As I mentioned yesterday, I’ll have an e-novella paranormal romance from Carina Press – AZTEC GOLD – out in the Fall of 2010.
AZTEC GOLD is a story about two archaelogists – Cynthia Guerrero and Rafael Santiago – who are radically different people. Rafael, or Rafe as he is known to friends and Cynthia, is an adventurer in the line of Indiana Jones. Totally alpha and unafraid.
Cynthia, on the other hand, prefers to stay in the safety and quiet of her job in the museum where her expertise is used to review and document ancient discoveries. Cynthia has reason to like security — as a child her famous anthropoligist parents dragged her all around the world until their untimely deaths.
But when Rafe disappears on an expedition to find an ancient Aztec temple in the Mexican jungle, Cynthia will have to face her fears – and an Aztec vampire demi-goddess – in order to discover what happened to her lover.
The inspiration for the story came from a trip that I took to Mexico as part of my day job. I was attending a conference in Mexico City and on one of the days of the conference we were able to visit Teotihuacan, a pre-Colombian city about 40 kilometers outside of Mexico City.
During its peak, Teotihuacan was thought to have held as many as 200,000 residents, although the ethnicity of those inhabitants is up for grabs. However the name Teotihuacan was given to the city by the Nahuatl-speaking Aztec centuries after the city had fallen to attacks from an assortment of invaders.
It’s an amazing place with its two pyramids – one to the sun and the other to the moon – and its long central avenue – the Avenue of the Dead – which is lined by smaller structures which the Aztecs believed to be tombs, resulting in the name of the avenue.
This is a view of the avenue and the Pyramid of the Sun from the Pyramid of the Moon.
This is a view of the avenue and the Pyramid of the Moon from the Pyramid of the Sun.
Despite my fear of heights, I am happy to say that I overcame that fear – much like Cynthia will fight to overcome hers – and climbed to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun. It was quite a view from there and I’ll be scanning some photos for you so you can get some first hand views of the area and the culture.
I hope you liked that Behind the Scenes info and now . . . an excerpt from AZTEC GOLD which will be available in the Fall 2010.
The feel of old papers called to Cynthia Guerrera the way a lover’s skin might.
Even with the gloves she wore to protect the fragile documents from the oils on her fingers, she sensed the raspy texture of the heavy parchment beneath them. Smelled the mustiness that hinted at the fact that it had been some time since these papers had seen the light of day.
At first she had been skeptical of the provenance of the documents — Missouri cornfields were not the place one expected to find a trunk filled with nearly five hundred year old Spanish papers and journals. But a Missouri cornfield was just where the trunk containing the papers and maps had been discovered when a developer had begun excavations for a new strip mall.
Setting aside the missive — one from Coronado himself to one of his seconds in command — she turned her attention to the leather bound journal of one Juan Domingo Cordero. Gingerly opening the cover, she traced her fingers over the scrawling script. The first entries in the journal had provided her with the identity of the author and the date of the documents thanks to Cordero’s meticulous notations.
With that information, she had been able to check a number of other sources to confirm that Cordero had indeed been one of Coronado’s lieutenants. When Coronado had left Mexico City in 1540 in search of the fabled Cities of Gold, Cordero had been at his side. Coronado had eventually separated from Cordero and his contingent, ordering them to search in one direction while he went in another.
Cordero’s entries in the journal carefully detailed their travels throughout the south central portion of Mexico, before his band had turned northward until they crossed the Rio Grande. Eventually the group had turned eastward and reached the Mississippi, hugging the banks of the river until it landed them in what would one day become Missouri.
Tired of their journeys and with their group decimated by a number of incidents, the Spanish conquistadors had built a small settlement a short distance from the sluggish and fertile waters of the Mississippi.
The notations in Cordero’s journal gradually diminished after that, with the conquistador’s adventures giving way to the routine of farming and family life. Eventually Cordero had stopped writing and Cynthia supposed that was when he had tucked the journals into the small wood and leather trunk together with his other papers. The trunk in turn had been put in the cellar and over time, the floods that often occurred in the area had covered Cordero’s home and the surrounding settlement with mud. Further flooding and natural events had added to the layers over the former community, hiding it from sight until the developer’s bulldozers had dug up the first hints of the earlier civilization and the trunk.
Cynthia picked up the laboratory results that had arrived that morning and which just further confirmed the age of the documents.
With that endorsement came proof of one thing, while serious doubt remained about another.
She rose and walked over to the climate-controlled locker in her office, removed a handwrought leather tube from within. Returning to her work table, she untied one end of the cylinder and removed a pliant sheet of leather from inside the tube. On the soft leather was a crudely drawn map identifying the sometimes circuitous route Cordero and his men had taken from Mexico City.
In the middle of the map, more carefully detailed than anything else, were the geographical features and path to what Cordero had believed to be one of the fabled Cities of Gold. A city supposedly inhabited by a demon who had taken away and killed nearly half a dozen of his men before Cordero had decided that no amount of lucre was worth their lives.
A hard tale to believe and yet everything else about the documents was genuine.
Worse yet, something about the map had troubled her from the moment she unrolled it onto her work station. As she had compared the various features on the map to a copy of another she had seen six months earlier, she realized there was too much coincidence to ignore.
Six months ago her lover, Dr. Rafael Santiago, had detailed to her the plans for his latest archaeological expedition — a trip to a previously unknown and unexplored Aztec temple. While on that trip with his younger brother and a team of about a dozen men, Rafe and his team had disappeared into the Mexican jungle.
For months she had been hoping for word of them, keeping faith in the belief that they were still alive. But with each month that passed, that hope was fading along with the prospect of discovering anything about her lover’s disappearance . . . until now.