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  • Writer's pictureLee Murray

Blood of the Sun: The Importance of Setting

Several readers have asked if BLOOD OF THE SUN, released 4 November from Raw Dog Screaming Press, could have been set in any country other than New Zealand. I attempt to answer the question here.

The Path of Ra’s supernatural elements are firmly rooted in New Zealand’s beautifully evocative Māori mythology and legend, albeit with our own spin, and that alone meant the series needed a New Zealand setting. But there are other New Zealand cities, so why not choose one of them? Why Auckland? For this distinctly urban crime noir, we agreed from the outset that Auckland, our largest metropolis, with its sprawling population and dystopian city skyline would be the perfect backdrop for our near-future series, although neither Dan nor I have ever lied there ourselves (of course, we have both visited many times). Add to that, the fact that that Auckland sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, and are no less that fifty volcanoes within the city borders, including Rangitoto Island, which you can see splayed in the distance in one of my photographs. And then there was Mount Eden, or, in Māori, Maungawhau, the gorgeous volcano where the story’s climax takes place, the mountain ancestor who seemed to be calling us to feature him in this book.

“…Mount Māngere pokes its grassy knobbed shoulders above the modest suburban streets. Penny knows the domain well, occasionally walking the track to the top, sometimes bringing Cerberus for a romp on the terraces. There’s plenty for him to explore: the double-cratered hillock is humped and hollowed, scattered with lava bombs thrown out during the mountain’s last epic eruption 70,000 years ago. Still evidence of the original pa site, too. Penny can only imagine what it must have been like to live up there in those days. Like living alongside the gods. The views will have changed over time—from lush bushlands to today’s vibrant cityscape—but breath-taking, nonetheless. You can see forever up there: across the city to Rangitoto Island in one direction, and over Puketutu Island to the Manukau Heads on the other. It’s a special place, the kind where you can reach out and touch the heavens with your fingertips...”

Not wanting to give out any spoilers for BLOOD OF THE SUN but I should note that the crater in the mountain is called Te Ipu-a-Matāho (the bowl of Matāho); Matāho was a god who lived in the gouged out hollow, the guardian of the secrets hidden beneath the earth…

So, the short answer is, no, I don’t believe Dan and I could have set BLOOD OF THE SUN anywhere else, and nor would the plot events have evolved in the same way had we set it in a different country. Of course, you'll have to ask Dan Rabarts for his perspective.

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