When I was a kid, there was a bookstore in Toronto called the World’s Biggest Bookstore. I don’t know if it really was the world’s biggest, but it was truly gigantic, especially if you were ten years old. To get to the kids’ section, you went up the escalator to the second floor and then up another little flight of steps to the back of the store. This was my heaven. On weekends my parents would take me and leave me in that little section for hours (it was the 1980s) and I would sit there and read.
I was allowed to buy one book per visit and I bought every one of the Ladybird Great Civilizations series. China. The Vikings, Egypt and the Incas. And the Aztecs. I read that thing so often the cover fell off. I was obsessed with it and everything Aztec.
When I decided to write a band of warriors series, there was no question that the first warrior would be Aztec. However, unlike the people in the admittedly bloodthirsty Ladybird history (there was a page about how children were punished by inhaling chili smoke and I think it had an accompanying illustration), Cal would be troubled about what he had done. As a warrior dedicated to the Southern Hummingbird, he would have known his duty was to get blood to keep Huitzilopochtli strong. But what would happen to Cal when he was resurrected and realized it was all for nothing? What would he do and how would he cope? That's what I wanted to explore.
Research and Inspiration
Daily Life of the Aztecs by Jacques Soustelle
Handbook to Life in the Aztec World by Manuel Aguilar-Moreno
The extraordinary Obsidian and Blood: the collected Acatl novels by Aliette de Bodard as an inspiration