1) Effigy seems to have the perfect blend of archaeological adventure with blood-curdling mystery. Tell us, in your own words, what is this book about?
You’ve hit the nail right on the head. When an priceless effigy of the Mesoamerican deity, Quetzalcoatl, is stolen, archaeologists discover that their search for the artifact leads them into a web of murder, mythology and dangerous secret cults. And that’s all after they must dodge the snares set by for them by a corrupt Mexican AFI agent.
I was actually working on a different story set in the American Southwest when my research for that book led me to the ancient cultures of central Mexico. The more I learned about the Mesoamericans, the more captivated I became. It wasn’t until I began to learn about their astronomy and how that often tied into their mythology that a story began to take shape in my head. I hadn’t attempted to write mystery-thrillers before but as EFFIGY took control of my creative mind, it became quite apparent that there was no other way to write this story!
Being relatively new to the genre myself, I can only tell you what I’ve picked up through this experience of writing EFFIGY. First of all, I think most people, like me, are drawn to adventure. We like excitement and watching our heroes find creative ways of getting out of sticky situations. I found that to be the most challenging and yet, the most fun when writing EFFIGY. It really makes you think outside the box as a writer. I think the essential elements of adventure thrillers are spelled out right in the genre title – adventure and thrills. In short, we all like a little excitement. I think the mystery element also draws upon readers who like to try to figure things out. I think people who read mystery-thrillers are not only looking to be entertained, but they want to match their own wit against the author. Hey, I admit, when I can predict a story’s outcome, I can’t help but feel a little superior to the author who couldn’t fool me!
4) As a writer, who/what are some of your major influences (whether authors, books, TV, or movies)? How have they influenced you?
Good question. I love bringing forgotten stories back to life. In the beginning, that was primarily focused on the American West, so my favorite authors in that area were the Larry McMurtry type. That’s when I began dabbling in historical fiction on my own. But when the native history of Mexico drew my attention, it challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. I think the book that convinced me that I could make a great thriller out of EFFIGY was Dan Brown’s, THE DAVINCI CODE. I went on to find other favorite thriller writers like James Rollins who continue to urge me to draw exciting stories out of the factual gems of science and history.
I am hoping to turn this into EFFIGY a series of 3 or 4 books that follow my characters as they dig deeper into the mysteries of this unique artifact. But even more than the effigy itself, readers can expect to discover more about the stories that are wrapped around this one physical piece of history. That’s what has always interested me when I see an artifact – not the artifact itself so much as the lives that were and still may be affected by its existence.
6) Besides writing, what are some of your favorite things to do? Hobbies? Interests?
Ordinarily, I’d say hands down my favorite thing is horses, horses, horses. I love them and I love riding and showing them. However, in this season of family building, the horses have taken a back seat. But that should only be a temporary hiatus. Although the horses don’t take as high a priority as they used to, they are still a major part of my life and I have plans of getting back in that saddle much sooner than later!
My knee-jerk response is to never give up, but I think that piece of advice (as true as it is) has been passed around to the point of tatters. So my piece of advice is more of a challenge to aspiring writers to step out of their comfort zones. Don’t be afraid to try a new genre or research an entirely different subject you thought you didn’t have time for. You never know where new paths will take you and how that experience can refresh and inspire your writing.
Thank you Theresa for a fantastic interview! We wish you the very best of luck with Effigy, plus with the entire series!
And if you want to know more about Theresa Danley and her books, check out her website here: