Guest post by archaeologist and crime
fiction author Dana Cameron.
Someone pointed a gun at me.
That's the short answer to the question: How did you make the
transition from academic archaeology to writing urban fantasy?
The longer answer is a little more involved.
Years ago, a looter with a metal detector appeared on a dig site
where I was working with a friend. We protested; he pulled a pistol on us. Eventually
he left, but at the time, I was terrified! When I later told a friend, she said
I should write it down. Archaeologists make up stories—based on evidence—about
people in the past. I'd always wanted to write fiction and here was my chance. I
started with a gun and an archaeologist, which led me to write the first of six
archaeology mystery novels.
In 2007, Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner invited me to
write a story about werewolves at the holidays for their anthology Wolfsbane
and Mistletoe. Realizing I could create my own world, with its own
rules, I came up with the Fangborn--a race of werewolves, vampires, and oracles
secretly dedicated to protecting humanity.
In 2009, while traveling in Turkey with thriller writer Tess
Gerritsen, I found inspiration in the landscapes, the history, and the people. Tess
had suggested I write an archaeological thriller. I did, but it stalled. But
then I changed the protagonist, Zoe Miller (an archaeologist, of course) from a
human to a Fangborn werewolf. Once I added the urban fantasy elements to the
thriller, the plot for Seven Kinds of Hell fell in place.
In Seven Kinds of Hell, Zoe has an
artifact that everyone wants, one of four keys to Pandora's Box. She must come
to grips with powers she didn't know she had and use her archaeological
background to rescue her kidnapped cousin and keep the catastrophic power of
Pandora's box from falling into the wrong hands—human or Fangborn.
Though I draw inspiration from my career as an archaeologist
and from my travels, it’s ultimately the characters that I focus on most. If they're
the ones taking us on the adventure, the protagonist is leading the way, and
following Zoe has been one of the most exciting times of my life.