a slave to my job in advertising.
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It was on a long train ride home from work when the image of the Dendera Zodiac popped into my head again. I asked myself, could I create a fictional story around the zodiac that I’d want to read? 

To write my book, I started with the four maidens in the corners of the zodiac’s circle. I envisioned them as beautiful women reigning as vampire princesses with supernatural powers. I imagined their mother as Queen Hathor (the namesake behind the temple where the carving was found) and the signs of the zodiac in the center of the circle as vampire covens (twelve in total). 

I dove into the history of Dendera starting around 50 B.C.—the approximate dating of the zodiac carving’s origin. I learned that Dendera or “Tentyra” in Greek was once the capital of the 6th Nome (Pharaonic province) of Upper Egypt. 2.5 km south-west of the modern town today called Dendera on the west bank of the Nile is a Greco-Roman temple complex known in ancient Egypt as Iunet or Tantere. It is this temple complex that contains the Temple of Hathor where the zodiac carving once lived before it was crudely removed with saws and gunpowder by the French in 1820. 

From this history I built the world of “Tentyris” and the “Tentyrians.” While the Tentyrians are completely fictional—they must drink blood to survive, possess supernatural abilities and are blessed with eternal youth as long as they avoid severe injury (such as decapitation). Creating their fictional lives was a labor of love. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed writing it! 

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