Archaeologist Riley Cooper is offered the chance of a lifetime: a chance to find the Crux Fidelis, the coronation cross of Charlemagne. Under Water Sea Adventures members believe they have found the remains of the Indigo, a heavily laden cargo ship commissioned by Charlemagne and presumed lost on its maiden voyage off the coast of southern Italy in the early 800s.
Cover Artist: Jess Small
Archaeologist Riley Cooper is offered the chance of a lifetime: a chance to find the Crux Fidelis, the coronation cross of Charlemagne. Under Water Sea Adventures members believe they have found the remains of the Indigo, a heavily laden cargo ship commissioned by Charlemagne and presumed lost on its maiden voyage off the coast of southern Italy in the early 800s. If Riley can find the cross, it will prove Charlemagne’s coronation as the First Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day had not been a spontaneous act, but rather a desperate political maneuver by a Pope in need of protection.
When Riley joins UWSA off the coast of Sorrento, Italy, tensions and tempers fly as a competing team arrives in search of the treasure and an approaching hurricane gains strength and heads straight toward the dive site. And when one of the crew is murdered, Riley must find the strength to fight back and keep the treasure out of the other team’s hands.
When I set out to write this series, I knew I wanted to focus on a character that inspires me. I have always loved history and archaeology. I have traveled the world, and though I have loved all the journeys I have taken, Italy is far and away my favorite. I also knew I needed to tap into a subject that means a great deal to me, and that is SCUBA diving and shipwrecks.
I became a SCUBA diver to overcome my fear of drowning, and of deep water. I drowned as a young girl. I remember distinctly every detail. It was in the mid-afternoon, on a hot, sunny day. We were swimming in the river behind our house. I dived in, and I hit the shale ledge, a ledge I had missed hundreds of dives before. I had been in and out of that river every summer, but on this day, fate had a surprise in store. I floated down – on my back – looking up through the water. Fingers of sunlight undulated, sparkling rays of light with silt floating through, and I think I hit the bottom, and I remember floating somewhere away. My brother Kevin was there, and he came in for me, and saved my life.
I tried through the years-unsuccessfully-to take swimming lessons, to let go of the side of the pool and make my way to the center, to go back in the river. I panicked. Over and over again.
Many, many years later, on a vacation in the Caribbean, I decided it was time I got over my fear of water. I signed up for an introductory SCUBA course. My first dive was an open water dive, on a wreck, in the open ocean, in water deeper than I had ever experienced. Though I was terrified, and hyperventilated as soon as I hit the water, I survived.
Here I am, many years later, an Advanced Open Water Diver. I went to the Keys to get a NITROX certification. I have done night dives, shipwreck dives, cave dives. I realized one day, I am so much stronger than I thought I was! And the universal truth is: we are all stronger than we think we are! We don’t give ourselves proper credit. We minimize our worth. So I decided I want to write a book about a character that was stronger than she imagined.
So I knew my premise was, and I woke up one day with the title of EXPEDITION INDIGO in my head. I had no idea what to do with that title, but once I had it, it wouldn’t let me go. Bit by bit, the story came to me, and I imagined my protagonist to be an archaeologist, a Boston academic, who has no idea what she is truly capable of, until situations present themselves and she must make choices, and do things, she had never imagined.
I created Dr. Riley Cooper, a smart archaeology, raised from the age of 14 by her maternal grandmother. She is disciplined, obsessive-compulsive, and believes a lot of things about herself that aren’t true.
When she is called upon to go to Italy on adventure to find and salvage a shipwreck from the 800s, the little girl that loved excitement, travel, discovery, and conquering odds re-emerges. She finds out she is capable of strength and courage she never knew she had.
I think that mirrors nearly everyone I know in this life. We all think we can’t handle certain things, but life comes at us in pieces, and somehow we find a way. We muddle through, we excel sometimes, and scrape by at other times. All of us have been given things to deal with we would rather have run from, but all of us are still standing.
I knew it was a high fence to climb. I was an avid reader, and loved all the Dirk Pitt (Clive Cussler’s iconic hero) novels, and of course I love the series featuring Amelia Peabody (a wonderful series character created by Elizabeth Peters), so I knew I wanted a SCUBA diving archaeologist. Publishers always say “Write something that has never been done before.” They mean well. I was asked by more than one to consider changing Riley’s gender to male. I felt it was important that Riley remain a woman. Although I am open to hearing feedback, and making innumerable editorial changes to manuscripts, that was one place I held my ground. Thankfully, I have a fantastic literary agent who believed in me, my character, and the vision I had for the series. It took a very long time to sell EXPEDITION INDIGO. Years, in fact. In that time, I kept making changes based on feedback from Beta Readers, and suggestions from editors who turned the book down, but gave valuable commentary in their rejections.
In the first book (Pub date, August 18, 2014, by Fiery Seas Publishing), Riley is in Italy. I have five more books planned. I am nearly done with the second in the series, and have the story arcs and working titles already planned. Riley is in Cyprus in book 2, Egypt in book 3, Iceland in book 4, Italy (again!) in book 5, and Austria in book 6. I am tossing some additional ideas around for the next books after the first 6, including a few adventures in the United States.
A student of languages all my life, I also wanted my character to be fluent in Italian, French, Latin, and a spattering of other languages as the need arises.
I am very grateful for the reviews I have received. Getting reviews is one of the most difficult jobs for a debut author, so I appreciate each one. I am also thankful that the book is available in e-formats and print. And last November I received an audio deal from ListenUp Audiobooks, and the audio of EXPEDITION INDIGO came out April 1. My narrator did an amazing job at creating all the distinctive characters. (Thank you, Kristin Kalbli, and ListenUp Audiobooks!).
Thank you, so much, for hosting my blog post today! I so appreciate!
About the author:
Stacy’s passion for adventure has taken her to five continents to explore over fifty countries. Stacy also plays guitar and sings, when she isn’t traveling around the world in search of new locales and new stories.
Stacy served on the Board of Trustees of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, the Pacific Northwest Mystery Writers of America chapter, and currently serves as Vice President of the Southeast Mystery Writers of America (SEMWA) chapter. She is represented by Jill Marr of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She lives in Georgia with her husband and a very large house cat named Valentino.