Doonan has spent summers digging in Peru and lecturing on diverse topics around the world. After starting a family and subsequently putting archaeological fieldwork on pause, Doonan published three novels in between raising his two young sons and teaching full time at City College. His third novel, “American Caliphate,” was released April 10 this year.
“American Caliphate,” which centers around two archaeologists searching the ruins of Peru’s pyramids for a long lost document that would stun the Islamic world, was an idea he had while doing fieldwork in the Peru.
“It never rains there so it’s really arid… so we would find these 16 century documents and could kind of tell what it was like there for those priests that were first working there in the 1580s,” Doonan says.
“So I used that as a kind of a jump off point to start it,” he continues.
Weaving his work and his passion for writing together has proved to be a successful formula for him.
Doonan’s two previous novels, “Grave Passage” and “Mediterranean Grave,” are a part of a series about a detective named Henry Grave who solves crimes aboard cruise ships. These novels were also drawn from real life experiences he had while working numerous summers lecturing on cruise ships.
“If you’re in the middle of the ocean there’s really no jurisdiction,” Doonan says. “Imagine if you’re on a ship and someone gets murdered, who gets to investigate?”
Doonan says that American Caliphate has been described as The Da Vinci Code meets Indiana Jones, two hugely successful movie franchises, with the former being a bestselling novel. Doonan laughs when asked about the prospect of his novels gaining such popularity.
“I just need Obama to carry it around with him for a week,” Doonan says wryly.
Although Hollywood hasn’t come calling yet, Doonan halfheartedly has his fingers crossed. Although Doonan has published three novels he still plans on continuing teaching. His writing is much more than a hobby, but for now writing isn’t his first priority.
“I think writing [novels full-time] would make me nervous,” says Doonan. “Right now I don’t have to worry about it… I have fun with it. I don’t have to worry about making smart business decisions, because it’s not my real business.”
Doonan is currently finishing the third installment in his series of Grave mysteries.
Follow Doonan’s ongoing serial novel, The Mummies of Blogspace 9 online at http://williamdoonan.wordpress.com/the-mummies-of-blogspace9/