May 9, 2012

The Serpent Passage Virtual Tour: Interview and Giveaway With Todd Allen Pitts

Welcome to The Serpent Passage Virtual Book Tour! I'm very excited to be hosting a stop especially because I've got some goodies for you all! On this stop, I have to offer you an interview with the author himself, Todd Allen Pitts! He's going to tell us a bit about his book and how he was inspired to write it. Plus, Todd has kindly provided us with a giveaway! One lucky reader of Wickedly Bookish will win a paperback copy of The Serpent Passage! Let's get started shall we?

Wicked Interview with Todd Allen Pitts
Hi Todd, thank you for stopping by Wickedly Bookish today! I'm very excited to have you here!

Thank you for having me. I appreciate the opportunity to talk about my book.

Can you give us an idea of what The Serpent Passage is all about?

It's about a 17-year-old boy, William, who tries to rescue a woman, Betty, from drowning in a cenote in the Yucatan. They get pulled through a strange passage with flashing lights that propels them 1,000 years into the past, into the times of the ancient Maya! Of course, they don't realize what has occurred at first, but they soon discover the truth of their situation. William saves a boy from being sacrificed, and he turns out to be a Mayan King. William and Betty quickly become entangled in conflicts between Mayan kingdoms. William is awarded a magical gem, called the bloodstone, that puts him in the path of Mayan gods, demons, mythical creatures, and even extra terrestrials. At first, he wants to find a way back home, but William (or Balam, as they Mayans call him) learns that he has a reason for being there, and he also falls in love with a Mayan Princess, Teshna, making his choice even more difficult. In the first book of the trilogy William needs to end a curse on the land, which takes him through all sorts of adventures. He must also help the people of Dzibanche prepare for a huge invading army from the Mayan nation of Calakmul. The story is full of twists and turns, and is basically why I refer to it as "a wild ride into the times of the ancient Maya." A lot of research went into learning about the Mayan culture, beliefs, and history, to vividly bring the world of the ancient Maya to life for the readers. So it's also a fun way to learn about the ancient Maya.

I hear you were inspired to write The Serpent Passage while actually exploring Mayan ruins and teaching scuba in the Yucatan. How exciting! What was it about this experience that inspired you? What are some of your favorite memories from that experience?

After getting my PADI Instructors License in 1998, I decided to take a sabbatical from my career in technical publications and live in the region for a couple years. I became fascinated by the Mayan ruins, and was amazed by the incredible architecture and knowledge that they had so long ago. Their calendar was more precise than ours today, and that was created over a thousand years ago! While wandering around the ruins of Dzibanche, I started to think how cool would be if I turned some corner and was suddenly back in the time of the ancient Maya, when they were at the peak of their civilization! To see the pyramids when they were pristine, and all the colors and sounds of the vibrant society in that time. That's when I started to think about the idea of writing this book (about someone from our time who has to adapt to the culture of the ancient Maya). One day, when I was in Bacalar, having lunch and snorkeling in the Cenote Azul, the inspiration for the start of the book hit me. I began writing it that night and finished the first draft in about six months. My favorite memories are wandering alone through the more remote Mayan ruins where I could envision that I really was back in time, and allow my imagination to run wild with ideas. Of course, all the scuba diving was incredible, too, in Cancun and Cozumel.

When I think of scuba, I can't help but think not only about how big and beautiful the ocean is, but also how dangerous it can be. So I have to ask... Have you ever encountered any sharks or had any close calls with other sea creatures?

 Oh, yes, I've seen many sharks. There are mostly nurse sharks around that region, but I did see an occasional reef shark now and then. They're usually pretty skittish and swim off when they see a bunch of divers coming with bubbles blowing out their mouths. However, there are so many barracuda in the region, and at times you'll find yourself swimming in schools of them. They seem to stare at you with a hungry, angry look, and their big teeth exposed on their lower jaws when they pass. But they know you're not their prey, and just like to stare. However, we do advise the divers not to wear flashy jewelry that could draw their interest and tempt them into wanting to take a bite. There are also many rays too. You also want to be careful of the fire corral. Of course good divers should never touch any corral, because it is protected wildlife, but when you accidentally brush against fire corral, it really burns, and you'll remember to stay clear of it in the future. Generally, if you don't provoke wildlife in the ocean, it won't bother you either.

