TAMING THE DEMON and the Real Life Intersection…

Posted by: Emily Shaw on May 8 2013, 4:00 am in , , ,


TAMING THE DEMON wasn’t actually supposed to be set in various fictional parts of Albuquerque, New Mexico, at all.  At the time I wrote the proposal, I lived in Flagstaff (which I loved), and I set the book down in the valley–hot, hot Phoenix, Arizona.  Okay, I set it during winter in Phoenix, because summer in Phoenix is so hot I don’t even want to live it vicariously while writing it.

That’s the thing about the writing.  If my characters are dealing with something in the book, in some distant way, I’m dealing with it, too.  Not in the details, but in the essence.  So if they’re in Phoenix in the summer, then I’m annoyed by the heat.  If Devin James is in a battle of wills with a demon blade, then I’m stirring up my own feelings to siphon them into the book.  I won’t say it doesn’t get intense!

But that means it goes both ways–that when things happen in real life, they can (if appropriate) have an impact on the book.  And between the time I conceived and sold this book and the time I wrote it, I moved.  Not so far as distance is measured in the Southwest, and a just couple thousand feet lower (and hotter) than I’d been in Flagstaff, which…as I said…I loved.  (Then we moved again, out through the canyon and climbing up into the Sandia foothills, but that’s another story…).

Even from one high desert home to another, only five hours away…central New Mexico had an entirely different culture, entirely different geology and anthropological and historical origins.  Still, the rich potential of exploring the area in fiction merely percolated in my hindbrain for the first months of settling in.  For one thing, never mind the chaos of the unpacking–I was in the middle of writing a different book!  But then came the day when preparing to write TAMING THE DEMON and exploring my new home overlapped.  I rode my horse out along the local acequia (the generations-old canal system running through the Rio Grande valley) and discovered, tucked away in the middle of nowhere, a rather grand old southwestern home.

This, I realized, is where Devin and Natalie will come to know each other.

And so I suddenly had new purpose to my wanderings, and to studying the area.  I found a way to honor my new home while exploring Devin and Natalie’s story, and an excuse to look at each new facet of it with an inquisitive eye.  I learned about history, the uniquely flavored city quadrants, and the wide variety of microclimates and habitats–things I might not have discovered, while in my mourning for the move away from the San Francisco Peaks that seemed so magical to me.  But talk about magical–there in the Albuquerque valley, there were sandhill cranes!  Oh my golly, they migrated right over the house!  And flock of nighthawks–the first I’ve ever seen!  The bosque area along the Rio Grande is such a unique blend of fragile desert and water habitat, I quickly grew to love it–even if it was all a little too surrounded by urbanity for my hermit’s taste.

But this area is a place that Natalie and Devin each love, in their own unique experiences of it–in their survival in it–and it turned out to be a perfect place for them to fall in love, too.  Seeing it through their eyes gave me a chance not only to understand them better, but it allowed me to appreciate the new things in my life.  What could be better than that?


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