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Today I'm excited to be a part of Jordan Jacobs' blog tour for his debut book, SAMANTHA SUTTON AND THE LABYRINTH OF LIES. It was published on October 1, 2012.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

A legendary ghost, an ancient treasure, a mystery only Samantha Sutton can solve.

What happens when Indiana Jones meets Nancy Drew? You get Samantha Sutton, twelve year-old archeology buff with sharp wit and an insatiably curious personality. SAMANTHA SUTTON AND THE LABYRINTH OF LIES is the incredible page-turner about a young girl from California who is given the chance to follow her archeologist uncle to the excavation of an ancient Peruvian temple.

What she doesn’t expect, though, is the legend haunting this ancient site. When important artifacts begin to disappear overnight, Samantha must navigate the disapproving eye of her uncle’s acerbic assistant, the bungling boyishness of her annoying big brother, and the ever-present stories swirling among the locals of the hysterical spirit that wanders through the town late at night. Using her keen sensibility and her knack for mapping the unknown passageways of Chavín de Huántar, Samantha uncovers a mystery far bigger than she could have ever imagined. This is a novel for children (and adults!) who love history, mystery, and heart-stopping plot-twists.

Doesn't it sound good? Jordan is going to share a guest post on what inspired his story. It's a really unique experience and I hope you'll enjoy it. So here's Jordan.

Did That Really Happen?

Chavin de Huantar almost killed me.

I lost 35 pounds over the 10-week archaeological field season--a not-so-pleasant combo of high-altitude labor, giardia, and the cunning Peruvian parasites that detected my innocent gut as soon as I arrived.  A mystery fever confined me to bed for three full days mid-summer, with only the team’s shared copy of Lord of the Rings to keep me company. To this day I’m not sure which remembered scenes I read and which I merely hallucinated.

And when I wasn’t ill or raving, I was struggling to adjust to life in the Andes.  Over the course of the summer, I was gored by cacti, attacked by bats, chased through the village by unfriendly dogs, and badly bruised when my shower exploded--clogged with mud from its riverine source.   A taxi I’d hired to take me back from an outing never appeared, and I had to hitch a ride back in a truck full of half-dead chickens.  A collision on a cliffside road almost sent our excavation van tumbling over the edge.  

I’m not a sickly person.  Not at all.  I tend to do well in remote and foreign places (in subsequent travels to Asia, Africa and elsewhere in Latin America, I’ve never encountered such a shock to my system). But my Andean summer took its toll.  In September, when my parents came to meet my return flight to California, I looked so weak that my dad insisted on carrying my filthy duffel. My mom just cried.
It was the best summer of my life.  

For a young archaeologist, there can be nothing better than Chavin de Huantar.  The site dates to about 1200 BCE, and continued in active use as a religious and political center for at least a thousand years.  Roughly 10,400 feet above sea level, it’s a vast complex of platforms, terraces, and plazas, all flanking a central temple--six stories tall and the width and breadth of a New York City block. Threading through the site are narrow passageways— called “galleries”--their entire network still unmapped.  Exploring the pitch black depths of the ancient temple was an unparalleled thrill, and realized some childhood dreams.

So, too, did the science.  The Stanford professor leading the project was exacting in his methods, and led our team patiently through the survey, excavation, and analysis.  All energy was applied to a simple series of questions: How had this place been built?  What was its purpose?  How had it been so successful?

The answers that emerged that summer--and in all the years of research before and since--have been as shocking and as thrilling as anything in the movies. The whole experience made me feel like I was twelve years old. The place was begging for a kids’ book.  

And so I wrote one.

I’d always wanted to write something for kids about archaeology--probably because, as a kid, I was always reading about archaeology myself.  And while I knew that most children might not have the patience I had had to track down dense college textbooks and dry academic journals, I wanted to present a realistic view of the discipline I love so much, and share with them the real-world excitement that it offers.

Setting the book in Chavin made things easy.  In writing Samantha’s adventures, I was able to throw all my adventures on her and her compatriots, the good as well as the bad.  I chase them with dogs and bats.  I explode their showers.  I threaten them with falls off Andean cliffsides, and strand them, then retrieve them, in trucks of half-dead poultry.  But they get a stake in the scientific discoveries, too.  I took pains to get these right--both those made during my summer in Peru and in the years of excavation that have occurred there, before and since.   

