Book Blitz Excerpt, Interview & Giveaway for The Blazing Star by Imani Josey

Brooke Banks | 1:00 AM | | | | |

About the Book


Title: The Blazing Star
Author: Imani Josey
Publisher: Wise Ink
Genre(s): Young Adult

Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius. But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again? She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow. Great. Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger. As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.

His words ran together, muffling as if underwater. Enunciate, I wanted to tell him—we had that kind of relationship—but my mouth was the driest sand. My heart raced as needling ripples spread across my palm, tiny pinpricks followed by pulsating heat. My classmates watched Mr. Pomey, oblivious to my discomfort as the scarab’s shine amplified to painful brilliance, its blue like gleaming waves crashing overtop each other. And in this blazing sheen the tiny figures on the scarab, the ancient hieroglyphs, became comprehensible script. To my beloved, the blessings of Amun, I read, as that uncomfortable heat ignited me from the inside out.

The evening dimness blackened still. My heart rate sped as I could no longer see my hand, let alone the streetlamps’ glow. I called out again, feeling as if I was lost in the darkest cave when vivid light pierced the nothing. The beams shone onto the bedroom walls, taking the shapes and lines of exotic animals. Elephants roamed grassland flaring their trunks. Prey dangled in the teeth of a tree-climbing leopard. A crane’s long beak snapped a snake in two and devoured the pieces. Water flowed through the grasses beneath them, and the sun hovered above like an angry ball of fire. The fireball swelled as the waters steadily rose, threatening to drown or burn them to ashes.

The sound cutting through the quiet may as well have been thunder crashing in a summer storm. Still within hearing distance, the soldier immediately stopped. His hand found the hilt of his sword as he looked about him. “Who’s out there?” he called. “By Ma’at, I won’t harm you if you are peaceful.” I sat in the mud for a moment, holding the sides of my head to steady it. My fingers massaged my temples before running through my hair. Thick texture greeted my hands, my short hair having reverted to its springy coils. I’d laid in the mud and dampness too long. So much for my press, I thought.

Sikara’s index finger moved across my skin. Her touch was lighter than expected but still sent a painful shiver through me. I yelped and withdrew my hand before we locked eyes. The gaze that met mine was stunning, prettier than even my twin’s. Gold specks glowed through her dark irises like hungry embers in ash, and she regarded me with raw fascination. I held her stare, watching those embers crackle. “Heka,” she said, more calmly than before. “Tasherit, please.” Tasherit bowed gracefully and slipped out of the room. When she’d gone, I once again became that bruised melon in the market—though perhaps now a unique bruised melon. Sikara stepped away from me, returning to the business at her table. “Only heka achieves what you did,” she said.

The wooden doors—painted with the knowing eyes of Ma’at and Thoth—were as sealed as they’d been before. The thrum in my heart was also a pounding in my ears, only giving me vague awareness of Seti slamming his hands against the unyielding wood. “What is this?” he shouted at himself, now thrusting his shoulder against the wooden barriers. Flecks of paint splintered from the doors’ surface, chipping under spreading frost. He’d barely seen rain. What would Seti know of ice?

Music Playlist- Portia’s Playlist

  • Too Close- Alex Clare
  • Falling – Jamiroquai
  • Troubles- Alicia Keys
  • It Must be Magic- Teena Marie
  • Butterflyz- Alicia Keys
  • Lights- Ellie Goulding
  • We Found Love- Rihanna
  • You Don’t Know My Name- Alicia Keys
  • I Was Here-Beyonce
  • Umbrella- Rihanna
  • Seven Nation Army- The White Stripes

About the Author

    • Imani Josey is a writer from Chicago, Illinois. In her previous life, she was a cheerleader for the Chicago Bulls and won the titles of Miss Chicago and Miss Cook County for the Miss America Organization, as well as Miss Black Illinois USA. Her one-act play, Grace, was produced by Pegasus Players Theatre Chicago after winning the 19th Annual Young Playwrights Festival. In recent years, she has turned her sights to long-form fiction. She now spends the majority of her time working on backstory, teaching dance fitness classes, and cuddling with her American bulldog, Thor. The Blazing Star is her debut novel.
Connect With the Author!

