A stranger and occasional customer handed me a library book one day in 1983 while I was selling burritos in the streets of Juneau, Alaska. He said I could read Quest for the Lost City (1951), a narrative written by a couple from California who had searched for a lost Maya city in the jungles of México in the 1940s. (Dana and Ginger Lamb eventually spent time with the Lacandón Maya in Chiapas and found the lost city). Alaska Airlines offered a round-trip fare from Juneau to México City for $100 later that same year, a bargain too good to pass up. So my girlfriend and I took off for México. Someone told us about the artist town of San Cristóbal de las Casas, high in the mountains of southern México.
When we tired of the beach scene, we flew into Chiapas and shared a taxi for the thirty-mile trip through the jungle-covered hills to San Cristóbal. One of the other passengers, a museum curator from New Mexico, told us of a place to stay called Na-Bolom that was nice, cheap, and safe, a compound surrounded by a ten-foot adobe wall. When we entered the hotel through a large, hand-carved door, I immediately noticed pictures lining the walls of the Lacandón Maya in xikul, their customary white cotton tunic. Unbeknownst to me, I had been delivered to their front door. My own experiences in the area, bolstered by the Lambs' adventures, started rattling around in my head, inspiring a short story. One evening in 1988, I sat down and started writing the rough draft that is now Chapter 3 of Na Bolom.
From then on, I was hooked. I didn't begin with the idea of writing a novel. Just a three- or four-page story, then another, and another. In time, it became apparent that these short stories were part of a larger tale, and I began tying them together. I never developed a storyline or outline. Na Bolom just sort of wrote itself. There was something compelling about the story coming through me and I became passionate about recording it. It was my passion for this story that drove me. Sometimes I would write for eight, ten hours day and often past midnight. At one point I was unemployed and wrote seven days a week for a year. You might say I was obsessed, or possessed. So the reason I'm a writer is because of this story - I had to get the damn thing out of my head!
Born and raised in the Southwest, I currently reside in Prescott, Arizona.