In nonfiction author Mezrich’s debut thriller,, anthropologist Jack Grady explores the Wonders of the World.
Where did you get your central plot conceit?
The idea that the Seven Wonders of the Ancient and Modern Worlds are linked grew out of a lifetime of research. To me, writing a thriller like this is very similar to writing nonfiction; the process includes interviews with experts, historians, anthropologists, and grave diggers.
Do you agree that Grady bears more than a passing resemblance to the cinematic hero Indiana Jones?
I set out to create my own, perhaps more modern Indiana Jones. As a kid, I wanted to be an archeologist because of Indy. When I hit college, I shifted to anthropology because field anthropologists were living the Indiana Jones lifestyle more than archeologists. So I was certainly influenced by Indiana Jones, but from the perspective of an adventurer diving into diverse, sometimes ancient cultures, searching for clues.
Do you think there’s a factual basis for stories about the Amazons, whose history and mythology play a large part in your novel?
I absolutely believe there’s a factual basis to the stories of the Amazons. Numerous ancient cultures, separated by thousands of miles and many years, have reported—in markedly similar detail—on this fierce community dominated by female warriors. Some of the more interesting details are related in diverse ancient texts multiple times.
Brett Ratner, a film director and producer, purchased the movie rights to Seven Wonders and partnered with your publisher. Can you tell us about that relationship?
Seven Wonders began with a phone call from Brett Ratner and his producing partner, Beau Flynn. A year ago, I emailed Brett to ask if he had any nonfiction ideas that might be good for me. He and Beau called me, asking if I knew anything about the Seven Wonders of the World. It was as if lightning struck; hell, I had been building models of the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids, the Great Wall, and the Colosseum since I was eight years old. Crafting this book was the best writing experience of my life.
Would it be fair to say that Jack Grady has not yet finished his career as an explorer?
I’ve got two more Grady novels in the planning stages, but even that seems to me to be just the beginning. My dream is that this series of books—and the movie adaptations—will capture some tiny portion of the magic of those Indiana Jones adventures. Jack Grady is a character that I’d like to grow with. He likes to get his hands dirty, and it’s a damn big world.