It was a first and I’m still recovering.

I live in a fairly friendly town. So when there was a shoutout for women who work from home to meet for coffee, I went. About 20 gals showed up, none of whom I knew. As we were introducing ourselves, one of them said. “I’ve read your books. I had no idea you lived here.”

Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather, as the saying goes. Some time ago, she discovered the Detective Emilia Cruz books through a BookBub deal for a free book. Read the free book and bought two more.

It was a vote of much-needed confidence.

Far and near

I worried when we moved to the US heartland that I was far from my sources of inspiration. Would I lose touch with Mexico and the culture that so inspired me to write the Detective Emilia Cruz series and thriller THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY? I had been immersed in the colors, food, the language, the religious traditions that formed the calendar of life in Mexico City. I’m far from Acapulco, palm trees, and cliff divers.

But on the other hand, there’s no escaping drug cartel crime. Mexico’s homicide rates are going up in lockstep (see https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/death-toll-put-at-20-for-mexico-cartel-attack-near-us-border/2019/12/01/edd68fd2-149c-11ea-80d6-d0ca7007273f_story.html) with the US death rate from drug use. (see https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates). In my own corner of the world, the opioid crisis is painfully in evidence.

Related: Welcome to the Opioid Crisis

The Mexican cartels are inside the US. The biggest jefe is known as El Mencho. He’s got a 10 million dollar price on his head. CBS news has a great video report on his organization’s presence: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/el-mencho-mexican-cartel-boss-behind-one-third-of-drugs-in-the-us-2019-09-26/, even mentioning that he was behind the shooting down of a Mexican government helicopter, which I referenced in 43 MISSING, Detective Emilia Cruz Book 6. (FYI: Free for Kindle Unlimited right now)

Rolling Stone warned us about El Mencho two years ago, calling him “Mexico’s next generation narco.” https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/the-brutal-rise-of-el-mencho-196980/

Mirror, mirror

Facebook keeps me in touch with friends in Mexico but there are surprising sources of inspiration here at home.

Bittersweet

This vine called bittersweet wraps around trees here. A strangling parasite or a plant that sustains and supports the tree? It seems to me to be the essential question as I write the relationship between Emilia Cruz and her mother, the ever child-like Sophia.

Virgin

My small Catholic church has a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe in a niche to the left of the main altar. When I saw that, my Mexico memories felt tangible again. Not as far away as they were a moment ago.

Validation via work boot

We don’t hear Spanish spoken here very often, but my husband fell into conversation with two native speakers while buying work boots. The men were surprised to hear a tall gringo speak fluent Spanish.

Both were from the Mexican state of Guerrero. Near Acapulco, one added, assuming my husband wouldn’t know where that was.

My husband said that he was very familiar with Mexico. In fact, his wife wrote books about a female police detective in Acapulco.

He got some hard stares. “There are no female police detectives in Acapulco,” the other man said.

Some things never change.

5 Comments

  1. Jody Noble

    I loved this post, Carmen. I have similar worries now that I am back–and living in this particular suburban wasteland at the crossroad of two major freeways. May your post be a harbinger of inspiration.

    Reply
  2. Mikel Miller

    Saludos from Guadalajara, Mexico. Love the anecdote about buying work boots in the heartland and interacting with Mexican immigrants. And I remember bittersweet vines from my youth on a Missouri farm. Write on, Carmen!

    Reply
    • Carmen

      Mikel, I hope you know how much you inspire me and dozens of other Mexico Writers with your kind words and support.

      Reply
  3. michael hogan

    Love it! There are no female detectives in Acapulco! We know better, right? Thanks for the memories and touchstones, Carmen. Un abrazo muy fuerte.

    Reply
    • Carmen

      Gracias, mi amigo!

      Reply

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CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict. 

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