I've got a good imagination, but sometimes you just have to be there. Getting a setting for a book right is tricky and I did my best when I wrote my Apache Protectors series, set in a fictitious Apache Indian reservation in Central Arizona.
Now, as I begin writing another four book series, Apache Protector: Tribal Thunder I have a big advantage. This February I visited some of the places where I am setting my four book mini-series.
Landscape and history intertwine in a place. What was lays the foundation for what is, so today I'm sharing how topography, climate and history blend in border towns and what I discovered about Money, Sex and Death on this road-trip in South Arizona.
|Lavender Pit Copper Mine|
MONEY - In the 1880s, men poured south to Tombstone, AZ to find gold but few did. Instead they discovered a copper vein and a new boomtown appeared. Bisbee was anchored by The Copper Queen Mine but when the mine played out, the population dwindled until entrepreneur Harrison M. Lavender found a way to make the remaining low grade copper ore into a profitably mine.
The Lavender pit was closed in the 1970s but they left the hole. Bisbee is now a resort town at high enough elevations to be 10 to 20 degrees cooler than the cities in the desert. They also have a world famous valuable turquoise found only here. It's called Bisbee Blue and it is worth serious money.
|The Copper Queen Hotel|
SEX - The Copper Queen Hotel, in Bisbee, AZ has the requisite painting of a naked lady over the bar. When the mine was in operation, the miners worked three shifts over 24 hours so someone was always come in or out of the hotel. One miner might be eating breakfast as another relaxed with a cold brew. And speaking of the off hours, the Copper Queen has a nameplate on several doors marking famous and notable former guests like Teddy Roosevelt and John Wayne.
|The Julia Lowell Room|
One reads, Julia Lowell. She is believed to be a prostitute who worked from the hotel and, after the end of a love-affair she took her own life in the hotel. She is said remain in residence at the hotel with two other ghosts. The rooms adjoining ours bore a nameplate reading: Julia Lowell and this attracted many visitors.
We stayed in this establishment not realizing before-hand how many people stay this period hotel in hopes of experiencing a ghosts encounter. They went whispering past our door and paused to study Ms. Lowell's door marker throughout the evening. My husband entertained himself by waiting until other guest were right outside our door and looking at the nameplate. Then, while watching through the peephole, he would violently rattle the door handle and giggle as the ghost hunters fled.
DEATH - Just a little north of Bisbee is the town that bills itself as 'too tough to die'. Do you know it? Tombstone Arizona is said to have gotten its name from the prospector who, when he reported his intended destination, was told that if he went into that parched area of the world that all he would find was his tombstone. But he did find gold and lots of people followed him and lots of those people did find their tombstones as evidence by the grave markers in boot hill which is currently maintained by the US Parks Department. The climate is so tough on the wooden headstones that they must be replaced ever seven years. But the bodies beneath the stone piles remain. I have to agree that the survival rate in 1880s was pretty abysmal when you could die from anything from buying a horse to cutting firewood. Grave markers sometimes show the cause of death including the following: Killed by Indians, Killed by Apache, Hanged, Smallpox, Murdered and Shot by... and so on.
One very famous grave marker reads: Here Lies Lester Moore. Four Shots From A 44. No Les. No More. The long marker reads: Here Lies George Johnson. Hanged by Mistake 1882. He was right. We were wrong. But we strung him up and now he's gone. Poor George purchased a stolen horse and rode it into town where he was arrested, tried and hanged for horse theft. The mistake was later discovered but, sadly, not rectified.
My first story in my new mini-series, Apache Protectors: Tribal Law will open in an area modeled after the towns of Bisbee, Gleeson and Tombstone. I hope you will look for this new series next year. My next release, Tribal Thunder, hits shelves on April 19.
Clay Cosen wants nothing more than to put his dark past behind him, but his work impounding free-roaming cattle is creating new enemies. Rancher Isabel Nosie has her own reasons to mistrust him. She loved him once, and she's never forgiven him for her fiancé's death—a death she thinks Clay could have prevented. When someone starts killing her cattle, though, she has no choice but to turn to the best tracker on the reservation.
Soon, Izzie herself is in danger, and Clay's attempts to protect her and clear her name make him a target—and a suspect. Clay risks losing everything: the respect of his family and his tribe, and the woman he's never stopped loving.
For more details about Jenna Kernan's stories, visit her EXTRAS page, subscribe to her newsletter on her website, visit her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter.
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