by Leonide Martin

She was born to serve the Goddess Ix Chel. But K\’inuuw Mat is destined to continue the Palenque (Lakam Ha) dynasty by marriage to Tiwol, fourth son of famous ruler Pakal. Trained in prophetic arts, she uses scrying to foresee the face of the man with whom she will bear the dynastic heir—but it is not her husband\’s image. She is shocked upon arriving at Palenque to recognize that face as her husband\’s older brother, Kan Bahlam. They are immediately attracted, sharing deep interest in astronomy. Though she resists, the magnetic force of their attraction propels them into forbidden embraces, until Kan Bahlam designs a bold plan that would solve his inability to produce a son—if he can gain his brother\’s cooperation.

Set in the splendor of Lakam Ha\’s artistic and scientific zenith, royal family conflicts and ambitions play out in a tapestry of brilliant Mayan accomplishments in calendars, astronomy, architecture, arts, and secret language codes that will astound people centuries later. As K\’inuuw Mat contends with explosive emotions, she must answer the Goddess\’ mandate to preserve Mayan culture for future generations. Her passion with Kan Bahlam leads to a pale daughter and bold son who carry this out as their civilization begins the decline and eventual collapse her prophetic vision foresees.

One great cycle rolls into the next . . .

Contemporary Mexican archeologist Francesca and her partner Charlie, a British linguist, venture into Chiapas jungles to a remote Maya village, seeking to unravel her grandmother\’s secrets. The hostile village shaman holds the key, but refuses to share with outsiders the scandal that leads to foreign blood and ancient Palenque lineages. Only by re-claiming her own shamanic heritage can Francesca learn the truth of who she is, and bring her dynasty into the present.

Eyes closed, K’inuuw Mat breathed again on the stone and said her own prayer inwardly: Ix Chel, guide my vision, open my inner sight. All is done in your service.

Extending her arm over the bowl, she gently slipped the stone into the water and watched as it settled to the bottom. Rings of ripples spread quickly across the water’s surface, rebounded from the rim and crossed each other, creating a tiny jumble that soon dissipated. When the surface was again smooth, K’inuuw Mat stared fixedly at it, clearing her mind of all thoughts. She watched and waited for an image to appear. Her task was to read in the scrying water the image of the animal that the acolyte Olal held in mind.

At first the water only reflected clouds passing above and a corner of one building. Trying not to blink, K’inuuw Mat kept staring and intensified her focus.

Animal of the jungle, animal of the fields, animal of the plains, whoever you are, come to me now, she called mentally.

Slowly, tantalizing shapes began forming on the water’s surface. She could not make out a distinct feature that might reveal which animal was starting to appear. Breathing in deeply, she closed both eyes and intensified her intention. On the exhalation, she expanded her awareness and opened herself to receive.

Both eyelids flew up and she fixed her gaze upon the water. There, almost as clearly as if she was seeing it on a jungle path, was the face of a gray fox. Its dark nose quivered, sniffing for a scent; its sharp eyes with pale brows stared at her below large cupped ears. The image remained for a brief time on the surface, and then dissolved.

“A gray fox!” she exclaimed.

Olal, the acolyte holding the animal image in mind smiled and clapped her hands together.

“It is so!” she said. “You have seen truly.”


~Follow the rest of the tour

-What inspired you to become a writer?

Being a writer just showed up as part of my nature. Sure, I was inspired by great authors I read during childhood, such as Thomas Costain and James Michener. I read constantly, historical fiction and the classics were favorites. I started writing stories as a pre-teen and kept on writing, one form or another. After a career writing non-fiction articles and textbooks, I took the plunge into historical fiction, with a large element of mysticism and paranormal happenings.

-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?

Though I\’d certainly like to be at a ceremony followed by feasting and dancing, I think the most fascinating thing would be a visit to the Underworld. The ancient Mayas were a mystical people who believed all dimensions constantly interacted—the Underworld, Middleworld, and Upperworld. They took shamanic journeys to seek information or help from deities, or to remove curses placed by shamans. The Underworld was the domain of the Death Lords, all fearful and nasty. It was a watery, slimy, underground place with huge snakes and other monsters and demons. Writing scenes taking place in the Underworld really gave free rein to my imagination, and got some characters into tight spots where all their wits were needed to survive. It\’s not all pure imagination; the Mayas left writings and legends about Underworld happenings and I drew from these to craft scenes.

