Monday, March 9, 2015

Get Lost in Shannon Baker's Tattered Legacy

Get Lost in a Story Fans of Mystery, you're in for a treat.  Today's Guest is the award winning Shannon Baker. 

About Tattered Legacy

Protecting the wilderness can be deadly. Nora Abbott risks her career at Loving Earth Trust on a film project to influence Congress to expand the boundaries of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. But someone is desperate to keep the secrets of the land hidden. When her best friend, the director of the film, is found dead, Nora is convinced it wasn’t an accident. Nora’s Hopi kachina messenger has vanished and now it looks as though Cole Huntsman, the man she’s finally allowed herself to love, has left her, too.  

As Nora uncovers an unlikely intersection of ancient Hopi legends, a secret polygamist sect and one of the world’s richest men, she draws deeper into danger. Her mother’s surprising past holds the key to the clash of cultures but will Nora put all the pieces together in time to prevent disaster? Set in the iconic red rocks of Moab, UT, Nora races to discover what really lies beyond the stars.


Shannon Baker

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers 2014 Writer of the Year

Broken Trust (Midnight Ink March 2014)

Tainted Mountain (Midnight Ink March 2013)

Finalist 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards


DONNELL:  Welcome Shannon, I have to say that is one beautiful cover. Being from New Mexico, I have to say I love your topic.  What made you choose the Indian culture to write about?

SHANNON: When I moved to Flagstaff there was this huge controversy about pumping treated wastewater on the mountain to make snow. Snowbowl is one of the county’s oldest ski areas but it happens to sit on land sacred to 12 different tribes. So I wrote what I thought was a stand-alone thriller and while researching it, I stumbled across the Hopi tribe. They fascinated me. One of the smallest and poorest tribes, they have a rich ancient culture and they believe they’re responsible for the balance of the whole world. I couldn’t help but write about them. Sad for me, they are extremely secretive. When my publisher offered to make the book the first in a series, I jumped at the opportunity. There are so many aspects of the Hopi culture I could write a thousand books and never get it all out there. In Tattered Legacy,  we get just a glimpse of their relationship with the Sky People.

DONNELL:  The state of Utah is one of the prettiest places on earth in my opinion.  So choose.  Colorado, New Mexico, or Utah, or someplace else?

SHANNON: Boulder, Colorado is my heart home. The first time we moved there I was in 6th grade and we lived in a rental house with a perfect view of Devil’s Thumb. My family was not at all into the outdoors and the crazy culture of Boulder in the early 70’s startled them. We only lived there a year. But when I got the chance to start over after living in Nebraska, I ran back to Boulder as fast as I could. Unlike the rest of my clan, I love being outdoors and being in the mountains and the vibe of Boulder delights me. I only got to stay there 3 years before being torn away again. But then, I got to go back… for a year. My love affair with Boulder isn’t over and I wouldn’t be surprised to end up there again. For now, though, we’re getting ready to move down to Tucson and I’m feeling a strong pull to the desert.

 DONNELL:  Is mystery your chosen genre. Do you write in any other genres?

SHANNON: Confession: I was never a mystery reader. I thought I’d written a thriller until my publisher explained it was a mystery. Since Tainted Mountain was published in 2013, I’ve been playing catch-up in the mystery genre. I’ve discovered my tastes run toward the middling range, as opposed to cozies or noir, and I’ve fallen in love with books written by William Kent Krueger, Craig Johnson, Margaret Coel, and maybe even darker with Laura Lippman and Harlan Coben. Ah, so many books, so little time!

DONNELL:  I imagine you had to do a lot of research to write this book.  What is the most fascinating thing you’ve learned doing research for this book or another one?

SHANNON: The Hopi tribe is so interesting. They live in the most bleak landscape, on three isolated mesas north of Winslow, AZ. They are surrounded by the massive Navajo reservation. They’ve clung to their religion and culture, boasting the oldest continuously inhabited village in North America. They have a list of prophecies handed down for over a thousand years, which correctly predicts the onset of white settlers, railroads, telephone, and even the atomic bomb (described as an inverted gourd of ashes that will cause rivers to boil). The most fascinating thing I read about them is that if you drew a line through the earth from Tibet it would come out on the Hopi mesas. The Hopi word for moon is the Tibetan word for sun. The Tibetan word for moon is the Hopi word for sun. Goosebumps?

