My sister called it a Barbie phone. It’s tiny and pink, circa 2009. I used it through 2019. I’d given no thought to the pictures on it for years, and had never downloaded them while it was my working phone, so I’m not sure why I finally did—but I’m glad I did. On it, I found pictures of Truth or Consequences and Santa Fe in the years during which my books are set. The work in progress, book nine, takes place in 2013.
When I took these photos, I was collecting material for my books. I chose the settings through Mae Martin’s eyes, her delight and awe in discovering New Mexico, and the feeling of deep change and emergence that her new home gives her.
In Shaman’s Blues, Mae is often struck by the intensity of the light in Santa Fe. Encounters with outdoor art trigger key moments for her, for Jamie, and for the boy Jamie tried to help.
The nearly-dry Santa Fe River plays an important role, as does the image of the Lady of Guadalupe. I took a picture of this blue door in Santa Fe one year, and the next year the Lady had been painted on it.
As I look at the colors in my old pictures, the book’s title echoes them. Blues.
I’ve also photographed settings that had meaning to other characters or played roles in later books, and will share some in future posts.