by Shannon Baker
One question writers often get is: How much of you is in your main character?
With me and Nora, I can answer, not much. Nora is an avid environmentalist. While I’m concerned about the environment and I recycle, watch my water usage, take care to save energy and drive a fuel efficient car, I’m hardly an activist. Inspiration for Nora came while I lived in Flagstaff and worked at an environmental non-profit, The Grand Canyon Trust.
One way Nora and I are very much alike is in our love for Boulder, Colorado. My first experience with Boulder was in 1971, when my family moved there. I was in sixth grade and fell in love with the Flatirons. Downtown Boulder was the hippy epicenter and though I was too young to participate in that scene, something about Boulder resonated with my soul. We only lived there a year and we moved on.
When I got to restart my life, I chose Boulder in 2003. This time around, I spent as much time as possible hiking and biking in the mountains and the foothills before life took me away. I landed in Flagstaff, AZ. Not a bad place and the inspiration for the Nora Abbott Mystery Series. At the end of Tainted Mountain, the first in the series, Nora feels like she needs a place to start over. And where else would she choose but my favorite place, Boulder.
I was thrilled to steep myself in setting, picture the quirky inhabitants, bask in the shadow of the Flatirons, revel in the majesty of the Rockies. And then, wonder of wonders, I got a call from a former colleague recruiting me to join a startup. Me, Nora, Flagstaff, Boulder. Art imitating life imitating art.
For a few months I didn’t have to imagine Nora’s surroundings. I biked the same roads, hiked the same trails, drank beer in the same outdoor cafes. Wait, I don’t have a scene where Nora drinks beer on the Pearl Street Mall. I probably should have.
Alas, my stay in Boulder ended too soon. As one friend put it, I’m an itinerate writer. But Nora’s Boulder story is just beginning. She’s due to hit the shelves March 8th. If you’ve ever wanted to hang out in the People’s Republic of Boulder for a bit, get your heart rate amped by murder and weapons of mass destruction, and find out how a non-profit really works, consider picking up Broken Trust.
As for me, I’m currently writing from the windswept prairie of southwestern Nebraska. I don’t envision Nora winding up here anytime soon.