Tag Archives: aztec midnight

Cuernavaca: a tourist destination in hell?

Aztec Midnight Church

I’ve long been fascinated with American Indian culture, and have quite a collection of artifacts. My interest inspired my short story Gooseberry (now free on the publisher’s web site) and Aztec Midnight. So it was especially gratifying to see this generous review on Amazon (and from a “Book Goddess” with a PhD!):

As a professor of American Indian Studies, I’m always wary about misrepresentation of of diverse Indian peoples and cultures. I have no qualms about Tuggle’s research for his novella, Aztec Midnight.It’s packed with action, starting ominously. We discover that Dr. Jon Barrett and his university librarian wife Susanna, are in Cuernavaca for two reasons; she to take a Spanish immersion class and he to find and identify a mysterious Aztec knife. An archaeologist, he specializes in the history of pre-Columbian weapons at the University of Texas in Austin. What Susanna does not know is that he is working for the US Department of State on a mission to help stop drug cartels.

Further plot description would be a spoiler, so it suffices to say that Susanna is kidnapped by a powerful drug cartel. It wants the knife, used far in the past for a sacred ritual in which the hearts are ripped out of those to be sacrificed. It has deadly magical powers, and the leader of the cartel wants to use it to destroy the Mexican government. Jon must choose between rescuing his wife or losing her if he does not deliver. His narrative speeds up as he has only five hours to find Susanna. He is chased, jailed, and then abducted by the cartel.I won’t reveal the astonishing ending.

Tuggle also excels in description. Although Cuernavaca sounds like a tourist destination in hell, his rendering of the population is sympathetic and colorful. The author may not realize he has created a power couple worthy of more adventures. The seemingly nerdy professor and his wife are courageous and smart; they deserve a series of their own. I’m looking forward to a sequel!

Cristian Mihai Reviews Aztec Midnight

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From Cristian Mihai: “This novella is one hell of a roller coaster ride. It’s got just the right amount of suspense, well delivered, to make me want to get to the end as soon as possible. The dialogue is excellent, the plot flows in a natural manner. The story works. It just does.”

Read the rest of Aztec Midnight: a novella by M.C. Tuggle at Cristian Mihai’s blog.

An Aztec Midnight Reader in Mexico

I received the following email and pics from a reader of Aztec Midnight currently vacationing in Mexico. I thought I’d share them:

Finished reading your book while down here in Mexico, Mike. You did your homework. Great story! And the street scenes are right out of your book.

Mexican Street Scene

In Puerto Vallarta for three weeks. Be back in Iceland, I mean Ohio next week. Going out on my friend’s boat Friday for a two day fishing trip.

PuertaVallartaBoat

Since you mentioned pulque in the book I thought you might like to know we’ve been drinking our own private stock we got up in Guadalajara.

Pulque

Keep up the good work! John

Thanks, John! I appreciate your comments. Enjoy your trip! (And careful with the pulque.)

We Are Not The World

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Sarah Hoyt reminds us how presumptuous and simply wrong-headed it is to imagine the rest of the world is just like us, only dressed differently. As she puts it, “I don’t think anyone realizes just how different the texture of life is elsewhere.”

She’s right. My wife and I spent three weeks in a village in central Mexico where I researched Aztec Midnight. Though I’d been in the country before, I was not prepared for what I encountered.

The locals we met were extremely hospitable, generous, and eager to talk to us. I admired how social they are — we attended a birthday party for a 75-year-old man we’d just met, and our hosts kept offering us homemade rum and beer, pastries, and enchiladas. They love to fiesta.

But Mexicans are indeed different. There’s a certain Mexican attitude that encompasses both cheerfulness and fatalism, and it’s expressed with a grin and a shrug of the shoulders. Their national character is a striking contrast to American triumphalism.

The more we learn about others, the more we can appreciate who we are.

Q&A with Aztec Midnight Author, M.C. Tuggle

Here’s a short interview in which I discuss my writing process, what inspires me, and the back story of Aztec Midnight. 

Trigger Warning: Yes, the picture accompanying the interview shows my actual work space. Folks used to tidy offices may be offended, even shocked. It’s chaotic, but I manage to write there. Somehow.

Gifting an eBook

Aztec Midnight ebook

Now here’s a great Christmas gift idea from The Novel Fox:

Try ebooks this year as a gift for travelers, commuters, book club members, coworkers, teachers . . . or any book lover!

