Here's Cecilia Velastegui shared with Literanista:
Q: What inspired you to write the book?
Missing in Machu Picchu was a result of a confluence of events in my life: my fond memories of my indigenous nannies from the Andes, our family’s unusual practice of believing in the present-day proximity of our long-dead great-grandmother, my understanding of the clash between the Inca and the Spanish cultures in early colonial Peru and its aftermath, and my surreal experience hiking the Inca Trail.
To this heady mix of Andean lore, I wanted to introduce a generation of readers used to online dating, vampires, and angels, to the real-life, present-day, presence of Andean mummies, and to the perils of online dating! As a former marriage and family therapist, I looked at data and read frightning stories about online dating. I commiserated with my friends’ experiences with online dating, and I took their disillusionment with online dating on a dark psychological journey on the Inca Trail, a geographical location where one is literally steps away from life and death.
My lifelong interest and research in Andean mythology and its pantheon made its way to the forefront of Missing in Machu Pichhu. By mixing factual and real historical details, such as the methodical steps of an Andean shaman’s blessing, I wanted to bring the reader into the Andean world of yesterday and today. For many years, I’ve studied the 16th and 17th century Spanish Colonial chronicles of Cieza de Léon, Juan de Betanzos, and Garcilaso de la Vega.
Their observations of the ancient Andean practices were both alarming and informative. In Missing in Machu Picchu, I included the 17th century drawings of chronicler Guamán Poma de Ayala. I knew of the existence of many of his drawings, but the drawing of the procession of the mallqui, the mummy central to my novel, had me digging in my collection and in libraries for quite some time.
Q: What was the most interesting thing you realized during the writing process?
Without a doubt I realized how central love is to our lives. The ancient Andean people could not let go of their departed ancestors, they loved them too much to ever forget them, and therefore, they kept their mummified bodies nearby. Modern-day women search for a soul mate; they also want to experience an all-encompassing and eternal love.
Visit Ceciliavelastegui.com to learn more.