Character Interviews

Character Interviews

For those of you who read the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series, you’re familiar with the adobe style magazine office of High Desert Country where she works. It’s located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Recently, Julian Brazos, the magazine’s founder and publisher added a second story. It’s the rooftop meeting place where we find Collins and her characters. The sunset is washing the Sangre de Cristos red. The margaritas are made. The bowls of salsa and tortilla chips are placed around the table. We should start before the sipping commences.

Watermark Rainbow Man

Publisher of High Desert Country, Julian Brazos will conduct the interview.

Julian: For readers who haven’t yet met the irreverent reporter Rachel Blackstone, this will get you up to speed. Rachel used a Native American ceremony to return the dead. She was hoping to have one more conversation with her father who died mysteriously. Instead, another spirit returned and it was up to no good. Something about the experience opened her intuitively. Yes, Rachel began talking with ghosts, including a white wolf. Since then, it has been one paranormal experience after another. Fortunately, she’s still making deadlines.

Today I’ll be interviewing:

G G Collins: Writer of the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series; journalist and blogger. I understand she is a fan of Supernatural, especially Dean Winchester.

Rachel Blackstone: Senior reporter for High Desert Country and newly minted psychic—but I’d advise not calling her that.

Chloe Valdez: Rachel’s long-time friend, successful real estate mogul and true believer in the metaphysical. She’s in charge of fashion for journalistic stake-outs.

Mari-Lynn Alo: Pot retailer from Colorado and crystal expert. A gypsy Bohemian with Hopi heritage. Her last name, Alo, means spiritual guide.

Alien: Yes, from another planet. You’ll have to decide if you believe. No, he doesn’t have a name.

Julian: First question: GG, what made you write Atomic Medium?

GG: As you know The Manhattan Project office was here in Santa Fe and housed at 109 East Palace, just steps from our famous Santa Fe Plaza. It’s the same building where you now find the Shop of the Rainbow Man. It’s sometimes referred to as the building that changed the world. With this in mind and the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bomb in July 2015, I wanted to write a story including both of these elements.

Of course, I had to add a paranormal twist and that’s where the portal to another time comes in. Rachel Blackstone, my protagonist, is a little bit psychic, albeit reluctantly. She’s in the shop when two men cross the time threshold that has formed in the shop. Rachel is the only witness. The men are enraged and threaten her.

Julian: Rachel, this is your third outing as a, shall we say intuitive, how are you adapting to this new found ability?

First, thanks Jules, for not calling me a psychic. As you know I’d rather spend all my time interviewing and writing, but GG won’t give me a break. This episode was tough, because Chloe and I had to go to a place that was heavily guarded during a time when people were distrustful and frightened. We blundered a couple of times. Hanging was the penalty for treason so we wanted to avoid suspicion. But I wouldn’t give up the experience for anything. It was life-changing.

Chloe: Yeah, Rachel’s right, but as usual she left out the clothing we bought to help us blend in—so we could avoid suspicion. You wouldn’t believe what I paid for those clothes! Almost nothing. Of course, it would have been convenient if Rachel could drive a stick shift. We almost missed our rendezvous in the Atomic City. We had a date with two mad men.

Alien: Who are you calling mad? Why is the so-called space alien always the bad guy to Earthlings? We need to organize. We have rights.

Chloe: Hey, ET wasn’t bad.

Alien: I was not even given a name. (Ignoring Chloe’s comment.)  Did I not deserve a name? The other “mad” guy had a name.

Rachel: Would you two stop. You’re driving me crazy.

Alien: Clearly, that ship has already sailed. (Rachel frowns.)

Watermark Rainbow Man Courtyard

Julian: Okay folks, back on subject. This journey must have been interesting. (He leans back in his chair tenting his fingers.) Tell me how.

Mari-Lynn: What journey? I only got to go to Colorado Springs. From Pueblo, that’s about a 45-minute drive. I provide the protective crystals for Rachel and Chloe so they can travel great distances. Then I stay at home, have terrifying dreams, but can’t do a thing about them. I need to meditate.

Alien: At least you have a name. (He folded his Brooks Brothers clad arms over his chest. His grey hands had only four digits.)

GG: Would you knock it off with the name thing. If I’d given you a name, you wouldn’t have liked it. Why can’t you just enjoy being a good villain? I mean, you’re evil and you were good at being evil. (The Alien smiles ever so slightly.)