On that same note, what dangers can readers expect laying in wait for your characters?

There are a number of battles in the story, and they even have to fight off some nasty chupacabras (blood-sucking monsters). William also participates in a Mayan ball game, which ends up becoming a death match in the end.

It sounds like readers have quite an adventure ahead of them! Tell us what some of your favorite literary adventures are.

Well, I hate to give away too much of the plot, but I think my favorite literary adventure is when William comes into contact with a Mayan demon in the Underworld (the God of Death), and he needs to delay the demon from poisoning the crops before the Mayans can complete the harvest.

I'm quite inspired by authors who develop such intricate worlds, characters, and scenarios. What advice do you have for aspiring authors on developing their own?

I'd say to write about what really interests you. Your passion will then come through in your writing, and it will make the research fun for you, too. Of course, you need to get used to accepting critique and feedback, and be willing to make changes to improve your story. I rewrote The Serpent Passage many times, through advice from a good literary agent, and other input, and I'm so glad I did, because it really improved the end product.

We know you are a writer and undersea adventurer! Now tell us... What other impressive talents or experiences do you have under your belt?

I love to travel, to see new things, and to meet new people. I'm going to the Cayman Islands over Thanksgiving (can't wait!). I love adventure, and that's probably why my writing is of the adventurous spirit. My professional background is in technical writing, but for the past decade, I've been managing technical publication departments, so I'm also a good manager, which I've found you need to have good communication skills to be successful at. I also like to stay in shape, and go to the gym to run and lift weights... whatever it takes to stay
young and healthy, so I can keep on writing!

Again, thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to interview with us and giving readers the chance to win a copy of The Serpent Passage. It sounds like an adventures readers won't soon forget!

Book description: When William and Betty are trapped in a cavern in the Yucatán, they discover a way out through a strange passage that propels them a thousand years into the past. While searching for a way home, they become entangled in conflicts between Mayan kingdoms. Priest Quisac agrees to aid William if he promises to help his people. William is awarded the bloodstone, a magical gem that puts him in the path of Mayan gods and demons.Can William survive the challenges of the past long enough to return home? Will his love for a Mayan Princess complicate matters? How is William's destiny tied to the end of the Great Cycle in 2012?A WILD RIDE INTO THE TIMES OF THE ANCIENT MAYA

About the author: TODD ALLEN PITTS graduated from Marylhurst University with a degree in Communications, and he lives in Colorado. He was inspired to write The Serpent Passage while exploring Mayan ruins and working as a scuba instructor in the Yucatán. You can check him out on the web at these sites!


Giveaway details

This Giveaway is open to US residents only.  Participants may enter May 9st - 11th up until the virtual book tour's end.

Entries can be gained in a variety of ways as stated in the Rafflecopter. In order to be fair to everyone, all entries will be checked so please be honest! If I find an invalid entry, it will be removed from the giveaway. As following Wickedly Bookish is a mandatory entry, if I do not find your name in my list of followers, all your entries will be removed from the giveaway. I would much rather skip over this stuff and just get to the fun, but it has happened before, so I need to state it all before the entries are collected.
 Winners will be chosen within 24 hours of giveaway's end and will be notified by email. If you are a winner, you will be expected to claim your prize within 48 hours of receipt of email or another winner will be chosen.
To Enter:
  1. Be a follower of Wickedly Bookish
2. Be a US resident
3. Be 13 years old or older
4. Fill out the Rafflecopter below
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Vickieann said...

If only I could win *grin*

Chi Kittie said...

Thank you for this giveaway. The book sounds like a fun read. :)

- Beckie @ Bittersweet Enchantment