Kid Reporters

This Book Rocks!

TIME For Kids spoke to archaeologist Jordan Jacobs about the second book in his mystery series

May 02, 2014
COURTESY COMPTON FAMILY

TFK Kid Reporter Amelia Compton gets the inside scoop on the newest book from author Jordan Jacobs.

Amateur archaeologist Samantha Sutton is back! The second book in author Jordan Jacobs’ mystery series, Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen, is a page-turner. Still shaken from a terrifying archaeological dig in Peru, 12-year-old Sam cautiously embarks on another adventure with her archaeologist uncle. Their task is simple enough: survey a site in Cambridge, England where a theme park will be built.

But Sam soon senses danger after she uncovers artifact after extraordinary artifact. Will her discoveries prove that Boudica, the Celtic warrior queen, once lived on the site? Or will Sam’s enemies ensure the mystery is never solved?

As an author, Jacobs enjoys exploring the issues in the field of archaeology in his books. That’s because he’s a trained archaeologist. The first book in the series, Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies, centers on the problem of looting at archaeological sites. The second book, Winter of the Warrior Queen, looks at how people in various countries view archaeology differently. In England, for example, the government encourages the public to explore historical sites. Jacobs added this twist to the Warrior Queen storyline. In the story, Samantha’s friend Graham and his father use metal detectors, rather than a trowel and brush, to search for clues to the past.

TFK Kid Reporter Amelia Compton spoke with Jacobs about the second book in the Samantha Sutton series and about his current work on the third, which is due out next year.

TFK:

How did you come up with the idea for the second book in the series?

JORDAN JACOBS:

I wanted Winter of the Warrior Queen to be very different from the first book in the series. That book is about what happens when people loot archaeological sites. The second book has some of that too, but I also wanted to add a question that comes up often in archaeology. What if someone wants to build something on a major archaeological site?

TFK:

In what ways did you use your experience as an archaeologist to write this book?

JACOBS:

I know the setting of the book really well. I studied archaeology in graduate school at Cambridge University in England. All the Samantha Sutton books are built around the artifacts that she finds and the artifacts are all real. They are things that archaeologists have actually excavated from the sites where Samantha gets to work. As an archaeologist, I know how important these little bits of evidence are and how to tell their stories.

Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen is the second book in a mystery series.
Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen is the second book in a mystery series.

TFK:

Did you do any research to write this book?

JACOBS:

I read a lot about Boudica, the Warrior Queen. I learned what both history and archaeology say about her. I also read a lot about the hobby of metal detecting in England.  As an archaeologist, I'm trained to think that if you take something home from an archaeological site, that's looting. But in England, that’s not only legal, the government actually encourages it!

TFK:

How has Samantha Sutton’s character developed in the latest book?

JACOBS:

In this book, she's coming off a scary experience in Peru.  She had a terrifying summer, and I really wanted to make that feel real. She's more wary. She is still very curious and interested in the past. While she still loves her archaeologist uncle, she doesn't trust him quite as much to keep her safe. She agrees to go to England with him in this book because she thinks England is going to be more familiar to her and a lot safer than Peru. But that doesn't turn out to be the case.

TFK:

Did you find it easier to write from a girl's point-of-view this time around?

JACOBS:

Because I'm a male author, I get asked this a lot. I feel like I know her so much better this time and that made Sam’s character easier to write. That's true for all of the characters.

TFK:

Did you encounter any writing difficulties while working on this book?

Kid Reporter
Amelia Compton

JACOBS:

I had a deadline this time, so there was a lot of pressure to get things done. The first book I wrote over a couple of years, whenever I felt inspired. But this time I had to be disciplined. I actually think it made for a much better book.

TFK:

What do you think kids will enjoy most about this latest book in the series?

JACOBS:

They'll like that it's a big adventure, it's a mystery, it's scary, and it has some interesting science. It also deals with one of the most fascinating historical stories I've ever read. There’s a lot of humor in this book, too.

TFK:

Can you tell us about the next book in the series?

JACOBS:

The title that we're working with now is Samantha Sutton and the Temple of Traitors. It's a really big adventure.  It's set somewhere very different from England and Peru. The first book dealt with looting and the second book dealt with looting and the harm that can come to archaeological sites from construction. The third deals with how archaeology is portrayed in movies and video games. Here's a hint for people who have read the first two books: One of the titles I came up with was Samantha Sutton and the Pillager of the Past.

TFK:

Do you still work as an archaeologist?

JACOBS:

I do. There are a lot of different kinds of archaeologists, and they do different kinds of jobs. I used to work out in the field excavating artifacts. Now I work with museums and international organizations on what happens to artifacts after they're excavated.

TFK:

What do you enjoy most about being an archaeologist?

JACOBS:

When you're coming across these artifacts that real people made in their daily life, you get this eerie sense of time travel. It's like you're sort of meeting the people in the past who used those objects. It's this incredible connection I feel with those individuals as people. I also like that these bits and pieces from the past are a puzzle that you have to put together.

TFK:

Do your skills as an archaeologist come in handy as you're writing?

JACOBS:

I think that both jobs are about telling stories. In writing and in archaeology you have to tell stories that make sense. You have to tell a story that's logical using bits and pieces.

TFK:

Do you have any advice for kids who want to become authors?

JACOBS:

Practice. Write as much as you can. Be easy on yourself. Try new things. Try different points of view. It's equally important to read a lot and see what other authors do to tell stories and make characters real to their readers.


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