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15 June 2011

Killian Mc Rae's Guest Post and Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Yesterday I reviewed Killian McRae's thrilling and thought provoking novel 12.21.12.
 I'm delighted to have Killian herself here today to talk about some of the research she did while writing 12.21.12
Over to you, Killian.

From Amun-Ra to Zipacna and back again: Researching across cultures and across time

Many thanks to Hywela Lyn for hosting this stop on the blog tour.

Ever heard of the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig?  Chances are, if you haven’t, the title has taken you aback. Two competing images may come to mind: the first, a scruffy-haired, bandana-wearing, leather-clad Hell’s Angel; the second,  a wrapped-in-orange, balder-than-a-baby, thin-framed Eastern monk. They don’t exactly fit, do they? Like some incomplete set “one of these things is not like the other,” your mind searches to connect their realms of existence, finding a bridge that makes their pairing make sense.

But what brings these seemingly divergent beings together is what is so basic in the commonality that not only do they share it, but it’s a constant of human nature: the nature of existence.

When I try to explain what my book is about, I often find myself saying, “It’s sort of The Mummy meets Tomb Raider meets The Da Vinci Code, with a little splash of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

“All in one book?”

I nod. “Yup, one book.”

The reason I’m able to hit upon so many cultures in 12.21.12 (including Ancient Egypt/Rome, Olmecs, Maya, and modern Western Civilization) is because in my scope of experience and in my research, I focused on what these cultures shared rather than what made them different.  All civilizations have sought to understand the mechanics of the world around them as well as themselves. What they were able to reach consensus on was that most things in nature had a pattern of regularity, whereas people in their talents, weaknesses and temperaments were highly diverse. That both Mesopotamian and Mesoamerican civilizations, then, should have developed polytheistic religions in which many of their gods and goddesses bore stark resemblances is not so surprising.

Ancient Egyptian resources, both academic and casual, are ample. Mesoamerican resources, however, are fewer and far between. Again, because my research base for the Olmec was limited, I delved into its study with the intent to focus only on that in common with Egypt. Unfortunately, I learned that very little is known about the Olmec, especially when compared with the more contemporary Maya, Inca and Aztecs. However, what was interesting is that most researchers believe the Olmec served as a proto-society for both the Aztec and Maya. Insofar as cultural  similarities exist between the two, much of this is believed to be due to the example created by the Olmec.
Olmec Pyramid

For an author of fiction, this sort of ambiguity could not have been more fortunate. In writing  12.21.12, I was able to paint around the edges of truth, and to generate or extrapolate  my world’s realty. The best fiction is grounded in truth, even if the truth is somewhat fictional. As Robert Prisig said, "For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses."

The Death of Cleopatra - Juan Luna, 1881
Archaeologist Sheppard Smyth has staked his career and the honorable memory of his deceased wife and partner on proving his widely-panned theory: Cleopatra VII, last ruler of Ancient Egypt, was murdered. When a statue of the doomed queen is discovered in an Olmec excavation site in Mexico, Shep rushes to investigate and, hopefully, find the proof that has evaded him for so long. Soon, he finds himself in the middle of the rivalry between the sexy, enigmatic international thief, Victoria Kent, and infamous rumored Russian mobster, Dmitri Kronastia. Both hold pieces to the puzzle that will finally shed light on Cleopatra's death, as they vie for Shep's trust and assistance. 
As he is drawn further into their world of ancient gods, supernatural powers, and alternative history, little does Shep know that the fate of all humanity may hinge on his ability to discover the truth in between Victoria and Dmitris' fragmented claims and hidden identities. Working to decode the past while in order to save the future, Shep becomes a common pawn played by forces working to see out a quest older than the pyramids and cloaked by the Mayan prophecy of 12.21.12. 


       “Do you think I’ve had it poisoned?” Octavian asked with a snicker.

    Sekhmet leaned forward and smirked. In one fell swoop, she raised the goblet to her lips and downed the entirety of its contents.

    "I know you did, Octavian,” she returned as she lowered the goblet, smacking her palette. “Cyanide, I would wager. Enough to kill a man. Luckily for me, I am no man.”

    She let the goblet fall, the metal clang on the floor alerting the guards standing right outside the doorway. They ran in, their pila at the ready. With a wave of his hand, Octavian dismissed them.

    “She will not harm me,” he assured them. With reluctance, the soldiers eased and exited. “You would find no fault in my efforts,” he added to Sekhmet.

    “Indeed, Caesar, I would be insulted if you had attempted anything less.” 

     Octavian understood; if it were to be a battle of wits, they were too equally matched. Whatever tolerance the woman’s body had to the poison, it meant likely that any measure of pain short of death would have no influence on her. All that was left was to hear her out.

    “Your name, Lady?”

    “I have many, sire. Your father by law called me as do the people of this land: Sekhmet.”

    Octavian chuckled, sitting back in his chair and raising his own goblet to his mouth. “Yes, he spoke
of you. Consort of the queen, he said. Quite the scandal, if word of this ever reached Rome. Tell me, is it not heretical to take on the name of a goddess?”

   “No more so than to take on the title of Caesar.”                 


Born and raised in rural Michigan, Killian used the local library- a single room in a her village's firehouse- as an escape to visit distant worlds, meet brave heroes, learn of classic mythologies, and develop a lifelong love of learning and reading.

Though she had written three novels before graduating high school, she never thought of trying to publish until much later in life. 12.21.12 was her first published work, released in late 2010. A second work due out in Fall 2011, "A Love by Any Measure," is a historical romance set in 1860's Ireland. 
Killian is a member of Stanford University's Writer's Certificate program and PRO member of RWA. Her other interests include musicology and history. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area. 

Thank you so much for a fascinating  insight into your equally fascinating novel, Killian.  I am so glad to have been able to read it and I can recommend it highly - readers, if you like a mystery/SF/thriller/romance put it at the top of your wish list now! (And please don't forget to leave a comment if you have a moment, every comment on Killiane's tour will make you elligible for the draw.)

Find Killian at her:


Dianne will be giving away  to one randomly drawn commentator, a  $20 Amazon gift  card;
stop by and give her some love - the more comments you make the more chances you have of winning a prize!
Contest ends 17th June and is open to all.

All Killian's tour dates can be found here: