A wicked sense of humour.
A vivacious, witty female protagonist so delightfully lacking in self-awareness that you can't help but love her.
A fast-paced storyline packed with action and adventure for younger readers.
It's not often that you come across a kids' fiction book that ticks all the boxes in this happy trifecta of winning ingredients " and from a debut Australian author to boot.
Slave Girl is a truly entertaining romp through place and time that sticks out from the current raft of dystopian fiction like a sore thumb, and will appeal to both adults and children.
When thirteen-year-old Australian exchange student Jenna storms away from the rest of her class after an argument with her teacher in New York's Metropolitan Museum, things go very awry. Jenna finds herself suddenly transported from the ancient Egypt section to the middle of a party in actual Egypt … almost 3,500 years before her birth.
Once Jenna accepts she's really travelled back in time, she realises she has to work out a way home " with only her big mouth, a smart phone and a pair of second-hand designer sandals to get her out alive.
Debut author Alexa Moses has drawn on her journalistic and screenwriting skills (plus knowledge gathered from hours of lectures on ancient Egypt she listened to in the wee hours as the mother of a screaming newborn!) to deliver this page-turner for younger readers aged 10+.
Alexa Moses graduated with a Masters degree in screenwriting at the Australian Film Television and Radio school in 2001, convinced she wanted to write books and television, but ended up a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald instead.
Over her six years at the Herald, she worked as a features writer and entertainment reporter, stalking Nicole Kidman, writing about the Asian tsunami she survived, panthering her way through the deportment course Princess Mary took before becoming royalty, and receiving hate mail during her time as a film critic. More recently, she's been working as a screenwriter for international children's television and writing comic novels.
Harper Collins Australia
Author: Alexa Moses
Interview with Alexa Moses
Question: Why was it important to you to leave journalism and begin writing books?
Alexa Moses: Writing fiction was something I'd wanted to do ever since I was really young, from perhaps seven or eight years old and also, I got sick of writing about other people's creative work ... I wanted to produce my own! While I loved being a journalist, it made me realise I wanted to get my own stories out into the public eye.
Question: What do you enjoy most about writing for younger readers?
Alexa Moses: I don't think writing for younger readers is much different than writing for adults. All good fiction requires compelling characters and some sort of story and a writer with something to say.
By the time I was 13 years old, I was pretty much who I am now. I've always been anxious, organised, blunt and funny and those things haven't changed. Sure, being a teenager is a freaky, insecure time, and there's lots of experiences to come, but fundamentally, I am now who I was then. I can confirm this because I have my journals from year 7 through to year 10.
So writing for younger readers is the same as writing to amuse myself. If I'm excited, frustrated or bored with a scene I'm writing, I'm assuming a reader, whether younger or older, is too.
Question: Where did the idea for Slave Girl come from?
Alexa Moses: I was on my first trip to Europe, and I was walking through the Capitoline museum in Rome as it was closing. Somehow, I got lost and ended up on a balcony above the ruins of the forum, the major centre of ancient Rome. For a moment in the dusk, I think I actually believed I could wish myself back in time if I tried hard enough. The idea was simple but it gave me shivers, so I knew I should pursue it. After a little thought, I decided ancient Rome had been written about too many times, and I'd always wanted to learn about Egypt.
Question: What type of research did you do to set the book in ancient Egypt?
Alexa Moses: Lots! At first it was daunting, but I decided to start with the easiest books and dig deeper once I'd understood the basics. So I got a simple textbook, learnt about the vast tracts of time and different civilisations that make up what we call ancient Egypt, and started to read more deeply, both books and on the internet. The hardest bits of research were about niggly little things you'd never think of, such as what kind of door handles and locks did they have in New Kingdom Egypt? How did they store their food? What oil did they use to fuel their lamps in the 15th century BC?
Question: What was the best thing about creating the character of Jenna?
Alexa Moses: Her boldness. I enjoyed adventuring with her as I wrote the story. I drew her character from a few friends I had at that age and now, and she quickly took on a life of her own. Jenna's the kind of person I've always admired: gutsy, fun, free-wheeling and charming, she has a quality which sounds old-fashioned but should be revived - she has 'panache'. Still, her messiness, laziness and lack of organisation are significant drawbacks.