East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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f7d3180b8e619e1ee49ad82f72d91bceIsn’t this business of writing a hoot?
For instance…

About five years ago I outlined an idea for a series of stories.
In a nutshell – the adventures of a team of disgruntled and hard-up university researchers that recycle themselves as “retrievers of ancient artifacts”.
Basically, a series of stories about a band of highly qualified looters1.

The series would have been called “Huaqueros”.
Nothing came out of it.

Right now Huaqueros is the working title of a novella I’m writing.
I’m preserving only the artifact looters bit, and moving the story to a more pulp setting.

And in case you are wondering…

A huaquero is a person who clandestinely excavates at archaeological sites for the purpose of obtaining marketable antiquities; a looter. The term is derived from the Quechua word ‘huaca’ (also ‘wak’a’).

(we’ll get to the huaca bit, later)

The story is currently in its outlining/research phase. I’ve got the character sketched, a few general ideas, the setting.


And doing some research I landed on the Trafficking Culture blog. That is an absolute treasure trove of material.

Trafficking Culture aims to produce an evidence-based picture of the contemporary global trade in looted cultural objects. This research programme is based at the University of Glasgow and is funded by the European Research Council.

And this also means I’ll be following a three-weeks course on the subject – because enrolling in online courses is the best way to do research, fast and to the point (and fun!)

But back to the huaca in huaqueros

Prior to the Spanish Conquest, a ‘huaca’ was anything that was sacred with an emphasis on sacred places. Today the term is most often ascribed to archaeological sites. In the form ‘huaco’, it normally, but not exclusively, means an ancient ceramic piece. Depending on the context, use of the term ‘huaca’ in modern times can imply that there is still a sacred quality to these sites and objects.

A sacred quality.
I love that.
Because the supernatural/mystical element, that I was still considering as a possible part of my novella, has just sneaked in the plot right through the title.
I usually take this sort of fuzzy serendipity as a sign that the story is moving in the right direction.

I’ll keep you posted.

  1. now that I think about it, the premise is a cross between Indiana Jones and Ghostbusters

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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