Meet the copywriter whose debut sends a suffragette to central America
Tell us about the protagonist of The Smoke Hunter...
Ellie Mallory is an educated, opinionated, independent woman but, because it’s the year 1898, her dream of working as an archaeologist is closed to her. When a map that purports to show the location of a lost ancient city falls into her hands, she can’t resist the temptation to follow where it leads her…
What was your initial idea?
I actually set out to write a historical romance novel, but knew I wanted a setting more exotic than Regency England. I also wanted the story to be as much an adventure as it was a romance. In the end, I think the adventure really took over.
Did you do much research?
I read everything I could get my hands on about Mayan history, mythology and archaeology, as well as the history of British Honduras. The similarities between Mayan and Aztec folklore really fascinated me – and ended up inspiring a key element of the plot.
Are you a big fan of this kind of story?
Yes – I grew up on Indiana Jones and loved those stories so much that I came close to attending Dr Jones’s alma mater, the University of Chicago, to study Egyptology. Then I realised it was the mad adventure I was really in love with, and that actual archaeology was a bit more tame!
The Smoke Hunter is published by Headline on 3 November.