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.
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.)
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?
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.
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.
Links to the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series,
available on Amazon.