Julian: Chloe as Rachel’s best friend, how do you like the way your character is evolving?

Chloe: Well, that doomsday prepper thing kind of surprised me, but I was thrilled to go along with Rachel this time, except for a few horrifying minutes. Since she steadfastly refuses to carry a cell phone—her and one old guy in a mountain shack—it’s essential that I have one of mine at all times. Yes, I have four cell phones. Does anyone want to make something of that?

All: Noooooo.

Julian: Mari-Lynn, you mentioned the crystals you provide. How do you know which ones to use?

Mari-Lynn: Ever since I met Chloe and touched her hand, I have had visions which give me clues as to what she and Rachel will encounter. Sometimes there are visitations from people on the other side where she is needed. After years of experience and study, I choose the most beneficial stones for her to keep her safe.

Alien: Even I know how you make your real money! She sells marijuana.

Mari-Lynn: It’s legal in Colorado now. Don’t you know anything? (She glares at the Alien.)

Julian: GG, before things go south, why should people read Atomic Medium?

GG: Why for the shower scene alone. Rachel does a nudie while she tangles with technology.

Rachel: Only my cat saw me! Thank gawd. It was humiliating.

Julian: Anything else GG?

GG: While it’s an entertaining story with action, adventure and some humor thrown in, it’s also respectful of the men and women who worked under extreme conditions during a terrifying time. And they came through, using slide rules and blackboards! There were no wireless connections or tablets—other than the kind you write on. At the time, computers were people who made computations.

The service men and women at the Atomic City couldn’t tell their families where they were. Nor were they told where they were going by the government—only that they had overseas orders. They were quite surprised when they disembarked the train in the middle of the New Mexico desert. No palm trees or beaches.

I researched right down to how the building interiors looked in Los Alamos during the mid-1940s in an effort to bring authenticity to a paranormal story. The accounts of the bomb blast were riveting. My characters experience the heat and wind much as those who witnessed what happened when the first atom was split.

Rachel continues to grow as a medium—as much as she doesn’t want to. She is more accepting even though she’d still rather not do this. And as a journalist, her need to know and understand won’t let her walk away; even as her need to fact-check keeps her skeptical. Although her personality sometimes hides it, she really cares and is moved by what she learns.

I’m writing pieces for my blog (reluctantmediumatlarge) that detail some of the behind the scenes during The Manhattan Project. I’ve also added a bibliography at the end of Atomic Medium for those who want to know more. This all happened before my time, but I found it fascinating. These were people who stepped up during a time of intense fear and horror. They had the right stuff.

Watermark Manhattan Project Plaque

There is a plaque at Rainbow Man dedicated to those who developed the bomb, but it there is no sign to mark it as a historical place. You have to ask where the plaque is. Pssst, go to the back of Rainbow Man’s lovely courtyard. It’s on the wall under the porch.

Julian: Okay everyone; drink up before the fighting starts.

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As told to author G G Collins

G G Collins

1.Returning the dead? Really, what were you thinking?  “I admit that my judgment was impaired on that occasion. My father died in a car accident a few months earlier, but I thought there was more to it. The Santa Fe PD couldn’t find proof. Then I remember the Hopi ceremony to return the dead. A kindly shaman, Joseph, told me about the ritual in an interview about his people. Things went badly, even though I followed the steps carefully. Maybe it was because I have only a small amount of Native American heritage in my family. You know, kind of a built-in fail-safe for people who have no business performing it. At any rate, my father didn’t come back, but someone did, and he was evil.”

la-fonda-lobby-famous-infamous-have-walked-these-tiles

The lobby of La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe.

The famous and the infamous have walked these Saltillo tiles. Rachel & Chloe try to have quiet meetings here. Copyright G G Collins

2.Why did you become a reporter? “My father was an award-winning journalist for theAlbuquerque Journal. He died working on a story. It turned out my father’s story was related to the evil spirit. I guess reporting is in the family blood, although my brother, the mayor of Santa Fe, must have had a transfusion.”

