Effigy is my first archaeological mystery/thriller which will be initially released as an e-book from Whiskey Creek Press. The story centers around the theft of an effigy of the Mesoamerican deity, Quetzalcoatl, which launches archaeologist, Anthony Peet, and his student, Lori Dewson, into the midst of two ancient secret societies battling over the rights to a new world age.
Peet and Lori are joined by a reluctant colleague, an enthusiastic young journalist and a Yaqui woman in mourning. In their search for the priceless jade and turquoise artifact, the group must decipher clues hidden within the Aztec sunstone, Toltec pyramids and astronomical calendar rounds. But if Peet’s haunting past isn’t enough to divide their efforts, deception within their own ranks will certainly pull them apart. However, tensions must be handled on the run as they dodge a corrupt Mexican police force hunting for a sadistic killer – a killer who’s chosen Lori for his next human sacrifice.
This sounds like another 2012 story. What makes EFFIGY different?
Although the story is set in 2012, it has nothing to do with the Mayan phenomenon of 12/21/12. Instead, I’ve turned back to the Toltecs of Central Mexico who developed the precursors of the famous Mayan Long Count Calendar. Their culture was an amazing one in itself, even if it has been overshadowed by the popularity of the Mayans. Through EFFIGY I hope to create awareness of this culture and illustrate the influence it had throughout Mesoamerica.
Tell us something about yourself.
I live along the hi-line of Montana. I’ve been writing stories practically since I could hold a pen, but it wasn’t until about ten years ago that I began seriously writing for publication.
What inspired you to write this book?
I love history and archaeology. While I was researching for another book centered on the southwest, I came across archaeological research indicating connections between early southwestern cultures with those of Mesoamerica. As I learned more about the people of ancient Mexico I became intrigued by the mythological and astronomical aspects of those cultures. A story quickly took shape and my southwestern story took an immediate back seat to what has evolved into EFFIGY.
How did you research the content for EFFIGY?
Call me crazy, but I love research. When I find a subject that interests me I just throw myself into it. I must give credit to independent researcher, John Major Jenkins, for introducing me to Mesoamerican cosmology. His book, MAYA COSMOGENESIS, 2012 provided the framework in which EFFIGY developed. Of course, I needed to conduct a lot more research outside of his work. My first source is still the library, but given the limited resources of our rural community, I found myself spending a lot of time searching the internet. I was even fortunate enough to contact Mr. Jenkins who graciously clarified a few key points for me.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
Right now the hardest part of writing is finding time. With a six month old daughter and a part-time job, nap times and late nights are priceless! But when it comes to writing itself, sometimes the hardest thing for me is to discover holes within the story that need to be filled in. By the third, fourth, tenth draft, I know my story so well that I’m often blinded to areas that need further fleshing out so that the reader stays on track with me. This is where a good critique partner who is not afraid to offer constructive criticism is golden!
What did you learn from writing this book?
A lot! A whole new world opened up to me that I’d not had much awareness of before. I found a whole new appreciation for the ancient cultures of Mexico, which has only enlightened my original interest in southwestern peoples. Not only that, but I’ve also developed a fondness for astronomical patterns that I’d never before considered.
What are you reading now?
THE BOOK THIEF, by Markus Zusak
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I’ll read just about anything that holds my interest. I like science and love to see it thrown into a good adventure, so authors like Michael Crichton, James Rollins and Dan Brown are good reads. My first love has always been American history, particularly the American west, so Larry McMurtry claims his rightful space on my bookshelf! I also love Sara Gruen’s insight into traveling circuses in WATER FOR ELEPHANTS. However, I’ll occasionally crave a taste for the thought-provoking literary so I’ll pick up Willa Cather, Wallace Stegner or Henry David Thoreau.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I am in the early stages of drafting a sequel to EFFIGY. It will follow along the same thread in regards to astronomical calendar systems, archaeology and the mythology of ancient Mexico. With any luck I hope to turn this into a series of four books that will eventually connect the EFFIGY story back to the southwest.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Patience is a must. If you don’t naturally have it, the processes of writing will eventually humble you into it.
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
It’s difficult to have book signings for an e-book so I’ve been forced to think along electronic lines. I am planning a blog party for EFFIGY’S May release. Everyone is welcome to join in! More information will be posted on my website, Facebook and Twitter.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
First and foremost, readers can find me on my website at www.theresadanley.com. There, you can find links to my blog where readers can meet and even interact with EFFIGY’S characters. But if my own updates are what you’re looking for, I’m active on Twitter and would love to meet my fans on Facebook!
Lastly, thank you for this opportunity to share my book with you!