In today's day and age, the sad fact of the matter is that cultural appropriation is a serious problem. Cultures from around the world are taken and shown off, often in forms that greatly exaggerate or simply misrepresent various aspects of their society. Some consider this type of behavior offensive, others simply consider it in poor taste, still others see no problems with it whatsoever. Regardless of personal views on such a topic, the result of such behavior is often, if nothing else, the dilution of an individual culture and the propagation of false truths about such a society.
With all that said, it may seem as a surprise that I still seek to base my novels on the Mayan culture. After all, I'm as white as a cracker, and hold no particular lineage that draws back to the Mayan society (though I visited Mexico once on a mission trip! That gives me a claim to it, right?!). That said, I hold a deep respect for the Mayans of old. Though they remain one of the most mysterious cultures in the world, they are unequivocally one of the most fascinating. Their contributions to mathematics, the extraordinary reach that their culture had even so long ago is, quite frankly, astounding.
As such, I base my novels on the Mayan Empire not out of a desire to profit from it, but from an admiration of said culture. I intentionally leave much of the early history of the Stonewielders vague, because I don't want to misrepresent the Mayan Empire as it once was.
Upon deciding to write this novel, I visited anthropologists at both Kansas State University and the University of Kansas. While that certainly doesn't make me an expert in any sense of the word, I did my best to sculpt the Stonewielder society as a reflection of the ancient Mayan Empire. A theory, supposing that the Mayan Empire might have survived into modern times. The architecture of the Stonewielder cities is modeled after the ancient Mayans, both in the more obvious details (pyramids, glyphs), but also in the more subtle. The government of the Stonewielders is similarly modeled after the Mayans (independent city-states instead of a single, unified nation). While the gods of the Maya don't make any appearances, many of the monsters, Stonewielder constructs, and various factions are based off the Mayan deities.
I write this in the hopes that more people come to appreciate the Mayan Empire in the same way that I do. The culture is fascinating, completely alien to the European societal constructs that form most of what we know. And, truly, it deserves a better representation than simply being relegated to the Apocalypse and crystal skulls.