In this first book in a new series, Tess Livingston meets Ian Ritter at a roadside stop high in the Andes, waiting for a bus to the mysterious town of Esperanza. Their meeting will change their lives forever. They have been brought together because they hold the key in a mystical war between the kind spirits of the dead who guard humanity and the hungry ghosts - brujos - who exist only to possess living human bodies and return, however briefly, to life.
The paperback edition of the book is now available.
One of the delightful challenges of creating a place from the landscape of imagination is figuring out the basics. I knew that I wanted this city to be very high in the Andes, higher than Quito, which is at nearly 10,000 feet. And I knew I wanted it to be relatively small - perhaps 20,000 residents - with lots of old buildings and narrow streets where the history was so thick you could smell it in the air.
Esperanza's roots date back several thousand years. It has two distinct sections to it - the old city and the newer, urban area. It lies at just over 13,000 feet, high enough for altitude sickness, and high enough so that it's isolated. Since it's just north of the equator, the weather is pretty much the same year around - cool during the day, colder at night.
Quito is an 8 hour drive by private car and even longer by bus. The closest town is Dorado, a 90 minute drive on twisted mountain roads, 7000 feet lower than Esperanza, and on the other side of the Rio Palo, the river that divides Esperanza from the rest of Ecuador. Due to precipitous winds and terrain, the city's airport was closed decades ago.
Every year on the summer solstice, Ecuadorians celebrate the Festival of the Sun in Dorado, in honor of Initi, the Incan god of the sun.
Here are some of the scenes in and around Esperanza as well as scenes from other places in the book. An Ecuadorian friend of my daughter's, Andy Munoz, took most of these photos.
on a clear day fabric from Otavalo a view from Cotopaxi volcano
the faces of Ecuador