About the Author

Melissa Ballard, nicknamed Dela after her maiden name De La Paz, had no idea that her days of changing diapers and picking up spills would coerce to feeding exotic jaguars and training with gods.

When driving home from an anniversary trip in January 2011, THE 52ND’s main characters, Zara and Lucas, appeared very vividly in her mind. The relationship between the two was so intriguing that Dela returned home and immediately began writing a scene between the two. Within a few days it was apparent these fictional characters were like another child. They needed to be tended to, and too embarrassed to continue, Dela set down her laptop and continued on with her life as a mom. Only Zara and Lucas weren’t so easily ignored, and in April Dela picked up the computer again and began writing.

Dela lives in Las Vegas with her husband, three children, and two very, fat Chihuahuas.

Now, nearly 4 years later, THE 52ND will be available for release October 27, 2014.

The 52nd

Story Behind THE 52ND

Ever since I was young I was sure about a few things:

  • I was obsessed with the magic of ancient Latin America.
  • I wanted to share that rich, vibrant Latin culture with a large crowd.
  • I didn't know how I was going to share said loves.
  • This created a problem for me.

  • When Zara & Lucas came to me that January, it was as if I already knew them. Zara was a pure, human girl and Lucas was an immortal, Aztec prince with a dark past. It was then that I knew my problem had been solved. I was to write a book.

    I started writing not really sure where the story would go. Soon after, I realized if I were to use mythical creatures and timelines and be accurate with the historical accounts, I needed to do research—A LOT of research. Plus I had my Yucateca grandmother in my ear telling me “That’s not right!” I spent all summer reading everything from the fall of the Mesoamerica empires to Cortez to friar accounts to reviewing codices such as the Popul Vuh. When I went to Cancun that summer I drove to Tulum and bought a couple of books about that particular archeological site, knowing that it was the place where the Castillos lived for a short period and the place of their transformation. But I was searching for one thing to bring together the Aztecs and Mayans because I knew that they didn’t like each other. I needed a problem that would force them to work together. Luckily my research paid off because I noticed a common denominator between the two—numbers. Yup, science. I’m dorky like that. Once I figured out it took 52 years for the religious calendar and solar calendar to reunite with the same two days together, the idea for having 52 sacrifices came to me. I loved it, and I ran with it. Cortez stirred up so much between the natives that it was easy to pull interesting historical accounts and mix them with my fictional characters.

    It’s still hard to believe I took history and created an alternate ending. If you haven’t read THE 52ND, just know that what you learned in history isn’t the truth. The truth was kept from us. There are creatures that abduct humans for the human sacrifice ritual, and no one is exempt no matter what part of the world you live in.

    To find out why, read THE 52ND today. I dare you.


    June 26 - July 1, 2014

    ALA Las Vegas

    October 27, 2014

    THE 52ND Official Release


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