What kind of research and resources did you use for The Blazing Star?
I researched the old fashioned way, going to the library, combing through encyclopedias and books. I also am a fan of historical fiction, which helped me understand weaving history into a narrative. I can't say that the research took 6 months or a year, so something like that, as I did the necessary research as I went along.
What is your favorite historical or mythological aspect of Egypt?
Wow, good question. Again, there’s just a lot to draw from. I liked playing around with the concept of heka (magic) in The Blazing Star. I enjoyed heka's many interpretations, from deification (being a an actual god or goddess), to the practice and use of magic, to even medicine. In my book, heka is used to understand Portia's journey through time, and the source of some new abilities she discovers once she arrives there.
Have you been to Egypt or have plans to go soon?
I haven’t been, but I do plan to go. I wonder the kinds of feelings I'll have when I see the things I write about, from the architecture and art, to the sun setting over the Nile.
How did The Blazing Star start? Was there a specific idea, scene, or character?
Another great question. The bones came when I was a kid, when I wrote a story about three girls that journeyed to an alternate dimension and realized that they were faerie princesses. Some years later, I decided I wanted to rework that concept into a YA fantasy. I was in grad school when the first scene popped in my head of this badass girl with a mask sword fighting a la Zorro. I edited that scene a lot, but it's still in the book (Chapter 28- Swordplay). That girl was Portia, my protagonist, and she was the first character that wanted to make her presence known. Alex came next, and their sister relationship followed.
What was the hardest part of writing The Blazing Star?
Finishing it.
What do you think Portia, Alex, and Selene would say about you?
Mariah Carey voice: Why are you obsessed with me? In all seriousness, I think the girls would say that I gave them agency and allowed them to be wonderful but incredibly human characters. There's a piece of myself, and my sisters, in all of them, so in many ways they're art imitating life.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I would spend time with Sikara! She’s crazy and I love her. I'm enjoying watching reviews come in, and seeing that people are resonating with her character. She's brash and bold, but also wise and intuitive. What would we do during the day? Hmmm. Could we go to a party? I feel like she'd be a lot of fun to go to a party with, until she probably got bored and would want to sword fight. Or maybe I could take her to my high school reunion?
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything?
Not a chance. It was hard, don’t get me wrong. But this was the right decision.My biggest challenges were (one) learning to write a proper book, and (two) getting it out there. I had to find the right editors. I had to make writer friends. I had to fend off my own ego and remember I had/have A LOT to learn. Once I was on my way artistically, financing the book to have it properly produced was a challenge, before I decided to go indie AND after. I sold my car in the middle of my first round of line edits. And when I went indie, I won’t lie to you, (if you want a book to look like it could sit on the shelves at Barnes and Noble), the process is not cheap. I zapped my savings, and made a lot of personal sacrifices. But when you have a dream that won’t let go, when it’s your passion, you see it through. If you don’t have your dreams, what do you have?
Can you tell us some of the changes The Blazing Star went through before publishing?
The book's portion in high school was longer. Also, Portia and Alex weren't twins at first. The priestesses, with the exception of Weret, played a less prominent role.
How far along is the next installment? Any news on that front to share?
It's done, about ready for editing. I would say to expect more Sikara, more Portia, more magic, and more answers. It will also be longer than the first book.
Writing and reading tend to be a stationary activities, any tips to share with us non-fitness professionals?
I haven't had a fitness question in awhile! I would categorize myself as a creative. I love to keep moving. Dancing and writing have always been my outlets to channel that energy. I prefer cardio to weights, but my advice to beginner is to take it slow. As a writer, you're often hunched over at a desk, typing all day. Remember to get up every 45 minutes or so and walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. 10-30 minutes a day of altering your routine will really go a long way.
What book are you reading now?
Just finished The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Choski. I'm currently reading Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare.
Favorite book?
Too many. I'll answer that by mentioning a book that changed my life: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. I read this book in the fourth grade, and I've kept a copy ever since. It's about personal growth and evolution, and perhaps the sacrifices and challenges we face as we become more actualized people. Short, quick read, but powerful.
Song that’s stuck in your head right now?
I've been listening to the entire Bruno Mars album (24K Magic) since it came out. My favorite tracks change, but right now they're “Calling All my Lovelies” and “That’s What I Like.”
Dragons or unicorns?
Superpower of choice?
What are you afraid of?
Failure, heights, flying insects that sting.

I'm glad to hear more Sikara is forthcoming! I love her sense of humor, don't you? I wonder how she felt about The Star Touched Queen...

What did ya'll think? Feel you know her better? Any other questions you want to add?

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