Although I didn’t start writing Lawless until July 2016, this book has been a long time coming. I first put pen to paper — or fingers to keys — after my second trip to New Mexico, but I fell in love with the Southwest long before that.

Back when I was in college, I took a cross-country road trip with a friend of mine who was moving to California. It was on that trip that I glimpsed the mountains for the first time and fell head-over-heels in love with Colorado. We drove through Utah and Nevada in an old car with no A.C. before reaching California, providing inspiration for the the setting of The Fringe and the desolate desert surrounding the compounds.

In 2015, I took a vacation to Taos, New Mexico, and returned home practically vibrating with creative energy. I’d hiked along the Rio Grande, summited my first mountain, and skinny-dipped in natural hot springs with a bunch of eccentric strangers. I’d been amazed by the varied and breathtaking landscape, the people, and the history of the place. Taos has called writers, artists, and great thinkers to her for centuries, and you just can’t escape the creative energy. The whole town is steeped in it.

 

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The Tower House on Stanley’s Farm in Dixon
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Enjoying some wine in Dixon, NM
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Happy chickens in Taos

Soon after I moved to Colorado Springs, I took a research trip to Santa Fe to do some camping and exploring. It was after this trip that I determined that Santa Fe should be Lark’s hometown. It’s another great artsy city that’s just a stone’s throw from gorgeous National Forest.

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Hiking near my new home in Colorado Springs

On that trip, we camped at 10,000 feet, and that gorgeous solitude lent the inspiration I needed to imagine the woods as Lark would see them. (Incidentally, I picked Texas as Soren’s birthplace after binge-watching Fixer Upper on Netflix.)

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Taos Pueblo — one of the oldest enduring communities in the U.S.

Parts of New Mexico are the way most people picture the Southwest: sprawling fields of sagebrush where the air is dry and dusty and adobe houses are everywhere, but other parts are teeming with wildlife. Up near Dixon you’ll find lush green trees, vineyards, and the incomprehensible Rio Grande Gorge. Up in Taos Ski Valley and parts of Carson National Forest, it looks a lot like Colorado: coniferous trees, mountain vistas, and ski lifts.

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Overlooking Williams Lake

To create the world of Lawless, I had to do a lot of sketching and imagining. In the front of the book, you’ll find a rough map of San Judas. I put it in the book at the suggestion of one of my brilliant betas, and it’s based off my own original drawings. (Don’t laugh.)

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