Today my guest is Amber Foxx. I’m so excited to host her because I am a big fan of her books. I’m not a believer of the paranormal but I am a huge believer in her ability to weave a magical plot and invent characters that make you never want the story to end.
The Mae Martin psychic mystery series
Paranormal fiction for people who don’t like paranormal fiction.
And for those who do.
No murder, just mystery.
This series blends elements of several genres—literary fiction, paranormal, suspense, and even romance, as well as mystery. In The Outlaw Women, the free short story that’s a prequel the series, there’s precognition and a psychic connection, but no mystery to solve. The Calling has been reviewed as literary fiction, or realistic fiction with paranormal elements, and as mystery in the sense of finding out secrets, but not a whodunit. Shaman’s Blues gets closer to a conventional mystery. There are missing people, and a puzzling death in the past, but still no violence. The real mystery in this book is a person, Jamie Ellerbee, in a twist on romance that turns most of the elements of that genre upside down. The third book, Snake Face, coming out in the fall, gets close to being a suspense novel. Different things are asked of the protagonist of the series, Mae Martin, as she develops as a person, and as a psychic and healer, so the books reflect the progress of her life. Some periods of life are more romantic, other more suspenseful, others full of family difficulties and personal growth, and there’s often something going on that we don’t understand—a mystery, but if we’re lucky, not a murder.
It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
He was hiding in the darkest corner he could find, and I doubted he would ever find his way out. The featureless landscape of a cement-floored cinderblock building had to be as confusing to him as the desert might be to a lost human. The previous evening I’d been out at the edge of town where the desert begins, looking for members of his species and didn’t see any, so I considered myself lucky in this close encounter, but the creature, not as fortunate. He was trying so hard to hide in that tiny bit of shadow I couldn’t tell if he was a very dark brown, or black. His whole body and legs were evenly furred in the same shade of smooth velvet. I say “he” because he was a long way from his burrow and had spurs below his knees, the identifying mark of a male—even though this tarantula was in the ladies’ room.
I always start my desert trail runs in Elephant Butte State Park at a convenient location, where there’s a rest room, preferring not to have to dodge behind a cactus later. My unexpected company demanded a decision. Delay my run and try to rescue him? He was so scared of me I couldn’t figure out how to do it. He jerked a few legs and moved closer to the corner, and then held perfectly still while I was in the room with him. I imagined all he wanted was to get back in his burrow until he needed to come out to hunt a scorpion for dinner or look for a female, but he was utterly lost.
Male tarantulas come out when it rains. They pick up the females’ pheromones on the moist air. The previous night we’d had what the Navajos call a female rain, long and soft and steady, almost all night. That could make a courting tarantula stay out too late. Refuge in the rest room must have seemed like a good idea at the time. A roof, darkness. And then half a day passed and the shelter got hotter and brighter, with only this one safe-looking space, near a grated vent too small for him to crawl through. I ran a trail that looped past the ranger station and stopped in and reported the situation. The young woman seemed receptive, but four and half miles later I came back to the ladies’ room to check on my poor fellow, and he’d gone further into the corner. I returned to the ranger station on my way out and got a different woman, who said she would get someone who was out on “the restroom run” to take care of it. They were used to removing the creatures as part of the job. No one laughed at me, said ick, or wanted to kill him. Mating season apparently has led quite a few of the big spiders into places they couldn’t find a way out of.
How many bad decisions seem like a good idea at the time? Escape of all sorts tends to be like that, whether physical or psychological. Like my tarantula, all we want to do is find love (okay, they just copulate and run off before they get eaten, but I’m taking liberties) and keep from harm, but the refuge may prove to be a different kind of trap.
In Shaman’s Blues, Mae questions one of Jamie’s many unwise choices, and he assures her that it “seemed like a good idea at the time.” He makes a lot of mistakes, but hates having to be rescued from the results. Mae’s maternal urges to help him create some of the conflict between them. Except when he needs her to remove a spider. Then he’ll take any help offered.
She’s not around when his arachnophobia leads to disaster in the next book, Snake Face. Although my characters are not based on me, Mae does share my fondness for crawly critters, a thread starting in the prequel short story The Outlaw Women. (I enjoy keeping subtle threads running from one story to the next, and tugging on them later.) Mae teaches her stepdaughters to share her love of spiders and bugs, which contributes, indirectly and accidentally, to Jamie’s trapped and terrifying situation.
As I write this, the evening after the tarantula rescue, a wild and stormy male rain has slowed down to a steady female rain and there’s a rainbow over Turtleback Mountain, draped over the turtle formation’s neck like he’s wearing a sheer scarf. I wonder if some eager male tarantula up at Elephant Butte will stay out all night, and then scurry for shelter somewhere dark and cool. This worked last time—didn’t it?
I like to imagine how my characters would react in some peculiar circumstances I find myself in, like meeting a lost and frightened tarantula. Mae would try to rescue it herself. Jamie would say a few choice words and run, but he’d feel compassion for it, too. When it comes to desperate decisions that don’t work out, he’d understand.
The Outlaw Women
Folk healer and seer Rhoda-Sue Outlaw Jackson knows her time on earth is running out when she hears the voice of her late husband telling her she has only but so many heartbeats left. She’s had a troubled relationship with her daughter, and has little hope of passing on her extraordinary gifts, either to this difficult daughter or to her granddaughter. With the final hour around the corner, she brings her family together for one more try. Can she leave the world at peace with them, as well as with her legacy?
This prequel to the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series introduces Mae at age ten, as seen through the eyes of her grandmother.
The Outlaw Women
The first Mae Martin Psychic Mystery
Obeying her mother’s warning, Mae Martin-Ridley has spent years hiding her gift of “the sight.” When concern for a missing hunter compels her to use it again, her peaceful life in a small Southern town begins to fall apart. New friends who accept her unusual talents push her to explore them further, but as she does, she discovers the shadow side of her visions— access to secrets she could regret uncovering.
Gift or curse? When an extraordinary ability intrudes on an ordinary life, ready or not, everything changes.
The second Mae Martin psychic mystery
On the eve of her move to New Mexico psychic and healer Mae Martin gets a double-edged going-away gift: beautiful music by a man who’s gone missing, and a request to find him. In her new home town, she quickly runs afoul of a questionable psychic who runs a health food restaurant. When Mae confronts her, the woman disappears—either to Santa Fe, or into another dimension. Now Mae has two missing persons on her hands. Finding them may prove easier than learning the truth about either or getting one of them, once found, to go away again.
The third Mae Martin Psychic Mystery
Trying to revive his career, singer Jamie Ellerbee is on his first tour. Mae Martin is venturing into her first relationship since her divorce. Bad judgment and worse luck force Jamie to ask for Mae’s psychic aid. His unrequited love for her makes it an awkward request, but she can’t refuse to help a friend. The more she looks into the problem, the more frightening it becomes and the wider its web expands—not only into Jamie’s past, but also a bad-boy celebrity’s private life, and even her new boyfriend’s history.