Today I’m interviewing Ross McAllister, the archaeologist hero of my November release ‘Her Only Option’. We're on the Nile cruise ship, the Lady Amirah, and I've just caught him before he goes upstairs to the sundeck. As he's wearing a blue shirt over his swimming trunks, I assume he's going for a swim, but he's promised me five minutes first.
Professor McAllister, can you tell us more about the work you’re doing in the Valley of the Kings?
We’re exploring a tunnel in the tomb of Senhotep the First. It leads from the burial chamber and was first discovered about forty years ago, but after they’d opened up about a hundred metres, they couldn’t get any further.
They were heading in the wrong direction.
What makes you think you’re heading in the right direction?
We weren’t sure until we found 52 steps leading into a lower part of the tunnel. We’ve also unearthed some funerary figures and a stone fragment with Senhotep’s name.
What are you hoping to find at the end of the tunnel?
We know the sarcophagus in the burial chamber was empty, but we have no idea where the Pharaoh’s remains are. The tunnel may have been intended to fool the tomb robbers, or it may lead to another burial chamber, or it may simply represent the king’s route through the underworld. We won’t know until we reach the end. If we reach the end.
Yes, I understand you have some problems with financing your work, since Stephen Lingard withdrew his funding. Can you tell us why he did that?
I’m sure you’ve already read the gossip columns. Stephen’s daughter, Sophie, and I ended our engagement a few weeks ago. A mutual decision, I assure you, but unfortunately her father blamed me and accused me of publicly humiliating his daughter. After that, of course, he pulled the plug on his funding.
And you have no alternative source of funding?
We’re putting out various feelers at present, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
In the meantime, you’re about to take a trip up the Nile here on the Lady Amirah. Why?
Why not? (Hollow laugh from Ross). Actually, this trip was supposed to be part of my honeymoon. I could have cancelled it, but I’ve given my team two weeks’ leave, and I haven’t had any break in the last three months, so I thought I might as well spend a relaxing week on the cruise.
Maybe you’ll meet someone else with a rich daddy who will finance your work?
Oh no, I’ve absolutely no intention of getting involved with another woman, with or without a rich daddy. Sophie told me I was married to my work, and she's right. I doubt any woman would understand my passion for Ancient Egypt, so I'll concentrate on my work, assuming I can find some new funding, of course. And now, if you've finished, I'd like to go up to the sundeck.
(He flings his towel over one shoulder and takes the stairs two at a time)
Could those be ‘famous last words’ for our hero, or is this the beginning of his story?
‘Her Only Option’ will be released by Whiskey Creek Press next month.