While researching QUEEN OF KINGS, a novel which braids the historic events surrounding the death of Cleopatra with magic, gods, monsters, witches and warfare, I found myself stuck in a research vortex.
Cleopatra offers her soul to an immortal in an attempt to save her beloved Mark Antony, and her country, but in the selling things go terribly wrong, and she’s transformed into a ferocious, bloodthirsty creature who cannot die.
Which goddess should she bargain with?
I knew that what I was looking for existed in the classical world – Lamia, hybrid serpent/maiden blood-drinkers are referenced in Greek mythology, for example – but I wasn’t sure what I’d find in the ancient Egyptian pantheon.
Ra’s daughter, the first vampire, awaited me.
Sekhmet, one of the most ancient Egyptian goddesses, is usually depicted as a lion-headed woman. She famously functioned as a warrior and defender of pharaohs, but initially, Ra sent her to earth to punish human betrayers. In a frenzy of slaughter, Sekhmet nearly destroyed all of humanity by drinking their blood, until Ra laced the waters of the Nile with alcohol and dyed them blood red with pomegranate juice in order to trick her. Sekhmet drank the Nile’s waters and was captured.
It was only a small step from that legend to my story featuring a thwarted and still bloodthirsty goddess, seeking a millennium’s worth of delayed vengeance on Mankind.
About the author: Maria Dahvana Headleyis the author of Queen of Kings, the first in a trilogy of historical fantasies about Cleopatra, and The Year of Yes, a memoir of a year in which she went out on a date with everyone who asked her. The only thing these two books have in common is that they are both filled with references to love and to libraries.