Michael Marcotte is no stranger to the exotic locales that provide the settings for his writing. He has traveled to more than forty countries on six continents, and speaks several languages. Photographs taken by the author of lions, sharks, elephants, and jaguars adorn the walls of both his Norman, Oklahoma home and office. Whether diving with sharks, trekking through Amazon jungles, or meandering through Arab medinas, Marcotte says he is usually cataloging dozens of images and sensations for later use in magazine articles or fiction projects. Setting and authenticity are important to him.
     "The map is not the territory," he quotes.
     Two trips into the Amazon, including the author's latest - to the restricted Madre de Dios Jungle - provided the firsthand knowledge of the backdrop for his debut novel, GOLD IN THE SHADOW.
     "Readers experience events vicariously through whatever world the author is able to create," says Marcotte. "If that world isn't an escape from the norm, then the book is probably not going to get read. Plot and interesting characters come foremost, but an exotic setting doesn't hurt."
     Marcotte's passion for traveling and knack for languages stems from a combination of home and professional backgrounds. Schooled in French from an early age by his father, the author first traveled abroad on a high school trip to Europe. He later received a degree in Modern Languages from the University of Oklahoma, and worked as a trilingual Customs investigator while on military duty near the French\German border in Europe. These experiences expanded into an avocation that Marcotte says he found necessary to finance via an unrelated career in Information Technology. He has made trips outside the United States in all but three years since 1970, including destinations such as Russia, Honduras, Egypt, Kenya and other sites off the traditional tourist paths. His experience and reputation as a well-traveled linguist who was comfortable in front of large audiences, caused him to be tapped by the Rotary Foundation to lead a 1992 group study exchange team to the Brazilian Amazon.
     "The farther away from phones and paved roads, the more I like it," he says. "If there's a rain forest or any ancient ruins within reach, so much the better."
     After selling several articles to computer magazines, the author also began composing travel-related pieces.
     "This first book started out as a magazine article about Morocco," he jokes. "It got completely out of hand. Before I knew what had happened, it was a novel set in Peru."
     GOLD IN THE SHADOW is an archaeological suspense thriller that follow the exploits of an expedition into the mostly uncharted Madre de Dios Jungle. Legendary accounts of the lost city of Gran Paititi figure predominantly in the story, which also blends elements from both Inca and Egyptian mythologies. A female Indiana Jones-type protagonist provides a further twist on the action adventure genre.
     "There are vampire bats, piranha, poison dart Indians, deadly vipers, deception, romance, good guys, bad guys, a touch of Joseph Campbell, a smidgen of Karl Jung and a few surprises. What more could you ask for?" the author asks with a grin.
     Marcotte is currently at work on a second novel, for which the author draws from an 19-year career in Information Technology to spin a technothriller yarn involving virtual reality. Marcotte received a MBA from the University of Oklahoma in 1981, and spent five years with the worlds largest consulting firm, followed by fourteen years as a computer systems director.
     "There have been a lot of virtual reality stories written, but I still haven't encountered one that was even remotely true to life. I wanted to use the surreal aspects of virtual reality without getting outlandish. It's perfectly possible to approximate the actual state of VR technology, and still have an exiting story with a chilling plot. The greater challenge will be to finish writing the new novel, before the pace of changes in technology make it obsolete."
     Meanwhile, escape from the daily grind can be found in Marcotte's action-packed debut novel, GOLD IN THE SHADOW, available June, 2000, from Amazon.com and most book stores.
(GOLD IN THE SHADOW, trade paperback, 376 pages, $18.95, Writers Club Press, IBSN-0-595-09414-7)

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