Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Alex MonkThe Giants of Machu PicchuStuart WhiteMGHistorical Fantasy53000

The Giants of Machu Picchu is a middle grade historical fantasy, complete at 53,000 words. It is set in the 15th Century Inca Empire and based on South American mythology. 

Orqo is one of the giants forced to build Machu Picchu for the Inca Emperor. When he angers the Emperor’s son, Orqo is sent to Cusco as punishment. His task – transporting an Inca princess on a sightseeing tour – provides an unexpected opportunity. He decides to kidnap the princess and use her to win the giants’ freedom.

Princess Izi, raised as a gift to the sun god, believes giants have no feelings. When Orqo’s father orders him to return the princess, Izi persuades Orqo to escape with her. On the run together, Izi overcomes her prejudices and the pair form an unlikely friendship. 

After university, I spent eight months travelling in South America. Visiting Machu Picchu was one of the highlights of my trip. Initially I found it difficult to comprehend how any human could have built the magnificent Inca structures. Only when I studied South American mythology did I realise there could be an alternative explanation – giants.

I was a solicitor for eight years before changing careers to become a primary school teacher. I continued to have adventures in South America – learning tango in Argentina and capoeira in Brazil. Now as the parent of two pre-schoolers (and their menagerie of invisible friends), our best adventures are often in our imaginations.

The Giants of Machu Picchu was shortlisted for the Write Mentor Children’s Novel Award and placed sixth (and judge’s favourite) in the Ink and Insights Competition. 

Yours faithfully,
Alex Monk 


Inca Empire 1455
Chapter 1 – Talking treason

It started with a low rumble. As if the mountain had eaten too many potatoes and its belly was growling in protest. The air seemed different, heavier. Orqo laid down his tools and glanced around the plaza, wondering if anyone else had noticed. The other giants were still working on the Sun Temple, chipping away at huge blocks of granite with hammer stones and bronze chisels, forming the rocks into a towering wall. 

A human soldier stood close by, armed with a truncheon and bronze spear. He was there to keep the giants in line. Not that he needed to do much. Giants might be more than twice the size of humans, but Orqo’s workmates wouldn’t dream of complaining. Right now, the soldier was yawning and scratching his bottom. He couldn’t have noticed the rumble. Only a llama seemed to be troubled. The animal had wandered away from its herd and stood in the centre of the plaza, long neck rigid, eyes open wide.

‘Here Orqo.’ A clay water bottle whizzed towards his head. Orqo stretched out his arm and caught it with ease. His sister, Apichu, clutched another three bottles. She smiled at him. ‘Good catch!’ 

‘Api – you almost knocked my head off!’ Orqo said. ‘Did you hear that noise?’

‘Nope.’ Apichu was already walking away. ‘Better get back to work.’ 

‘Don’t lift anything too heavy,’ Orqo called after her. He couldn’t see her face, but he imagined Api was rolling her eyes. Overprotective. That’s what she called him. Good sense, more like. His sister was only ten, four years younger than him. If Orqo had his way, she wouldn’t even be working yet. 

There it was again. The noise was louder this time, a firm complaint from the bowels of the earth.

Orqo raked his fingers through his hair. All the giants, male and female, had the same bowl-shaped haircut, but Orqo’s thick black hair never laid flat. It stuck out in wild angles as if he’d been struck by lightning. 

He called to his friend. ‘Pidru, did you hear that?’

Pidru had been slotting a huge stone into the temple wall. He rested it on his thigh and turned to Orqo. ‘Huh?’ 

‘The rumble,’ Orqo said. ‘I thought you’d have heard with those ears. Filled with wax, are they?’

‘Big ears, big muscles, big energy,’ Pidru grinned. ‘What rumble? Was it thunder?’ 

Orqo shook his head. The skies were blue; the only clouds were pale wisps. ‘Last time there was a noise like that was just before the—’ 

The ground gave a huge jolt. 

‘Earthquake,’ Orqo gasped, clutching the half-finished temple wall as the ground shook.