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Time Traveling Cat

Updated on December 30, 2016

The Pharaoh's Cat by Maria Luisa Lang

The Pharaoh's Cat by Maria Luisa Lang is a book about a time traveling cat named Wrappa-Hamen which is narrated in the present tense by the cat himself. The story follows Wrappa-Hamen as he acquires certain powers that allow him to rise from homelessness to his respected position as the young Pharaoh’s constant companion. This position allows the cat to befriend the High Priest of the god Amun-Ra and a quire an enemy in the Vizier. The enmity of the Vizier eventually forces Wrappa-Hamen into fleeing where he ends up in New York City in present time.

The Pharaoh's Cat by Maria Luisa Lang was a book that I greatly enjoyed reading. In her interview below she mentions the fact that she pictured that cat as having James Spader's voice. I have to say after reading the book I felt like he would be a perfect choice for the cat if the book ever becomes a movie as it would be spot on for the cat's character. While all of the characters were well written and well developed Wrappa-Hamen was hands down my favorite character. I have to say reading this book made me want to go out and adopt a cat ( and I am very much a dog person) it is just that kind of book where it just makes you fall in love with cats.

Interview with Maria Luisa Lang

What inspired you to write this book?

All the cats I’ve ever known--there have been many!--and my fascination with ancient Egypt. Also, I enjoy comedy and couldn’t resist the challenge of making ancient Egypt funny by having a wise-cracking ancient Egyptian cat as my protagonist and narrator.

Did you ever consider writing yourself into your book? If yes did you and if no why did you refrain?

I did write myself into my book. My cat is me in many ways. He has my sense of humor and my sense of justice. Besides my love of cats and fascination with ancient Egypt, there are other elements in the novel which are familiar and important to me. One example is my immediate environment. I live on the Upper West Side of New York and used my neighborhood and other parts of the city as settings.

Which part was the hardest for you to write and why?

The Pharaoh’s death was the most painful. I was as terrified and grief-stricken as the cat! But it was worth it. The cat’s reaction showed unexpected psychological depth. I ended up admiring him even more.

Which part was the easiest for you to write and why?

The plot. It grew naturally from the personalities of my major characters: the cat, the threepeople who love him--the Pharaoh, the High Priest, and Elena--and the villain who hates him--the Vizier.

Which character was the hardest to write and why?

The cat. Because I was writing in the first person and the present tense, the entire narrative had to be in his distinctive voice, including the information about ancient Egypt.

Which character was the easiest to write and why?

The Vizier. Maybe because I disliked him so much (see below), I was detached.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The cat of course. But aside from the Vizier, all the characters are my favorites, including the secondary ones, like the homeless man Ezekiel.

Were there any characters that you did not like?

The Vizier, the Pharaoh’s uncle, who’s been controlling him and stifling his growth as a man and as a leader. The first thing I reveal about him is that he hates cats. His hatred is the root of his villainy. Fortunately, I’ve never met anyone remotely like him. I invented him based on what I see as the worst in humanity.

What made you choose to write a book on this topic?

I describe my novel as comedy, fantasy, historical. Had I limited myself to a single genre, I couldn’t have written the novel I wanted to, a novel that reflected my interests and personality. I was inspired not only by my love of cats and fascination with ancient Egypt, but also by the creative freedom of comedy and fantasy.

Did you base any of the characters off of real people?

The Vizier, the High Priest, and the Pharaoh are based on real people in the sense that they have counterparts in ancient Egyptian history, and I did have Tutankhamun in mind when I created the cat’s pharaoh. Also, when I was planning the novel, I thought of it as I movie and cast well-known actors to play major characters. James Spader as the cat’s voice, a young Keanu Reeves as the Pharaoh, Sean Connery as the High Priest, Winona Ryder as Elena, and either James Woods or Robert De Niro as the Vizier. These choices probably affected my characterizations.

What made you decide to become an author?

I’ve sketched and painted, and writing seemed a natural extension.Writing seems to be in my blood. My mother wrote a memoir of her experiences in Rome during the war, and one of my brothers is a noted Italian art critic and the author of several books and numerous articles.

What advice would you give to your readers?

Don’t underestimate cats. Love and friendship may come about very unexpectedly.

What type of person do you believe would enjoy your book?

Having a cat as my protagonist and narrator, a cat with human attributes yet, may give the impression that my book is intended for a younger audience. My book is a fairy tale, yes, but a fairy tale for adults. I hope it will appeal to younger readers, even certain children. But I’ve always felt that only adults would fully understand and appreciate it.


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