After moving to the high desert city of Albuquerque, I learned that writers who live here tend to set their novels here. It's easy to see why. It's a beautiful area with an interesting blend of people and cultures, and the environment and residents and history all work together to make Albuquerque unique and wonderful.
Albuquerque's dominant geographical feature is the Sandia Mountains to the east of the city. Sandia is Spanish for watermelon, and when the mountains catch the last angling rays from a setting sun, they do indeed reflect the colors of a watermelon. The sky is another dominant feature. The sun shines something like 310 days a year, and the sky seems to be a deeper blue than any other place I've lived, perhaps because Albuquerque has one of the highest elevations of any major city in the United States, higher than the mile high city of Denver. Or maybe it just looks bluer in contrast to the sandstone buttes and mountains. The air is dry and often scented by sage and piñon, the land rugged and varied, a high desert city divided by the Rio Grande River.
The population is split roughly in thirds: Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo. Surrounding pueblos hold tight to their traditions and history, and they influence about every aspect of life in Albuquerque, from cuisine to the pace of life and appreciation of our natural beauty.
I'd lived here about a year when I started a new novel, Struck, and I already knew it would be set in and around Albuquerque. I just didn't know exactly which part. The city is so diverse. Then I went hiking on the western edge of the city near the Albuquerque Volcanoes, along a volcanic escarpment where hundreds of petroglyphs had been pecked into the lava rocks by the ancestors of today's Pueblo Indians. I decided that was where my novel would open, and then I let the novel lead me to nearby pueblos and to the Anasazi ruins in Chaco Canyon, near the Four Corners area.
After writing one novel set locally, a novel that required me to research the area and its history more than I have for any other novel, I love Albuquerque even more. Now Struck is published, and I'm working on my next paranormal thriller. Guess where it's set.