Amber Foxx writes the mystery series featuring healer and psychic Mae Martin. Amber’s professional training and academic studies in various fields of complementary and alternative medicine, as well as her personal experience and travels, bring authenticity to her work. She has worked professionally in theater and dance, fitness, and academia. In her free time she enjoys music, dancing, art, running and yoga. She divides her time between the southeast and the southwest, but Truth or Consequences, New Mexico is home.
Hello, Amber! Thank you for chatting with me today about your B.R.A.G. Medallion Book, Shaman’s Blues. Before we talk about your book, tell me how you discovered indieBRAG and what has your experience with self-publishing been like thus far?
Like many indie authors I was in the invisible zone but I wanted to be careful about my path out of it. I found indieBRAG when I researched reputable ways to get recognition for good quality books without paying a fortune to win a contest. So far self-publishing has been a slow and steady path, quite undramatic. I planned and researched thoroughly before I made the decision, and have a solid support system through Sisters in Crime. Marketing is still a learning process. I’ve always joked that I couldn’t sell water in the desert—I’m not a natural sales person, even though I’m an extravert and love to talk to people.
How much time do you spend writing and what is your process?
I have a commitment to write every day, and I spend at least two or three hours on it after my day jobs (professor and yoga teacher). Even when I’m traveling across the country and driving for thirteen hours a day, I’ll put in twenty minutes before I go to bed. On vacations and weekends I can easily write for eight hours or more. My process: I used to be an actor and loved improvisation. In my first draft I create characters and plots by improvisation, then go back and chop up and recycle scenes and plot elements into something workable using a grid for main plot, subplots, themes, and character goals. Even when I’m in the improv stage, I polish each scene for clarity, flow and plot development before I go the next. Plots that started out as two stories may blend into one, or one may split off into two. I have a number of excellent critique partners—other mystery writers—and with their input I revise my books over and over for anywhere from a year to three years.
Please tell me about your book. Shaman’s Blues, the B.R.A.G. medallion book, the second in a series.
My protagonist, Mae Martin is starting life over in a new place, where she hopes she’ll have some quiet time to regroup and to be with her father, from whom she’s been separated for many years. Things turn out quite differently. She’s asked to use her psychic ability to find two missing people. One of them is easy to find, but hard to get rid of. Although a puzzling death in the past is a subplot, this isn’t a murder mystery. The mysteries are the layers of secrets people hide. Both the missing people can be thought of as human mysteries. When I wrote the book I thought of it as mystery with a touch of romance, but I took many of the expected elements of a romance novel and flipped them so the opposite happens.
What are some of the fun things about writing mystery stories and what are the challenges?
I’m not sure I’d differentiate between challenges and fun. Since I write murder-less mysteries, the delightful challenge is coming up with unique puzzles that don’t involve figuring out “whodunit.”
Your main character is a psychic and healer. Can you tell me about one of the people she has helped and what is an example of a challenge she faces with these gifts?
In the first book, The Calling, Mae’s family responds to her discovery of her gift with a mix of skepticism and outright opposition from the outset, when all she’s done so far with her psychic gift is find a missing hunter and a lost cat. Mae’s friend and mentor Dr. Bernadette Pena insists Mae could be a healer. Mae doubts it, but agrees to help her as a kind of experiment. The resulting changes in Bernadette’s life choices bring Mae into a conflict with a man whose powers exceed her own.
What are her strengths and weaknesses?
Mae Martin was raised to be a Southern lady but by nature she’s forthright and unconventional, so she’s always a little torn between being nice and speaking her mind. She’s maternal and nurturing, sometimes too much so. It’s both her best trait and her weakness. In Shaman’s Blues, Mae’s urge to take care of people is what drives the plot—and it conflicts with her plan to have time alone and take care of herself.
Your story takes place in 2010, in Santa Fe and Truth or Consequences New Mexico. Please tell me a little about Truth or Consequences. I’m sure not too many people have heard of that place. And please tell me why you chose that place for the setting of your story.
Truth or Consequences is the Sierra County seat, a small town in the southern part of the state. T or C, as we call it, is a center for arts and healing as well as county government. It’s been a healing place since the days when it was Apache territory because of the hot springs along the Rio Grande. It became well known as a healing center in the first half of the 20th century partly because of Magnolia Ellis. Her touch could relieve pain and illness, and people would line up to receive her treatments. The building on Broadway in T or C where she had her practice is a historic landmark with her name on the roof in a blue neon sign. T or C still attracts visitors to its hot spring spas and natural health clinics. It also has a thriving art scene. It’s an off-beat, colorful town, where eccentricity is more common than cacti (and there are plenty of those). All of the above explain why I chose the setting, as well as the fact that I know and love the place.
Having read your detailed description of the story you shared with me, I believe there is a message readers will come away with. Could you share a little of what that is?
Any work of art—painting, a song, a sculpture, a book—reaches each person in a unique way. So, without delivering an overt message, I’d say I used a theme of compassion. Another theme is the conflict between independence and interdependence.
What book project are you currently working on?
The fourth book in the series, Soul Loss, is now with my editor. The mysteries in it include an inexplicable near-death experience, a nineteen-year-old model who won’t contact her parents, and something strange affecting the powers of psychics and healers in Santa Fe. I’m working on the fifth book, in which the mystery relates to the legacy of a famous artist in Truth or Consequences.
Where can readers buy your book?
The Mae Martin Series is available from all online book retailers.
A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Amber Foxx, who is the author of, Shaman’s Blue, our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Shaman’s Blues, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.