DONNELL:  Talk about your characters. Choose the one that in your opinion showed the most growth. How did he or she grow from the start of the book till the end?

 SHANNON: Although Nora’s quirky mother, Abigail, plays a big part in this book, the bulk of the growth is Nora’s. She’s been through some unstable times in the two previous books and she’s doing a whole lot better now. It takes some time for a woman who’s experienced what she has to get her groove back, but she’s getting there. In Tattered Legacy, Nora has to come to grips with her ancestry and whether that dictates who she is.

DONNELL:  If you’re not writing, where will we find you?

SHANNON: If I had my druthers, I’d be hiking in the Grand Canyon. Or wait, riding my bike over Vail Pass on a July morning. No, I’d be kayaking on Lake Powell. Maybe backpacking in the Rawahs. Or it would be October, when we’ve got a scuba trip planned to Bonaire. Oh hell, just anywhere outside, preferably in the sunshine.

DONNELL:  What’s the most unusual thing you have in your closet?

SHANNON: I have a 35 mm film canister of my mother’s ashes. It really freaks my sister out. My mother died several years ago in March and she was cremated. We decided to wait until June for her inurnment and my sister got all squeamish about keeping the box of ashes at her house. It didn’t bother me at all. But when it came time to plant the box, I just wasn’t quite ready. So I saved a little bit of her. I have always intended to sprinkle the ashes someplace significant but, you know, I may never feel like letting it go. (Besides, every now and then I’ll sneak behind my sister and shake it by her ear. You can’t believe how she squeals!)

DONNELL:  What authors have influenced you?

A thousand years ago, way before I started writing, I read And Ladies of the Club, by Helen Hooven Santmyer. It’s a sweeping saga and I was really sad when it ended. I’m a little unclear now what I read, but it was something like that book being the first one she published and she was 80 years-old. I do remember thinking that someday I’d like to write a book like that but if I didn’t get started learning to write then, I’d never get there. So I started with essays and short stories and finally novels. It took me an inordinate amount of time to get my first publishing contract so I’m really glad Helen got me started early.


I loved Donnell’s question about my favorite place to be. If you could live or play or hang out anywhere, where would it be? Comment for a chance to win a copy of Tattered Legacy. U.S. residents only because I’m intimidated by complicated shipping.)

Thanks Donnell for having me!

Our pleasure, Shannon. Best wishes on your launch and come back and see us!


  1. Welcome Shannon! So glad you could join us on GLIAS. Your mystery series sounds awesome. I love reading about Native American cultures. As far as where I'd go hang a time machine so could go anywhere, anytime. :)

  2. Shannon, you remind me of my sister Maria when you shake those ashes behind your sister's ear. There's always one imp in the family and it must be you! Such fun to have you on the blog! Oh, and I have to say growing up I couldn't wait to get to Durango, Navajo Dam, La Plata Mountains. They were my stomping grounds and I still love that area because it's close to my home in the 4-Corners.

  3. Thanks for letting me hang out here. I know you're a New Mexico girl, Donnell. We're fixing to move to Tucson in less than 3 months and can't wait to get to the desert!

  4. Great interview Donnell and Shannon! Good questions and interesting answers. If I could hang out anywhere (besides my beautiful New Mexico!) it would be England. I spend a week there back in the 70s, and while I got to see quite a bit, there's lots more exploring I would love. I'd love to explore the area purported to be the birthplace of King Arthur.

  5. We're doing a giveaway here of course, but you can also enter to win Tattered Legacy on Goodreads

  6. an amusement part

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  7. This comment is from Author Karalee Long who had trouble commenting.

    Great interview, Donnell. Shannon, I'll be buying this book. I'm looking forward to learning about the Hopi culture. What an interesting background for your mystery. I've lived in Boulder for almost 50 years and love it. I always wanted to ride the mules to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, but with the knees my hubby and I have, that will never happen. I would like to return to Alaska and hike back to Exit Glacier, again if the knees would allow it.

    1. I would love to call Boulder my permanent home! Thanks for stopping by, Karalee.