Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen by Jordan Jacobs, a middle-grade/young adult book about a young girl with a passion for archaeology.
If you know me, you’ll know that I studied archaeology and ancient history at university, and my ambition is to one day be a museum curator. So how could I turn down the chance to read a book about a young archaeologist, written by an archaeologist?
For the blog tour I have an interview with the author, Jordan Jacobs, and I’ll be posting my review of the book tomorrow. So let’s begin!
Rinn: I studied archaeology myself, and I LOVED all the little references hidden in the book, like the Pitt-Rivers twins and the Aubreys. Will this be a running theme through the rest of the books?
Jordan: I’m so pleased you caught those! Yes, there are a lot of little “easter eggs” in Warrior Queen for those who have some background in archaeology. There were some in the first book, too, just as there will be in the third. I had some fun with that, especially with finding archaeological terms that also work as names (Cairn, Barrows….)
Rinn: I spotted those too! I thought it was so clever. What inspired you to start writing fiction about archaeology and archaeologists?
Jordan: I wanted to write books that I would’ve loved to read as a kid. I was initially drawn to the adventure aspects of archaeology, but feel strongly that my books should have a scientific component as well, so that young readers could get a sense of how the discipline actually works and why it is important.
Rinn: I loved the book at my age now, but I wish there’d been something like it when I was Samantha’s age too! Is Samantha influenced by your younger self at all? I love her enthusiasm and passion for archaeology.
Jordan: Oh, definitely. But while my earliest impressions of archaeology leaned more towards the adventure side of things, Sam’s interest lies firmly in the science–which she has some real knowledge of, thanks to her archaeologist uncle.
Rinn: So far, Samantha’s travels have taken her to the Peruvian Andes and Cambridge. Where do you think she’ll go next?
Jordan: I know precisely where she’s headed… but I’m not telling! I’ll just say that it’s somewhere very different from the first two settings, and involves an aspect of archaeology that Samantha has never encountered before.
Rinn: Experimental archaeology? GIS? Thermoluminescence dating? *throws around random terms* What periods of history or particular locations would you love to write about next?
Jordan: Well, next up is Samantha Sutton Book 3. But historical fiction is something I’d love to attempt. I’ve always been fascinated by contact stories: the first English delegations to the Mughal court, Esteban’s arrival at Zuni… these incredible moments in human history where two vastly different worldviews encounter one another and are forever changed.
Rinn: Those are also moments I don’t know much about, so I’d definitely be interested in reading more about them. How did you go about researching for the books? Were they already time periods/locations you’d researched previously or perhaps dug at?
Jordan: All the books are set in places where I’ve worked, studied, or spent a significant amount of time. As an undergraduate, I lived in the Peruvian Andes for a summer-long project. I did my graduate archaeology work at Cambridge, so I know the area well. This made research much much easier, because much of it I’d done years before–and for course credit!
Rinn: I can tell you all about Silchester if you ever feel like writing about it, haha! That’s where I worked throughout university. What is your usual writing process? Do you like to stick to a schedule?
Jordan: With a toddler at home and a full-time job, I don’t have the luxury of a schedule. But I happily write whenever I can (a glance at my clock tells me that it’s 5:30am right now. Yikes!).
Rinn: Eek, that’s dedication! Well thank you very much for taking some time to answer these questions. If you were given a time machine, where and when would you go and why?
Jordan: I’d love a glimpse of Plantagenet England. I’m sort of a Richard the Lionheart groupie–though I don’t think we’d have similar views on anything–and it would be interesting to see how things functioned in his time. But I’m also a fan of Back to the Future, and would know to be extremely cautious (rift in the space time continuum and all that). I might just stick my head out for a second or two. I don’t think I’d linger long.
Rinn: This is more of a personal question, as someone who is going on to study museum studies and heritage. I see that you have worked at many museums and for many heritage organisations – what advice would you give to someone interested in that field?
Jordan: Network. Request informational interviews. It’s the kind of work that draws passionate people, and it’s important that employers can sense your commitment to the field.
Rinn: Thank you so much for that advice! And finally, which historical figures would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?
Jordan: Ada Lovelace, Howard Carter, Gustav Mahler, and Boudica (before her troubles began). I’d make burgers.
About the Author
Jordan Jacobs has loved archaeology for as long as he can remember. His childhood passion for mummies, castles and Indiana Jones led to his participation in his first excavation, at age 13, in California’s Sierra Nevada. After completing a high school archaeology program in the American Southwest, he followed his passion through his education at Stanford, Oxford, and Cambridge. Since then, Jordan’s work for the Smithsonian, the American Museum of Natural History and UNESCO Headquarters in Paris has focused on policy and the protection of archaeological sites in the developing world.
Jordan’s research and travel opportunities have taken him to almost fifty countries– from Cambodia’s ancient palaces, to Tunisia’s Roman citadels, to Guatemala’s Mayan heartland and the voodoo villages of Benin.
Jordan now works as Head of Cultural Policy at UC Berkeley’s Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and daughter.