Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss

Jessica Andersen | Of Mayan Myths and Hot Men

May 29, 2008

As I talk to people about NIGHTKEEPERS, one question that comes up repeatedly is one of inspiration, and how I came to take pieces of ancient Mayan mythology and bring them into a modern day paranormal romantic thriller. Given that I’m a scientist by training and have spent the last bunch of years writing medical romantic suspense, it might seem a little off-topic for me to be writing about Mayan mythology. But really it isn’t. . . it goes back to being a little kid and visiting a big pyramid.

This was back when Cancun was just starting to become Americanized. My parents and I stayed at small local hotels and took rattling bus tours to Mayan ruins across the Yucatan. I soaked up enough Spanish to ask where the bathroom was, and to order a burger and Coke. More, I learned how the Mayans were masters of astronomy, and how they played a winner-loses-head ball game in huge, open-ended ball courts. I discovered flan (and subsequently Montezuma’s revenge), haggled at open-air markets, and learned a bit about how the coming of the Conquistadors in the early 1500s had changed the landscape forever.

Ever since, I’ve been fascinated with the Maya. I can still close my eyes and feel the damp chill of the narrow stone stairway inside the great pyramid at Chichen Itza, or remember the squirrelly quiver at the pit of my stomach as I stood at the edge of the Cenote Sacrada- a water-filled sinkhole hundreds of feet across and down, that the ancient Mayans used for ceremonies and sacrifice. It’s those images, those memories of history and grandeur and a deep sense of otherness, that came back to me, grabbed me by the throat and dragged me along for the ride when I stumbled over a reference to the endpoint of the ancient Mayan calendar, and how it aligns with scientific concerns about a stellar conjunction set to occur on that very day. . . December 21, 2012.

I mean, how cool is that?

So I started working on the concept for NIGHTKEEPERS and the subsequent books in the series. But the stories that I love to read and write aren’t about a place, or a situation. . . they’re about the people in those places and situations: How does a guy with a business degree and part ownership of a garden center deal with learning that he’s not only the last leader of a dying race of magi, but it’s up to him to save the world? How does a no-nonsense detective hunting her brother’s killer cope with learning that his death- and her own potential sacrifice- are tied up in ancient prophecies and the so-called 2012 doomsday? How do they both deal with an attraction that is part magic, part basic chemistry, and one hundred percent complicated?

I researched history and mythology, and I thought about the lives and loves of the modern-day magi sworn to protect mankind from the 2012 doomsday, and eventually I sat down and started to write, always with the question in mind: what would surprise me if it happened next? What would make me say, “Dude… didn’t see that coming!” For me, that kick of excitement is another kind of inspiration.

Thus, for me and the writing of NIGHTKEEPERS, inspiration began with a long-ago vacation and a lifelong interest, and then became a love story, and an adventure. I hope you’ll join me on that adventure, and that you’ll love Strike and Leah as much as I do.

Jessica Andersen

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