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The Shed restaurant bar, where Rachel & Chloe do their best plotting and drinking.Copyright G G Collins

3.You and your friend, Chloe, seem like opposites. How does your friendship work?  “Well you got me! She likes boots with high heels and I always wear shoes I can run in. Never know when you might need to make a quick exit. Chloe drinks the most gawd-awful herbal teas and vegetarian meals. I love green-chile-cheese-burritos. (This is New Mexico, green chile is king!) Chloe sells real estate. She’s a multi-million-dollar agent. She co-owns the hottest agency in town. Me, I make terrible money, but even she admits my job is more fun. Chloe’s always ready for a journalistic stakeout. And no matter what you’ve heard, we don’t smoke all that much pot. So are we yin and yang? I think we’re more about tolerance and knowing when not to go there. Somehow we manage to work in quite a lot of fun.”

palace-of-the-governers-rachel-learns-about-astral-travel

The Palace of the Governors.

Rachel meets a man here who tells her about astral travel in Lemurian Medium. Copyright G G Collins

4.What’s this about you having a spirit animal? “With the botched ceremony, a sea change occurred. I was chasing an evil presence. Next thing I know, other apparitions appeared. They included a wolf. At first, I thought it was a living wolf (And well, I support the New Mexico Lobos!), but this was something different. It was white and sometimes it glowed. I was afraid at first, but it always seemed to appear when I needed a heads-up. Native Americans believe that animals are endowed with powers. The wolf is considered a pathfinder and is represented by Sirius, the Dog Star, home to ancient teachers. The wolf finally got a name inLemurian Medium.

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St. Francis Cathedral.

Rachel finds the first clue here in the disappearance of her brother, Santa Fe’s mayor, inReluctant Medium. Copyright G G Collins

5.Why are you a reluctant medium? “Oh good heavens, that’s been blown all out of proportion. Have you been talking to Chloe? She buys into all things New Age. You see a couple ghosts, and people start calling you a medium. There were some odors I picked up on. That depraved spirit had all kinds of disgusting smells. But I’m a journalist, and we are a fact-based crowd. Just because things happen we don’t understand, doesn’t mean there isn’t an explanation. Unfortunately, I haven’t found it yet, so I’m proceeding with caution and a healthy dose of skepticism.”

jackalope-treasure-hunt-stop-in-search-of-rachels-brother

Jackalope.

The mercado has a prairie dog farm where Rachel finds another clue in the “treasure hunt” to find her brother. Copyright G G Collins

6.What’s the secret to mixing humor with horror? “You’ve heard of black comedy? That’s not quite me, but in real life we all have events that trigger fear, despair and shock. Sometimes in a horrific moment, even if it’s wildly inappropriate, a little humor can sneak in and lighten up a bad situation. But mostly, I’m unconventional and so things that are sacrosanct to others, are fair game to me. Regrettably, I’ve found myself in a few hairy circumstances for which there was no other reaction than all out terror.”

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La Fonda, exterior of the Inn at the End of the Old Santa Fe Trail. Copyright G G Collins

7.Tell us about Lemurian Medium. What’s this about a dragon? “First, a friend Stella Dallas—yes, her mother liked actress Barbara Stanwyck—disappeared into a painting at a stylish Santa Fe gallery opening. Next thing I knew, I had to go rescue her via the astral plane. (No, I’m not kidding. G G stays up nights coming up with the strangest ideas possible. But she only has to write them, I have to do all this mind-boggling stuff.) No rest for weary me. There are no maps of the astral plane, it’s all hunt and peck. I didn’t know how to tell who was wearing the white hats. And yes, the rescue plan included a dragon! I’m still sore from that wild ride (Or maybe it was the tree climbing?). One mistake and I could have been forever lost in the cosmos.”

New Mexico Tent Rocks Wikimedia Commons

Tent Rocks, New Mexico.

The location of the climatic scene as Rachel faces off with the evil spirit in Reluctant Medium. Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons.

8.What is your author cooking up for your next adventure?Atomic Medium (Pub date: January 2015, Amazon), is a mix of space aliens and Nazis. I will be traveling to 1945 during The Manhattan Project. This time, Chloe is goes with me. I can just see her now; sans smart phone (She carries four phones!). Evil has once again slipped into Santa Fe using a time warp in the building where The Manhattan Project office was located. Two men are using the portal to give the Nazis one last chance of gaining the upper hand during WWII. Only one person has witnessed the entry of these dangerous men through the doorway to the past. Yup, that’s me. If we can’t stop them, history could be forever changed. It’s no small chore: just save the world.

“Did you say there were scones?”

Find out more about G G Collins HERE.and find her now on TWITTER.

Author of Reluctant Medium & Lemurian Medium, the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series

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