The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.
In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate beadwork, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.
Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
The man screamed again. The kwewu never paused. The animal tore at the one causing the pain. Massive jaws clamped down on the woman’s upper arm, breaking skin as the wolf dragged her to the dirt floor.
Badger dropped his hold on the man’s injured arm, and for a moment stood rooted in place, unable to move, unsure of what he was seeing. A giant white wolf—was the creature animal or spirit? Then he saw the arrow sticking from the creature’s side and knew it was of flesh, blood, and bone. Kaya’s screams drove Badger toward the animal, which now had her pinned to the floor. Bloody saliva dripped onto the healer’s face as she tried to push the creature away. An awful growl rose in the animal’s throat.
“Ahhkk!” The sound emanating from Badger was almost as terrifying as the rage of the wolf. The animal turned toward this new threat, a human who stood close to her master. The kwewu leaped away from the woman on the floor into Badger’s outstretched arms. The big man tucked in his chin, protecting his throat, and squeezed with every ounce of strength in his massive arms. The wolf writhed, scratching his naked torso with her nails, and caught the lobe of his right ear in her teeth. A crimson river streamed down Badger’s neck as he crushed the beast to his chest.
The kwewu cried out, but that was not the reason Badger relaxed his grip.
“No! No!” The blue-eyed man yelled. “Down!” Holding his injured arm, he tried to stand, but wobbled back onto the bed.
Badger again tightened his grip on the wolf, fully intending to crush the beast to death. Strangely, the animal had gone limp. Still, its eyes were open. Then the animal looked at the blue-eyed man and began to whimper.
Badger knitted his brow, unsure of what to do. Kaya sat up, holding the wound on her upper arm, blood seeping between her fingers. Seeing the damage the wolf inflicted, the blood smearing Kaya’s face, Badger intensified his hold on the animal.
Deer Runner suddenly appeared in the doorway with two other hunters. He notched an obsidian-tipped arrow in his bow.
“Drop the animal, Badger! I cannot shoot. Get out of the way!”
The big man turned with the creature in his arms then let the wolf fall to the ground.
“No! Please do not kill her!” The blue-eyed man cried. He righted himself and staggered, then fell and covered the kwewu with his body. The wolf heaved with exhaustion, breath coming in ragged gasps as he buried his face in her bloodied white fur.
Deer Runner drew the arrow back as the group of villagers swelled at the doorway.
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and raised just outside of New York City in Livingston, New Jersey. Since then I’ve lived in Ohio, Washington D.C., Virginia, Georgia, New York, Connecticut, Arizona, and Luxembourg, not necessarily in that order.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
When I was a reporter I was writing a magazine article about ancient ballcourts. People in Central and South America were playing a ballgame when Columbus arrived, and he was fascinated by the contest, which resembled modern-day ice hockey or basketball. While visiting a northern Arizona ruinthat had a ballcourt, the archeologist I was interviewing pointed up the hillside and said, “That’s where The Magician was buried.” I later wrote a magazine article about the man they call The Magician, in which I was tasked with uncovering where he might have come from, since he was different from the people who buried him in a fabulous tomb 900 years ago. The research entailed learning about pottery and weapons and trade routes and textiles, the ancestors of the Hopi, the art of pueblo building, ancient farming practices, and – believe it or not – sword swallowing. The reporter in me loved the research.
How do you create your characters?
My characters are sometimes based on real people. My protagonist in The Magician is Kate Butler, a former television journalist who is no longer young and pretty enough to be on the front end of a camera. I was a TV sportscaster for about ten years then suddenly, as I approached 40, I could no longer get employment. Like Kate, I also have a bad habit of interrupting people. (I’m working on it.) Other characters are amalgams of real people, and still others are just completely made up.
What inspires and what got your started in writing?
I was headed to ESPN to anchor SportsCenter. I met my new boss here in Phoenix prior to my move to Bristol, Connecticut and asked him why he hired me. “You can write,” he said. Which about knocked me off my barstool. I’m a bit dyslexic, which made school and reading difficult when I was a kid. Back then I was called stupid and lazy, which made me resent most anything with words. Even when I was in college, my mother would correct any letters I wrote home – yes, way back when we put actual stamps on mail – and she would return them with all of my mistakes marked in red pen. After TV, I ended up applying for a job as a sports writer at a small local newspaper. The pay was $7.00 an hour. Despite ten years in television, the editor was skeptical. But, as it turned out, I can write.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
I write in my office at home and I need silence. I’m easily distracted. And I must save the wine until later.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
I’m a news junkie. I’ve been reading the newspaper everyday, pretty much in its entirety, for over 35 years. The real world is far stranger than anything we novelists can make up, so I glean ideas from the news.
What do you like to read?
Historical Fiction and Thrillers
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
Have very thick skin. I’ve had a number of careers in which one is often heaped with abuse. I’ve been a sports official in football, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball and have been spit on, had my tire knifed, and my ancestry regularly questioned. As a sportscaster, I‘ve been reamed in the press for mispronouncing a name or getting a score wrong. I’m also a high school teacher, yet another career not for the faint of heart.
Despite all my years of job-related angst, nothing prepared me for the rejection I’ve endured as an author. If you don’t believe in yourself and your work and have a sense of humor, I think it would be difficult to survive the world of words.