Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Getting to know William Doonan

I’m pleased to welcome author, William Doonan, as my guest today.  My blog is one stop on his tour to promote the recent release of his archeological mystery,  American Caliphate, which was published by Oak Tree Press.

William, let’s start with the basics.  Where did you grow up and did your childhood contribute to your desire to be a writer?

I grew up in New Jersey, but when I was nine, my family moved to Puerto Rico for three years.  It was a great experience.  When you’re young, languages load easily, so it wasn’t long before I was speaking Spanish with my new friends.  That fluency would help me a great deal later in life when I became an archaeologist working in Central America.

Both my parents are teachers, so we always had books in the house.  We had a coffee table so cluttered with books that you couldn’t even see the table.  Years later I would learn that there never was a table there to begin with, just the books.

That’s hilarious! Your parents sound like my kind of people. I love books! So, where do you live now and do you use that locale for settings in your novels?  If not, how do you choose your settings?

I live in Sacramento, CA, and so far, I have not set anything locally.  I travel a lot, so I’m more likely to pick a locale from my wanderings.  My first two mysteries, Grave Passage and Mediterranean Grave recount the adventures of Henry Grave, an octogenarian detective who solves crimes on cruise ships.  As such, those books are set at sea.  I’m a college professor, and during the summers, I lecture on board cruise ships, so that gave me the idea for that setting.

American Caliphate is set on the north coast of Peru, where I worked for several years excavating a pre-Inca pyramid complex.  It’s a perfect setting for a novel; it has pyramids, mummies, skeletons everywhere (really old ones). 

You definitely choose intriguing settings for your novels. I enjoyed reading Mediterranean Grave and I’m looking forward to reading American Caliphate. Did the inspiration for your characters/or plot come from people you know, a specific place, or personal experience?

Working on an archaeological excavation is about as much fun as I can imagine.  So I definitely try to bring that across in the book.  Each excavation is different, and each is life-changing.  I learned so much down there, working on those pyramids, and I became positive that I was only getting at about 10% of the secrets they held.  I decided I would invent the other 90%, and that’s where my story comes from.

As for the people, they are wholly invented, though some are composites of characters I’ve run across.  Here’s a blurb about American Caliphate: 

Archaeologists Jila Wells and Ben Juarez are not thrilled at the prospect of returning to Peru; the ambush that nearly cost Jila her life still haunts her.  But the ruined pyramids at Santiago de Paz hide an important document that would shock the Islamic world.  Professor Sandy Beckham is assembling a distinguished team to dig quickly through the pyramid complex, following clues found in the diary of a wealthy Muslim woman who lived in Spain five centuries ago. 

In the diary are details of an illegal expedition to Spanish Peru in three well-armed ships.  Convinced that Spain was forever lost to Islam, Diego Ibanez intended to bring the word of Allah to the pagan Americans.  Landing on Peru’s north coast, he learned that the fires of the Inquisition burned even hotter there than they did in Spain.

As the archaeologists brace for the ravaging storms of El NiƱo, Jila and Ben hurry to complete their excavations.  But they’re not the only ones interested in this project.  Other forces are determined that the document remain hidden.  Should it be discovered, a challenge could be made under Islamic testamentary law to the throne of Saudi Arabia.  And the House of Saud has no interest in sharing power with an American caliphate that might now awaken from a five hundred year slumber.

William, your book sounds wonderful. Thank you for being with us today.
If you’d like to check out William’s novel, it’s available now at some of the larger archaeology-themed bookstores near you, and on -

Also, for more reading, William blogs about undead conquistador mummies at

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Countdown

I want to wish everyone a Happy Easter. I also want to let you know that I’ve altered my blog schedule for the month of April. (I’m counting the days until the release date for Mixed Messages.) Normally, I post once a week, usually on Sunday, and write a “Getting to know you” post the fourth Sunday of the month. This month will be an exception. Here’s the calendar of events:
Monday, April 9 - Marja McGraw is interviewing me on her blog.
Wednesday, April 11 - William Doonan will be my guest. My Writers Forum is one stop on the blog tour to promote his new novel, American Caliphate, an archaeological mystery.
Saturday, April 14 - Susan Whitfield has scheduled me for an interview.
Sunday, April 15 - I will host the local book launch event for Mixed Messages, the first novel in my Malone mystery series. I’m looking forward to seeing many of my friends and, hopefully, meeting some new people.
Tuesday, April 17 - Mixed Messages will be released, available at and Needless to say, I’m very excited!
Tuesday, April 24 – Award winning author, Marilyn Meredith, will be joining us as part of her blog tour for No Bells; she will be my featured guest for April’s “Getting to know you” post.
Saturday, April 28 - Morgen Bailey will post my “Author Spotlight” on her blog.
Happy Easter!