In many ways, Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies is a true story. It’s my story.  And it’s a story that my younger self would have been eager to read.

Jordan's publisher has generously offered a copy of SAMANTHA SUTTON AND THE LABYRINTH OF LIES for a giveaway.  To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on November 3rd. I’ll announce the winner on November 5th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This contest is open to US and Canada residents only.

Here's what's coming up:

On Monday, I'm interviewing debut author Shelby Bach and giving away a copy of OF GIANTS AND ICE. It's a unique fairy tale retelling centering around the Ever After School that I really enjoyed and think you will too.

Next Wednesday, I'm interviewing debut author Laura Ellen and giving away an ARC of BLIND SPOT, a fantastic contemporary YA book about a girl who's dealing with macular degeneration, a schoolmates death, and a whole lot more. 

The following Monday I am SO excited to share an interview with New York Times best selling author Cinda Williams Chima and give away a copy of THE CRIMSON CROWN, book 4 in The Seven Realms series. This is a fantastic fantasy series as good as George Martin's A GAME OF THRONES. Even if you haven't read the other books in Cinda's series, you'll want this book and you'll want to read Cinda's awesome advice. She's an amazing  writer that I was lucky enough to meet at a SCBWI conference. 

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you Monday!



Louise said...

Sounds like a fantastic story, and what a fun real-life story behind it! I've always been fascinated by archeology and anthropology - this book sound just the sort of thing I would have loved when I was a kid, and never could find. I'm glad it's here now!

Andrea Mack said...

This sounds like an exciting story! I enjoyed hearing about the ideas and experiences that lead to the book.

Elana Johnson said...

This fascinates me, and I gotta say I'd like to lose 35 pounds! But maybe not in that particular way... :)

Kristin Lenz said...

I had dreams of being an archaeologist as a kid, and anthropology was my favorite class in high school. I don't know how I ended up being a social worker! Congrats to Jordan on his book. It sounds perfect for my daughter.

Hannah Milton said...

This sounds really fun! I always wanted to find archaeology books as a kid. That story is fascinating-- there's nothing cooler than running around an old temple!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Now that's called drawing from experience! Still glad I never endured anything my main character experienced though.
Congratulations, Jordan!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Congratulations, Jordan. Your book sounds great. There are not many books with female protagonists for the MG readership. So, this is going to be great for the girls to have a heroine amongst them. Wishing you good luck with it.

Anonymous said...

This book really intrigues me. The cover art grabs me even before reading the description :)

Congratulations Jordan. Can't wait to read it!


jpetroroy said...

Sounds fun! Congrats!


Angela Brown said...

LOL!! I loved reading this post. A terrible toll taken on the body did not deter from a spirited enjoyment of a rare experience. And though I'm researching ways to lose weight, I think I may scratch this particular fast-weight-loss plan off my list. I don't do well too far above sea level.

Having had such an adventure must have made it a thrill to write this book. Thanks to Jordan and Natalie for sharing this experience and to bringing this fantastic book to our attention.

Jessie Humphries said...

Indiana Jones meets Nancy Drew! Ha! I love it. I totally dig that mash up!

Beth said...

This book sounds terrific. Fingers crossed!

Lisa Gail Green said...

Sounds like a fun book and OOH OOH you're interviewing Cinda? Awesome!

Stina said...

That's one weight loss regime I think I'll skip on. Other than that, sounds like a great trip.

And a great inspiration for the book. :D

Unknown said...

Oh how neat this one sounds, thanks for sharing :)

Brenda said...

Fascinating back story on where the book idea came from. I tweeted about it too.

Jennifer R said...

Loved reading a little background on the author. This does sounds like a fun, interesting read!

The Clements Family said...

I love hearing how authors get their ideas. This sounds like a really fun book. The e-mail I follow this blog on is meganclements4@yahoo [dot] com.

Sheena-kay Graham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sheena-kay Graham said...

Hope the book's good.
GFC: Sheena-kay Graham

Blog: http://queendsheena.blogspot.com
Email: queendsheena@hotmail.com

Melodie Wright said...

This looks really interesting...and a nice change for the MG genre. Thanks for the interview!!