Amber Foxx, author of the award-winning Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series, has worked professionally in theater, dance, fitness, yoga, and academia. She has lived in both the Southeast and the Southwest and calls New Mexico home. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
Chloride, New Mexico
The Perfect Setting for a Mystery
My first trip to the ghost town of Chloride, New Mexico made me think: I have to set a book here. I had nothing in mind yet other than the setting, and what a setting! A late nineteenth century silver mining boom town, with nothing left but a few streets, some well-preserved buildings, and two graveyards. My books are psychic mysteries without murder, so there was a lot of potential in the place.
Chloride was founded because of Harry Pye, the first to discover silver in the canyon. The area went from wild open space, Apache land, to a town of three thousand in a few short years, with a bank, an armory, a Chinese laundry, saloons, and brothels—and no church. Pye didn’t live to enjoy it. While out prospecting a few months after staking his silver claim in 1879, he was killed by Apaches who fought against this encroachment on their land. Chloride thrived for only about twenty years, declining as rapidly as the price of silver did by the end of the nineteenth century.
The general store still stands, as do many of the old stone and adobe buildings on the main street. There’s an abandoned mine in the canyon at the far end of the town beyond one of the graveyards. The ghost town has a few residents, primarily artists and craftspeople.
How did I get my characters involved in this place? My psychic protagonist is asked to participate in a ghost hunt. I don’t write historical novels, but one of my secondary characters does. Another secondary character, a country singer, is a history buff. He buys an old house in Chloride as a refuge from celebrity and brings my protagonist’s boyfriend, a singer-songwriter, to Chloride for a creative retreat—a much needed fresh start for them both.
An antagonist character I’d had lurking in the back of my mind for years fit well into the setting as another person seeking a creative retreat, and she was the perfect foil for my main characters. Inspired by some astounding art quilts in the gallery housed in a former saloon, I added a mysterious quilter as a Chloride resident.
Places like Chloride in its heyday attracted men and women who wanted to disappear from their old lives and start anew, and that evolved as an important undercurrent in the story.
My second trip to Chloride was a research trip. The gentleman who helped rescue Chloride and turn parts of it into a museum gave me an in-depth tour. Details he told me helped build the plot, including the lack of cell phone service in town and for ten miles outside of town. There’s nothing like getting in trouble in the middle of nowhere when you can’t call for help.
A Mae Martin Psychic Mystery, Book 8
Could a faked haunting in a ghost town stir up a real one?
Mae Martin’s college summer session is off to a rough start. A classmate is out to make her life miserable. Her English professor is avoiding her. And the Paranormal Activities Club plans to investigate her psychic abilities. Her boyfriend, Jamie, is on a song-writing retreat in the ghost town of Chloride, New Mexico, population fourteen humans, twenty-three cats, and—supposedly—zero ghosts. He’s working with a famous friend who doesn’t want Mae, or anyone, to visit. But then Jamie’s neighbor claims her house is haunted, and Mae has to learn who’s behind the frightening events—the living, or the dead.