Bringing ‘Death of a Pharoah’ to Life


“I’m still astounded,” said Kline School of Law Professor Alex Geisinger recently when thinking about how his teenage son just published his first book. A real book.

A real book with 126 pages that’s available on Written by his kid.

Death of a Pharoah” is 15-year-old Michael Geisinger’s first venture into book writing. It’s an ancient Egyptian murder mystery, written for ages 8-12, that’s actually got a solid plot and is surprisingly historically accurate. There’s even a glossary at the end.

“All of the mythology is ‘real mythology,’ so the facts are right, and the history is, I guarantee, 100 percent true,” Michael said. “As long as you can keep a discerning eye out for the time-traveling, gods-coming-to-life part of it, it can be a pretty informative as well as an entertaining story.”

Kline School of Law Professor Alex Geisinger with his son, Michael Geisinger, author of "Death of a Pharaoh."

The road from concept to published book was a long one, both father and son admit. Lots of editing, more editing, some more editing, and then the publisher, New Jersey-based Anansi Publishers, LLC, told the Geisingers they needed to provide illustrations for the cover and interior of the book.

“Well, I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” Alex said, so he did what any smart university professor would do. He looked to his colleagues.

A daisy chain of supportive Drexel colleagues led Geisinger and his son to the Drexel Graphics Group, an in-house, student-run graphic design team that produces high-quality work for Drexel clients as well as those in the surrounding region. The group is led by senior students, but underclassmen are offered opportunities as well.

An illustration featured in "Death of a Pharaoh," done by Emily Charniga, a Westphal College of Media Arts & Design student. It depicts a "chaos snake."

Graphic design graduate Cheng Wan ’15 took on the project and wound up producing the book’s cover art. But, during the process, Wan’s workload as a then-senior swelled, so she called on sophomore Emily Charniga to help. Charniga, now a junior in graphic design, created all of the book’s interior illustrations. It was her first opportunity to have her work published and her first real experience working one-on-one with a client. So far, she’s a fan.

“The experience was great; Michael and Alex were both very easy to work with, they were very clear in what they wanted,” Charniga said. “And the book is something I can show in my portfolio, and something I will always have to look back on and remember. This was a great opportunity to get a real sense of the industry.”

For Michael and Alex, the good feelings are mutual.

“Emily did such an amazing job of bringing my characters to life,” said Michael.

As you read this, Michael is already hard at work on Book Two, which will have the same main characters (two orphaned brothers, Roger and Sam) but this time the mystery is told through ancient Mayan mythology. Books three and four are on the horizon. And, the Geisingers said, the Drexel Graphics Group will be their first choice for illustrations.