Many e-bookstores allow you to gift an ebook. It’s easy to make the ebook a more tangible gift by printing the book cover on card stock or photo paper and including the details on how to redeem it. An ebook is perfect for a stocking stuffer or a little something extra to go in a card, along with a baked good or small gift. Ebooks are an inexpensive, easy, and thoughtful gift for all occasions!

Aztec Midnight Release

Aztec Midnight

Click to enlarge

AZTEC MIDNIGHT

By M.C. Tuggle

When drug cartels begin vandalizing ancient Aztec sites throughout Mexico in search of the sacred obsidian knife of Aztec emperor Ahuitzotl, the Mexican government reaches out to the U.S. State Department for assistance. Dr. Jon Barrett, an archaeologist and pre-Columbian weapons expert, then journeys to Cuernavaca with his wife Susanna at the request of Eric Winwood, a high-ranking State Department official, to find and rescue the knife before the cartels can claim it. Locating the knife proves more challenging and dangerous than Dr. Barrett anticipated, and he and Susanna soon find themselves at the center of the cartels’ search. For Dr. Barrett and his wife to survive, he will be forced to apply his knowledge of ancient weapons in the face of an ancient power he never imagined.

“This fast-paced novella amps up the suspense with well-crafted dialogue and a Mexican drug cartel subplot. . . . M. C. Tuggle’s meticulous creation of a suspenseful, driving thriller makes Aztec Midnight very engaging.” – Foreword Clarion Reviews

“It zips right along from twist to twist, eventually arriving at a bloody finale.” – Kirkus Reviews

Click here to buy Aztec Midnight and to read an excerpt. For background on the creation of Aztec Midnight, click here.

Mens sana in corpore sano

The central theme in my writing is the struggle to live an authentically human life in a world that is globalized, homogenized, and ground down to airy abstractions. There is no doubt in my mind that the proliferation of modern afflictions, from depression to diabetes, is the result of an artificial lifestyle that disdains the physical and idolizes the abstract.

We are told to dedicate our lives to economic success and despise non-material fulfillment. Homo economicus wanders the earth in a body that is little more than the minds’s chassis.

So I was pleased to see this recent article in the Johns Hopkins Newsletter discussing the expanding chasm between human needs and the ill-fitting lifestyle we have allowed to overwhelm and warp our lives:

Almost all aspects of our modern lives that wouldn’t be included under the “Paleolithic” lifestyle are inherently bad for us. Studies have shown that even artificial lights interfere with melatonin production and alter our circadian rhythms. Our sedentary lifestyles present some grave health complications for bodies sculpted by millions of years of evolution to be able to handle insane amounts of physical exertion. For most of human history, sitting in a chair for nine hours a day and surviving would have been mutually exclusive concepts. We just haven’t been built to do it. We are completely out of our element in this world of sensory excess. And it’s not looking like we’ll ever adapt to it while modern medicine and societal norms effectively prevent the barbaric natural selection process from occuring. So because we will not adapt to these new conditions, the only thing we can do is adapt our individual lifestyles.

How can we salvage our humanity in such a world? The author suggests what I believe is a pretty good start:

I suggest that we should all let out our inner Homo erectus as much as possible. In an ideal world this means coming downstairs and spending time talking with your housemates or roommates instead of watching Netflix in your room. This means eating more nutrient-rich food that hasn’t been designed in a lab. This means cutting Internet porn out of your life. This means reading more books in print. This means taking on that huge project. This means getting sweaty on a regular basis. This means living life in the manner that millions of years of natural selection designed you to. You just might find that if you’re cognizant of the needs and health of your inner paleolithic cave-dwelling hominid, he or she will fight tooth and nail to get you ahead in life.

Yes. Not a bad start.

Jonathan Barrett, the protagonist of my novella Aztec Midnight, is passionate about many things, including his wife, Aztec history, the memory of his father, and the lore of ancient weapons he learned from Robert Horse, the elderly Mescalero Apache who befriended the young Barrett in his native Texas. Barrett is what the ancient Romans venerated, a man who has achieved mens sana in corpore sano — a sound mind in a healthy body.

Yukio Mishima relates his journey toward achieving that ideal in his highly readable Sun and Steel, which you can read at Google docs.

And for a glimpse of what could happen if society staggers too far down the road of a globalized, abstracted world, you can read my flash fiction piece Snake Heart.