Saturday, January 11, 2014

Living on the Edge

by Shannon Baker

Several years ago I found myself in exile in Flagstaff, AZ. This town is the Edge of the Rez, as they say. It sits in northern Arizona, next to the massive Navajo reservation and in the middle of the area inhabited for centuries by several tribes. I became fascinated with local tribes and their struggles. 

Around this time, I accidentally found a job as an accountant at The Grand Canyon Trust, an environmental non-profit. I don’t know what was more foreign to my raising, environmentalists or Native Americans.

I started to research the Hopi tribe of Northern Arizona. This tiny tribe believes they are responsible for the balance of the whole world. Given all the mystical details and weird stuff I read about, I’m not going to doubt that. But here’s the kicker on the Hopi: they are extremely secretive. A person can find out quite a bit about their history in books or speaking to tribal members but there’s a vast culture they keep private.

They have an elaborate religious ceremonial life and much of that takes place inside kivas, away from prying eyes. I’m okay with that. It is this strict adherence to the ceremonies that keeps the planet from spinning out of control. However, as the young people fall away from the old ways, the ceremonies and clans become weaker. It’s a problem.

Did you know that if you draw a straight line from the Hopi rez through the center of the Earth, it comes out in Tibet? And did you know the Tibetan word for moon is the Hopi word for sun and the Hopi word for moon is the Tibetan word for sun? Got goosebumps? I do.

When something roots this deeply into my brain, the only thing to do is write about it. So Nora Abbott was born. In Tainted Mountain, Nora must battle environmentalists, energy moguls, and Hopi kachinas to save her ski resort. 

In Broken Trust, coming out in March 2014, Nora has moved to Boulder, Colorado to try to put her life back together. Coincidentally, I moved to Boulder about the same time. She takes a job as an accountant at an environmental non-profit. (Hmm, sound familiar). 

But the environmental trust is rife with deceit and corruption. Nearly half a million dollars is missing and one person has already been killed for knowing too much. Complicating matters are Nora's uninvited visitors: her mother, Cole Huntsman, and a Hopi China that technically doesn't even exist. As the body count climbs, Nora races to stop a deadly plot to decimate one of the planet's greatest natural resources.

Shannon Baker writes the Nora Abbott Mystery Series, a fast-paced mix of murder, environmental issues and Hopi Indians published by Midnight Ink. Tainted Mountain, the first in the series is set in Flagstaff, AZ and is a New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards finalist. Broken Trust, due March 2014, takes place in Boulder, CO. A lover of western landscapes, Baker can often be found backpacking, skiing, kayaking, cycling, or just playing lizard in the desert.  She is on the board of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and a member of SinC and MWA. Visit Shannon at


Jean Henry Mead said...

Welcome to Mysterious Writers, Shannon. It's great to have you guest blog here this week.

Shannon Baker said...

Thanks for hosting me, Jean!