L.C. Hayden is a multi-award-winning mystery author whose latest book centers around a very unique aspect of her home town. Today she joins us to talk about El Paso, its underground tunnels, and her latest thriller. Learn more about L.C. and her books at her website.
What’s in a Setting?
“Out in the West town of El Paso . . .”
Does that ring a bell?—a musical bell, that is. It should. That’s the opening line to Marty Robbins famous song. But outside of that, what do you know about El Paso? Most think of El Paso as a dusty city along the border, which is plagued with immigration problems and drugs.
Yet I chose to set my latest thriller, Secrets of the Tunnels, in El Paso. Why would I ever do that? True, it’s my hometown, and if that’s not reason enough, then it’s because the city really shines for me.
For one, it’s very historical. The Spaniards arrived in the area in 1581. Seventeen years later, Juan de Oñate claimed the land for Spain, then gave thanks and held the first Thanksgiving feast in what is now the United States.
A 42-foot-tall equestrian statue depicts Oñate and his horse. This breath-taking sculpture is one of the largest equestrian statues in the world and stands near the El Paso International Airport.
In addition, Scenic Socorro Road connects three of the oldest Spanish-era missions in the nation. The missions, Ysleta, Socorro, and San Elizario are all listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1846 the humble adobe-buildings and dirt streets marked the beginning of Ft. Bliss. Back then, mules were the norm. Now Ft. Bliss is the nation’s second-largest military reservation where the latest military technology is developed.
But El Paso isn’t just about history. This sun-kissed city displays the most breathtaking sunsets and offers some of the country’s most dramatic landscapes.
Within driving distance you’ll find White Sands National Monument, the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, Three Rivers National Petroglyph Recreation Area, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, and Roswell, with its International UFO Museum and Research Center. Beautiful Ruidoso is a favorite mountain getaway for El Paso visitors and locals.
Interested in architecture? Downtown El Paso offers the eye some candy with its elegant early 1900’s dwellings. Close by is the University of Texas at El Paso with its magnificent Bhutan style architecture.
Like to eat? You can enjoy the world-famous Southwestern cuisine El Paso has to offer. You can even do so while sipping a margarita under a spectacular sunset. Remember Rosa’s Cantina from the Robbins’ song? It’s still here.
In addition, museums, concerts, a newly built mega stadium, home of the famous El Paso Chihuahuas baseball team, movies under the stars, and much more attract people to El Paso.
El Paso is the 19th largest city in the United States and has been ranked by the CQ Press (based on FBI crime statistics) as the safest large city in our country. In addition, the city has been ranked among the top three safest cities since 1997.
But with all of these points of interest, El Paso offers one very unique item that was essential for my book: the tunnels. The tunnels, a labyrinth of underground passages, where built by the Chinese, who migrated from California and used the tunnels to enter the United States through Mexico. Later, the tunnels served as opium dens, which expanded to become houses of prostitution.
It is this intricate web of passages that play an important part in Secrets of the Tunnels. A stolen Chinese treasure, corruption, a fight for power, murder, and betrayal—all play a part in this novel set in El Paso.
Connie de la Fuente’s ex stripped her of everything she held dear—her family, her friends, her pride, and even her son. The only way to fight back is to stand up to her ex and his evil father. While the residents of El Paso hail them as heroes, Connie knows that the secret of their power and source of wealth has been founded on corruption. Connie sets a trap to expose the de la Fuente men—a trap that will lead her in a razor-edge hunt for a hidden treasure concealed deep in El Paso’s tunnels.
Secrets of the Tunnels is currently in the Kindle Scout program. You can read the first five chapters here and vote to nominate it for publication.