The Death Relic by Chris Kuzneski 

By Guy Bergstrom

If you read thrillers, you know the names James Patterson and Clive Cussler.

Patterson and Cussler know Chris Kuzneski.

Patterson says, “Chris Kuzneski’s writing has the same raw power as the early Stephen King.” Cussler adds, “Chris Kuzneski writes as forcefully as his tough characters act.”

With his latest thriller, THE DEATH RELIC, his characters have to be tougher than ever.

What’s at stake in this book, for the heroes personally and for the public at large?

Thanks to the doomsday predictions for 2012, the Maya have been in the news quite a bit lately—at least more than they have been for the past thousand years or so. One of the main reasons there was so much confusion about the end of the Mayan calendar (or, more accurately, the end of the most recent 5,125-year cycle) is because so little is actually known about the Maya.

Even though their civilization thrived for hundreds of years, only three Mayan texts—known as codices—have been found and made public. Most codices were burned by the Spanish conquistadors when they arrived in the New World; the rest, if they still exist, remain hidden somewhere and were forgotten by time.

In THE DEATH RELIC, the main characters make an important discovery: hundreds of Maya codices were actually spared by the Spanish and were stored in a stone vault in Central Mexico. If true, the collection would be worth an unimaginable amount of money, and more importantly, it would drastically change what we know about the Maya.

How would you describe this new book from your villain’s POV?

The codices are worth, how much? Hundreds of millions? That’s dollars, right? Not pesos? Wow! That’s a lot of money. Let’s kill everyone who gets in our way!

For casual readers, or people unfamiliar with your work, what other books and movies are comparable?

Payne & Jones—the main characters in my first seven books—are ex-Special Forces soldiers who have found several mythical treasures. Because of that, many readers have said my books are a combination of Jason Bourne and Indiana Jones, and yet a whole lot funnier.

I think that’s one of the things that separates me from other authors in my genre. I try to include several laugh-out-loud moments in all of my books.

How have your novels evolved, from your debut novel to your latest, in terms of the types of stories you’re telling and the characters you’re writing about?

All of my books have featured Payne & Jones, and yet my first novel, THE PLANTATION, was a lot darker than my recent books.

To be perfectly honest, I never planned for them to be series characters, but so many people wrote to me and told me how much they enjoyed the duo that I decided to keep them around. Thank goodness I did, or else I’d probably be writing obituaries by day and working as a male stripper by night.

Why write thrillers — and why historical thrillers?

First of all, let me stress how much I hate that term. My books aren’t historical thrillers. When you say that, people often think my main characters lived in the 1700s and shot bad guys with muskets. That couldn’t be further from the truth—although now that I think about it, I’m tempted to use a musket in my next book simply because it’s one of the few weapons that Payne & Jones haven’t used on their adventures.

Anyway, my books are modern-day thrillers, with emphasis on modern. It just so happens that my characters like to solve historical mysteries. I think that’s an important distinction to make, or else readers might pick up the book in hopes of seeing Victorian clothing or 19th-century sleuthing techniques. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just you’re not going to find Jane Austen in my books.

Oh, and why do I write thrillers? Because my goal as a writer is to entertain, and I think thrillers make the best stories. They have all the excitement and romance of a good drama without all the boring stuff in between.

*****

Chris Kuzneski is the international bestselling author of THE DEATH RELIC, THE SECRET CROWN, THE PROPHECY, THE LOST THRONE, SWORD OF GOD, SIGN OF THE CROSS, And THE PLANTATION. His thrillers have been published in over twenty languages and are sold in more than forty countries. Chris grew up in Pennsylvania and currently lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

THE DEATH RELIC will be released in hardcover and e-book on January 10. For more information about Chris and his novels, please visit his website.

Guy Bergstrom

Guy Bergstrom is a speechwriter and award-winning journalist. He wrote a thriller (FREEDOM, ALASKA) that won an award at PNWA 2013 and can be found on twitter @speechwriterguy or at his blog, redpenofdoom.com.

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