On the Shelf: Author introduces audience to unique area of New Mexico

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NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Murder-mystery writer Amy Bennett draws from real locations in New Mexico that inspire her fictional location, Bonnie County, for her “Black Horse Campground” series. Living in Bent and working in Ruidoso, Bennett said there is no shortage of stories to be told.

Bennett said mystery is her favorite genre. Before she began publishing her own book series, she would read local writers’ works that were also set in the state. She observed that most of the stories set in that area of New Mexico were dated, focusing on the older history of the area instead of what it is now. “I felt like the area around Ruidoso was very much underrepresented in literature. Most people, they hear ‘New Mexico,’ they either think Breaking Bad or Billy the Kid,” Bennett said.

Amy Bennet and her husband Paul at a book launch at Noisy Water Winery.

Like many writers, author Bennett loved reading first. At an early age, she would put her own spin on whatever she was reading, and even taught herself how to be a better writer. She subscribed to writing magazines, studied writing books at the library, and anything she could get her hands on.

She had a unique introduction to publishing her works, one not many authors can boast. A mentor pointed her in the direction of a mystery novel contest, where the first prize was the publication of the author’s first mystery novel. Bennett won the contest and had her first book in the series, “End of the Road,” published in 2011. “I was really able to incorporate some of that local flavor into the books,” Bennett said.

Bennett at a book talk at Alamogordo Public Library.

She got a three-book contract with that publishing house. After that, her mentor invited her to join the publishing group he was with for her series. “I wanted to write something that would introduce people to the area where I live and say, ‘hey, come on down, enjoy yourself, I promise you won’t get killed, but you’ll have something entertaining to keep you up at night sometimes,'” Bennett said with a chuckle.

Bennett enjoys writing mystery stories, but she is also very aware of what kind of reputation she gives the town that she writes about. “I just didn’t want everybody to think, ‘Gee, I don’t want to go to that place because I might get murdered,'” Bennett said. In response to that, she is expanding from the Ruidoso area in her books to northern Albuquerque and Santa Fe in her newest book, set to release this summer.

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