The Secret to Desert Alchemy

"It all looked like a sleepy high-desert farm where nothing more sinister happened than the yearly harvest and the occasional trespassing coyote.  That was exactly what it was supposed to look like.  Devin strolled through the lengthening evening shadows of the orchard and smoked his cigarette, wondering if anyone was even bothering to spy on the place.  Humans didn’t know his kind existed, much less pixie dust.  But as Niall always said, there were probably more meth cookers than farmers in the area so it paid to keep a low profile.  There was only so much trouble Fae money and influence could smooth over. "  - Darkness of the Spirit, p. 45

You know that episode of Breaking Bad when the RV in the deserts blows up?  Jesse’s taken Walter out to see the meth lab but the chemist they’re visiting doesn’t know what he’s doing so he blows up the trailer and they barely escape with their lives.

When my devout Seventh Day Adventist in-laws decided to grow jujubes instead of retiring, they moved out to the middle of the Mojave Desert to a micro town called Lucerne Valley.  They joined a group of SDA farmers who were growing this ancient fruit as a health food both for profit but also to fulfill their Christian mission to help others.

The first time we drove out there, I saw so many burned out husks of houses and piles of rubble and wood, I thought, wow, a lot of home fires in this area.  What I found out, however, is that all those burned down houses are the charred remains of once thriving, extremely dangerous meth labs.

When I started writing my second book “Darkness of the Spirit” (available now at Amazon), I threw my main character, Fae alchemist and drug maker Devin McKaye, out in the desert of Lucerne Valley.  I thought, how perfect, a Fae pixie lab in the middle of what used to be meth lab country.  It was easy to imagine a lone, pale, young Fae hiding out in one of these washed out stucco and red-tile roofed houses doing God knows what.

Every time I visited my in-laws and walked their land, I could see Devin out there - walking through the orchard on his way to his lab to check on the latest batch of pixie, the dry, blasted landscape all around him pulling him in with its ancient, New World magic.

The meth cooks are all gone now. But it wasn't the lab explosions that took them out or a crackdown by the cops.  It was economics.  Superlabs  in Mexico took over the business.  But with Devin, I was able imagine what the area must have been like when underground chemists hid out behind innocent looking farms and orchards.  

It wasn't hard to do either.  Somedays, while sitting at my desk and watching the empty landscape through the window while I cook up nightmares and dark fantasies, I felt a lot like a desert alchemist myself.


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