Man-Made Snow is Murder

I’m pleased to have Shannon Baker here today.  She’s the author of the Nora Abbott Mystery series, fast-paced murder mysteries which center around environmental issues and the Hopi Indians.  From the Colorado Rockies to the Nebraska Sandhills, the peaks of Flagstaff and the deserts of Tucson, landscapes play an important role in her books. Shannon worked for The Grand Canyon Trust, a hotbed of environmentalists who, usually, don’t resort to murder.  

Here’s the interview I did with Shannon at Malice Domestic:

Diana Belchase:  Shannon, congratulations on being nominated for the New Mexico/Arizona Book Award for Tainted Mountain and your new book, Broken Trust!  Can you tell me how you came to write them?

Shannon Baker:  When I moved to Flagstaff in 2006, there was a huge controversy raging about man-made snow on the San Francisco Peaks. Those peaks are sacred to 12 tribes and feature in their creation stories. I started researching the Hopi and was fascinated by this tiny, ancient, mystical culture. They believe they hold responsibility for the balance of the whole world. After learning much about the tribe and its history, I’m not going to dispute that claim. How could I not write about it?

Diana: It’s an incredible theme for a series.  Your newest book takes place in Boulder.  Did you always intend it that way? unnamed-2

Shannon: I didn’t intend for this to be a series but when Midnight Ink offered me the option, I jumped at it. Because I love Boulder Colorado, and coincidentally moved back there, I decided to take Nora to Boulder. Broken Trust involves some weird science coupled with bizarre conspiracy theories. I researched Tesla technology, the HAARP facility in Alaska and scary information about using weather as a weapon of mass destruction. It was fun to mash all this up and bring in the Hopi spirituality. Poor Nora has to catch up on her science quickly if she’s going to save the day.


Diana: Your books are definitely character-driven, though.  It’s not all science. 

Shannon: I also loved bringing in the beauty and strangeness that is Boulder. I had a blast creating the characters that populate Broken Trust, as well as bringing back Nora’s mother, Abigail, and exploring their evolving relationship.

Diana: Well, here are blurbs from the two books because I know our readers will love reading them.  

And one lucky commenter, who answers the question “What elements must a mystery have to get you to start reading?” will win a copy of Shannon’s book Broken Trust!


Broken Trust:

Hoping for a new beginning, Nora Abbott takes a job at Loving Earth Trust in Boulder, Colorado. But the trust is rife with deceit and corruption and the body count is climbing. With the help of her mother and a Hopi kachina that technically doesn’t exist, Nora races to stop a deadly plot to decimate one of the planet’s greatest natural resources.


unnamed-1Tainted Mountain:

A young ski area owner in Flagstaff, AZ is determined to use man-made snow, an energy tycoon has his own reasons for promoting it, enviros and tribes may use any means to stop it. But the spirits of the mountain just might have the last say.

About Diana Belchase

I am an author, who won the Golden Heart for my suspense novel "The Spy in the Mirror" and was a Golden Heart finalist, once again, for my second novel, "The Spy in the Harem." I am also a triple Daphne Du Maurier finalist for three other books. Please follow me at my website:, or friend/follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter or on my YouTube Channel: See you there!

Posted on April 22, 2014, in Author Interview, Diana Belchase and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. Thanks for hosting me today, Earth Day!

  2. Welcome to K&T, Shannon! What a great mix of interesting elements you have in your books. They sound fascinating. Thanks for joining us today. 🙂

  3. (Diana, you meet the most interesting people. Next time we’re together I’m going to shadow you around the conference.)

    Hi Shannon good to meet you! Your story premises are awesome, and talk about timely topics…
    We almost bought a Tesla sports car a few years go. Went out to L.A. and Chicago for test drives even (since they weren’t in our city.) That was the reason we chose another car…no representatives or service in Houston back then.

    A great mystery to me needs to lay out facts early on that are indisputable and point right at the hero/heroine. Meaning you’re invested in trying to find ANY clue that another explanation/killer could set it up and get away with it. (I put on my Inspector Clouseau hat…scream out “Cato!” once in awhile…)

    Best of luck on sales!

  4. And Cato drops from the ceiling!

  5. Shannon, I’m impressed with your research and the weather as a terrorist tool idea…very interesting. For a mystery to engage me, someone I care about in the novel needs to be cornered in a way that makes me want to find out how they get out of the pickle. It’s a puzzle for me to try to solve along with the characters, intriguing enough to keep me reading into the wee hours.

    Good luck with your books, Shannon!

  6. Welcome, Shannon! Your series sounds so interesting. And timely! I read all kinds of mysteries, but I’m not sure what it is that makes me choose one over another. I just know it when I see it:)

    • I didn’t specifically hit the environmental angle because it was popular. I accidently ended up doing accounting for an environmental non-profit, so that’s where my head went. Of course, I lived in Boulder for a few years and earth awareness drifts off the Flatirons like pine pollen!

  7. I love a good conspiracy! Shannon, congrats on the book award nominations! What are you working on now?

    • I’m working on a new series about a woman sheriff in rural Nebraska. Since I lived in the Nebraska Sandhills for over 20 years and I was always considered an outsider, I think I can capture the reality, as well as a good bit of humor, of the place.

      • What brought you back to Nebraska, Shannon?

        • While I was in Flagstaff, an old collegue recruited me to do another medical device start up in Boulder. So I jumped at it. But the start up didn’t. Start up that is. So a year ago, I found myself out of day job. My husband and I penciled it out and decided we could move to Nebraska, where he could work, and with the lower cost of living, I could be a stay at home writer. We have a house in Tucson just waiting for us when he retires in 436 days.

  8. What a fascinating premise, Shannon! I can’t wait to read your books. Do you have another series you’re working on for Midnight Ink? Or will there be another book for Nora?

    • Thanks, Sharon. I’m working on another series, whether it will end up with Midnight Ink is a good question! Right now, I don’t have any Nora books planned. But she’s not dead, yet, so she can always have another adventure.

  9. Hi Shannon! Welcome to Kiss and Thrill. We have stuff in common. My daughter’s name is Shannon and I also write mystery/thrillers set in the Southwest. I really can’t wait to dive in to your books!
    They sound terrific!

    • Thanks Carey. It’s really more likely to run into a Shannon your daughter’s age than one my age. No one expects Shannon to be wrinkled! It’s a family name for us, but always for men. I trace it to the Civil War in our family and it follows a split so that I found a cousin my age, several branches away with the same name. They call him Shan. (More than you wanted to know, I’m sure!)

  10. Well, I need interesting characters, particularly the main character, and then I need to believe that what I’m reading could actually happen. Give me that in the first chapter and I’m yours. Thanks.

    • I think that’s a perfect criteria Carl! Thanks for visiting.

    • Hi Carl, I might have a little higher tolerance for suspencion of disbelief. My husband can’t stand to watch vampires or anything too out of his definition of reality. Though we both love Game of Thrones. I can buy into a lot of situations that might not be able to happen in real life.

  11. Suspense and a lot of twists &turns

    • Me, too, Deborah. I’m ambivalent about Gone Girl mostly because I didn’t have sympathy for the characters. But Flynn sure threw in the twists and that kept me fully engaged.

  12. Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I seriously
    enjoyed reading it, you’re a great author. I will always bookmark your blog and definitely will come back sometime soon.
    I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great work, have a nice morning!

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