-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)

My protagonist, K\’inuuw Mat, might reveal her forbidden yearning for her brother-in-law, Kan Bahlam. She had an arranged marriage with his youngest brother, but from the outset there was powerful, magnetic attraction to Kan Bahlam. From a scrying she did before they met, she saw his face as the man with whom she would produce the heir to continue the dynasty. She also had visions revealing that she had intertwined destiny with him in preserving Mayan culture for the future. But she did love her husband, didn\’t want to hurt him, and felt duty-bound to resist the attraction.

-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?

The ancient Mayas actually did have alcoholic drinks, I guess every culture does. They fermented bark of the Balche tree with honey, making a strong alcoholic drink. I think the most fun would be drinking Balche with Ab\’uk, a \”two-spirit\” noble courtier. \”Two-spirits\” were people who identified as the opposite sex, often cross-dressing and seeking same sex partners. They were readily accepted in Mayan society and considered specially favored by the Gods. Ab\’uk was once the lover of Kan Bahlam, who had gargantuan appetites and was quite the womanizer too. Ab\’uk hung out with women courtiers in chambers of queens and elite noble ladies, doing weaving and artwork along with the women. He was a gossip and great source of palace and court intrigue. I\’d learn lots about secret happenings in Palenque from Ab\’uk including the scoop on K\’inuuw Mat and Kan Bahlam.

-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?

Dwarfs were \”liminal\” beings to the Mayas, valued as court jesters. Most rulers kept dwarfs around the court, and accepted more lip from them than anyone else. They were seen as magical and having special powers for spells. If a dwarf challenged me in a place of public drinking (usually an open plaza during a feast or ceremony), I\’d quickly apologize for offending him/ her and ask what I could do to make amends. You don\’t want to be in the bad graces of a Mayan dwarf (called Aluxes in Mayan language).

-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?

Many a sage has advised \”never say never.\” The genre I believe is hardest to write is mystery. I\’m a great admirer of talented mystery writers such as Agatha Christie and Elizabeth Peters. Putting a plot together that keeps readers guessing, while offering several plausible villains, seems to require a lot of careful thinking and planning. Now that I\’ve finished my historical fiction-paranormal-fantasy series about Mayan queens, with this new book about K\’inuuw Mat, the fourth and final queen, I\’m considering what next. And wouldn\’t you know, the idea of writing mysteries based on Mayan archeological puzzles has percolated up! I\’m speculating about 1920s newly liberated young women exploring the world, getting involved in Maya lands with tomb robbers and black marketers selling ancient artifacts . . . sleuthing with local detectives who just happen to be handsome part-Mayans themselves . . . you get the idea. If I can pull it off.


Leonide (Lennie) Martin: Retired California State University professor, former Family Nurse Practitioner, Author and Maya researcher, Research Member Maya Exploration Center.

My books bring ancient Maya culture and civilization to life in stories about both actual historical Mayans and fictional characters. I\’ve studied Maya archeology, anthropology, and history from the scientific and indigenous viewpoints. While living for five years in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, I apprenticed with Maya Elder Hunbatz Men, becoming a Solar Initiate and Maya Fire Women in the Itzá Maya tradition. I\’ve studied with other indigenous teachers in Guatemala, including Maya Priestess-Daykeeper Aum Rak Sapper and Maya elder Tata Pedro. The ancient Mayas created the most highly advanced civilization in the Western hemisphere, and my work is dedicated to their wisdom, spirituality, scientific, and cultural accomplishments through compelling historical novels.

My interest in ancient Mayan women led to writing the Mayan Queens\’ series called Mists of Palenque. This 4-book series tells the stories of powerful women who shaped the destinies of their people as rulers themselves, or wives of rulers. These remarkable Mayan women are unknown to most people. Using extensive research and field study, I aspire to depict ancient Palenque authentically and make these amazing Mayan Queens accessible to a wide readership.

My writing has won awards from Writer\’s Digest for short fiction, and The Visionary Mayan Queen: Yohl Ik\’nal of Palenque (Mists of Palenque Series Book 1) received the Writer\’s Digest 2nd Annual Self-Published eBook award in 2015. The Controversial Mayan Queen: Sak K\’uk of Palenque (Book 2) published in 2015. The Mayan Red Queen: Tz\’aakb\’u Ahau of Palenque (Book 3) received a Silver Medal in Dan Poynter\’s Global eBook Awards for 2016. The Prophetic Mayan Queen: K\’inuuw Mat of Palenque (Book 4) is the final in the series, published in November 2018.

I live with my husband David Gortner and two white cats in Oregon\’s Willamette Valley wine country, where I enjoy gardening, hiking, and wine tasting.

For more information about my writing and the Mayas, visit:

Amazon Author Page


Leonide Martin will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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