You can always count on two things from me−romance and suspense. I take a little turn with JUNGLE OF DECEIT, however. Mayan artifacts? Military compounds? Underground temples? Who stole Maureen and replaced her with Indiana Jones?
Inspiration is always an interesting topic. A few years after 9/11, I read an article that was not even a blip on the news radar−several paragraphs that drew very little attention.
"After being unearthed by grave-robbers in Guatemala, sold by black marketers and shipped in suitcases through Miami, confiscated by Customs and stored in a vault that survived the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, two dozen pre-Colombian artifacts are finally headed home."
I thought that the historical path of these artifacts could make for a great novel. It began in 1998 as U.S. Customs agents at Miami International Airport searched the suitcases of two New York residents flying home from Guatemala City. In the suitcases they found the artifacts. The couple insisted they had bought them at an open Indian marketplace and the pieces were not valuable. To support their testimony, a few innocent pieces were thrown in which are believed to have acted as decoys.
An authenticating process revealed that many of the pieces were pre-Columbian and the couple lacked the documentation required to remove historically significant items from Guatemala. The artifacts were confiscated and eventually made their way to New York where they were stored in the heavy vault at Custom House, 6 World Trade Center, in the World Trade Center complex.
That is where they were on Sept. 11, 2001.
When the vault was unearthed by crews sifting through the rubble, the artifacts and other items were all intact. The legal battle against the man and woman smuggling in the artifacts collapsed as well, and several years later the artifacts were finally returned to the Guatemalan government.
This tale was stuck in my head while I was working on other books, but a story began to form in the land of fiction known as my brain. JUNGLE OF DECEIT was born. It bears no reference or similarity to the tale above, but sometimes as a writer, inspiration need only strike the tiniest spark and we’re off and running.