"Geysers," he said. "Shoot out of ground. Very sudden. Fry you alive." His bulging eyes peered through the unkempt mohawk drooping across his face. Unblinking, like the eyes of a reptile. "Fireballs," he continued, "flying out of nowhere. Swallow tourist. Become dead."
Meeting his gaze, Carter tried not to blink too. What was he talking about? Why was he so desperate to keep them away? Conrad had definitely been there. Disappeared there, possibly. She imagined a fireball spinning down from the sky to devour him, his camera flying over the edge, released by his charred and lifeless fingers. She suppressed a shudder.
A lost ancient civilization and the tomb of a legendary king lie buried beneath centuries of ash on the volcanic planet Thror, but that’s not the only reason sixteen-year-old Carter has tricked her Archaeology of Outer Space class into coming here. Her best friend Conrad has just disappeared on a trip to Thror, leaving behind little more than a broken vintage camera. The strange and disturbing photographs she manages to extract make her suspect Conrad’s disappearance is somehow connected to the hidden tomb of the last king of Thror.
Unfortunately, the ludicrously over-friendly ‘Furry Giants’ who have taken over the planet’s barren surface would rather offer her cheap souvenirs than answers, and the local officials insist they have no record of Conrad’s existence. Inspired by fear for Conrad’s life and the chance to make the greatest archaeological discovery of the century, Carter and her friends follow Conrad’s footsteps deep into the mountains of Thror’s forbidden Black Zone and launch an illicit excavation.
Coded messages, stunning ancient ruins, and clues left by Conrad himself begin to surface as the young archaeologists fall victim to an alarming series of accidents staged by the increasingly hostile Furry Giants. Piecing together a history of dictatorship, terrorism and disguise, Carter glimpses the horrors beyond Thror’s flamboyant façade and startling revelations about the friend she thought she knew. The masks of Thror hide devastating secrets, and the golden tomb buried deep in the frozen core may claim the lives of everyone she loves.
I am an author and independent filmmaker/stop motion animator with a BFA in Stop Motion Animation from the School of Visual Arts in New York and a PhD in Film Studies from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland, UK). My thesis focuses on silent film adaptations of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Gothic novels, with a special emphasis on psychological and aesthetic representations of the Monster figure. My debut novel, a YA Sci-Fi adventure called Digging in the Stars, is forthcoming with Blaze Publishing on March 28, 2017.
Raised by an Egyptologist mother, I grew up among museums and excavation sites, where I developed an unhealthy fascination with ancient art and mythology. I divide my time between bringing 12”-tall people to life in my studio in Edinburgh, excavating ancient tombs in the Egyptian desert, and researching Gothic literary monsters in silent film. I have worked for more than 10 years as photographer and videographer for the South Asasif Conservation Project, an archaeological expedition in Egypt and I have published numerous articles on film and archaeology.
I write, direct, design, and animate short films and commissioned projects in my studio in Edinburgh, Scotland and have been employed as an animator, screenwriter, modelmaker and art director for studios in Edinburgh, South Korea and Qatar. I have produced commissioned projects for IdeasTap in London, the Arts Trust Scotland and the British Library. My shorts have won competitions and screened at various international festivals including the Edinburgh Fringe. In 2015, my short film The Burglar With the Yellow Hand was nominated for an Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) Research in Film Award.
You can find out more about all aspects of my work on my website, http://yorwickcastle.com
My new blog http://KatherineBlakeneyStardigger.blogspot.com is all about Digging in the Stars and my references and inspirations as a writer.