2019 IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards) - Gold Medal for Best First Book - Fiction
2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards - Finalist for Multicultural Fiction
2019 National Indie Excellence Award - Winner for Multicultural Fiction
The tale begins in the sacred city of Machu Picchu when a temple virgin is immaculately impregnated by Inti, the Sun God, during the June Solstice of 1511. Her child will become a prophet and will be a boy, because all children conceived in this manner are male. But for the first time in the history of The People, the child born nine months later is a female and carries a birthmark on her forehead in the shape of a condor, the sacred bird that delivers the souls of the deceased to the Celestial River.
From an early age, Umina's clairvoyance and ability to communicate with animals and even plants become apparent. Seeking to improve upon her natural gifts as a healer, she convinces a shaman to take her on as his apprentice. With his help, she becomes aware of the strange details of her birth and of a secret prophecy – that one day her land will be invaded by tall, white strangers from across the sea who will tear down The People's sacred sites and cause their gods to be forgotten. Knowing that everything happens for a reason, Umina comes to believe that her destiny is to somehow prevent The Prophecy from occurring.
Father Ciguena is a Spanish priest who has broken eight of the Ten Commandments. Fearful of condemnation to everlasting hell, he confesses his sins and is forced to travel to the New World where, as his penance, he is to convert the "soulless heathens" and build a church. Among the other Spaniards on the ship bound for Peru is Rodrigo de Cotero, a peace-loving atheist who finds himself surrounded by brutes looking forward to killing their first "savage."
When the three meet in the land of the Incas, the clash of cultures and faiths results in a stunning conversion for one of them.
Gayle Marie was just a kid in the sixties when she begged her mother to buy Shredded Wheat so she could read about the Wonders of the World on the back of the box. Never once did she dream that she would one day see a “Wonder” with her own eyes, let alone write a novel about one.
Always a romantic in search of a life worth writing about, Gayle has led a peripatetic existence, leaving her hometown of Boise, Idaho, and moving to Arizona where she became fascinated by The Hopi Way. From there, she lived for a time in other culturally diverse areas: rural Mississippi; New Orleans; Whitefish, Montana; and Ojai, California. But always, the mountains called, and she returned to the northwest, eventually settling in the ski town of Jackson, Wyoming.
Her first career was as an astrologer, and that same curiosity about what makes people “tick” ultimately led to a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Now retired, she enjoys using her obsessive research methods, her insight into human nature, and her love of magical elements in everyday life, to tell her stories.
With the launch of The Serpent, The Puma, and The Condor: A Tale of Machu Picchu, Gayle looks forward to completing her second novel, The Muse of Albi, a time-travel story that takes place in New Orleans and France.