Concealed in a remote area of the Amazon jungle is something the Mayans thought so dangerous they built a secret prison to entomb it. It remained undiscovered for centuries. When a maverick archaeologist hears rumours of a mysterious lost city, he heads into the Amazon jungle, determined to find it. He soon learns that some things are best left unfound. The dangerous past the Mayans tried so hard to bury, is about to become our terrifying future.
What part of England did you grow up in?
Hertfordshire, the land of rolling fields, farms and markets.
What’s it like going from Germany to Spain?
A lot warmer. Germany is a nice place to live, but its winters are long and cold, or were when I was there, which is why I decided to head for warmer climates. I packed up my motor home, headed for Spain and didn’t stop until I reached Malaga.
Who do you get your love of traveling from?
I’ve no idea as no one else in my family has the travelling bug. I guess it’s from reading adventure books and watching documentaries about amazing places.
Name your favorite destinations.
Spain, I love it here. It is warm, people are friendly and the way of life here is so much more relaxed and stress free. Also I have a place in the hills, looking down a valley to the sea. Peaceful and an ideal place to write. However, now doubt I will get the traveling bug again in a year or two and move to another country.
Did you travel to the Amazon for Sacrophagus?
I wish. It wasn’t possible at this time, but one day, hopefully.
What sources did you use for your research?
For Sarcophagus I already had enough information on the Amazon jungle from my research when I wrote my El Dorado books. I talked to people who have been there, watched documentaries and read non-fiction books about the Amazon jungle. I also used the Internet, which, if you are selective and double check everything, is a very handy and a rich source of information.
Do you have a certain approach when researching?
Not really, as I use different methods for different books, depending on the level of research needed. Sarcophagus was relatively easy compared to my books like El Dorado, which featured details of Colonel Fawcett’s ill fated 1925 expedition, and my novel about America’s first serial killer, H. H. Holmes, which required extensive research. (Some of the research I had gathered about Colonel Fawcett was used in a PBS TV documentary aired in America.)
It is important when involving historical people or events in your writing, to get your facts right. Researching Holmes was particular difficult, as there were a lot of conflicting information of when and where he did certain things. It took me almost two years as I had to construct a timeline of his life before I could even begin writing An Insatiable Thirst for Murder.
How do you know when you have *enough* research?
When the migraine clicks in. Again, it depends on the story. I usually have an idea of what I want to include and the plot, so as soon as I sense I have enough information to achieve those goals, I stop. If something else crops up during writing I will do more research.
As an example, If, like Sarcophagus, the story is set in a time period, then I have to ensure everything I mention or is used by the characters was actually available at that time. As an example, I wanted to use flashlights in the story, but wasn’t sure if they were invented so I did some research and discovered the first dry cell batteries were invented in 1896 and in 1899 English inventor David Missel invented the first flashlight that was powered by three D batteries.
What impresses you about the Mayans?
I am impressed by all the Mesoamerican civilisations, Maya, Aztec, Inca, etc.. Their ability to build massive stone constructions and cities without the aid of any mechanical devices, even the wheel, and usually in inaccessible locations, and survive. Not so impressed with their tradition of cruel human sacrifices though. “Interestingly, the Maya used the wheel on children’s toys but not for transportation, preferring to use drag carts on.
What are some fascinating facts about the Amazon Jungle?
Even today there are areas of the Amazon rainforest that have not been explored. As little as a few years ago, a new tribe was discovered in the Amazon by an airplane flying directly over their village. If it had flown a route a few hundred yards either side, the tribe might still remain a mystery.
Over a quarter of the medicines we use today have their origins in the rainforests – and that’s after only about 1% of rainforest plants have been examined for their medicinal properties. Imagine what else could be there?
What can you tell us about the archaeologist? What drives him?
Kramer is driven by the unknown and the undiscovered. Fame and recognition for his discoveries mean little to him. If he has funding to finance his archaeological expeditions, he is satisfied.
The other archaeologist in Sarcophagus, Greyson Bradshaw, is the opposite of Kramer. Fame and to be acknowledged and admired by his peers is what drives him.
Is the Lost City truth or fiction?
That is the question.
Machu Picchu was a lost city before it was re-discovered on July 24th , 1911 by Hiram Bingham. Bingham was searching for lost Inca cities when he came across a prospector who informed there were numerous ruins on some nearby mountains. Bingham traveled there and found what we know today as macho Picchu.
My character Kramer is loosely based on Hiram Bingham and his discovery of Machu Picchu.
Name the most challenging aspects of writing this book.
If I had to pick something, I would say linking the Amazon Lost City section to the London museum section. A first draft had Greyson leaving the lost city with the sarcophagus and artefacts and then the following chapter was the Maya exhibition opening night.
I wanted something linking the two continents, so I shortened the first and last sections and added a middle section about what happened on the cargo ship transporting the artifacts.
What are some interesting things you learned that aren’t in the book.
Never, ever, open a sarcophagus discovered in the bowels of a long-lost city deep in the Amazon jungle.