Saturday, June 2, 2012

Behind the Scenes of Maggie Get Your Gun -or- Yes, Calico Ghost Town is Real

One of the questions I get asked the most as an author is where I get my ideas from.  Unfortunately, for me, there is never really an easy answer.  Life flies at me and I just spot something shiny and another something shiny and my brain decides they should go together and I start writing a story.

But there IS a little bit of an origin story with Maggie Get Your Gun.

Last spring, I headed out to Vegas with these two trouble makers.

How James REALLY got the lead in Joe's webseries

After blowing up a bunch of stuff...

This was labeled "The Friendship Pagota"

And standing in awe of the beauty of Mother Nature...

Nature.  You're doing it wrong.

We hopped in the car and headed back to LA.  There on the right side of a road (and yes, there were signs for Alien Beef Jerky and a 50's Diner) were signs for Calico Ghost Town.  Something called to me and I decided to head back the following weekend to check it out.

So Calico was a HUGE silver mining town back in the day and, believe it or not, was owned by the Knott family.  Yah.  The ones with the amusement park and the great cookies.  There's even a ride inside of Knotts Berry Farm called Calico Mine Train.  Tricky tricky!

The Knott family fixed up the place and then turned Calico over to the San Bernadino park service.  It is still cute as a button with all sorts of delightful Knott touches.  As I was walking around, my eyes befell this sign, and I knew I had found the setting for the next Maggie book.

Maggie's Glory Hole

I don't want to give anything away, but here are some of the real places that inspired Maggie Get Your Gun (all used fictitiously, any resemblance is purely coincidental, blah blah blah).

First off, the town proper:

Entrance to Calico

You can't see it from here, but the General Store is over on the left behind the Calico Ghost Town sign.

Here's an entrance to the mine:
Real mine shafts

The exterior of the hillside apartment House in the hill

And the interior of the hillside apartment
Inside a hillside apartment

The schoolhouse and the gully
The Old School House

The train
Train Ride

And the loop out into the desert
Original mine cart and that white dot is where they first found silver

The washerwoman's tub

Chinese Water Torture

And of course, Boot Hill
Calico Cemetary Calico Cemetary Calico Cemetary

The entire place is fantastic and if you have a chance, take that detour on your next drive to Sin City.  Check it out!  The $8 you'll spend for parking is WAY better than putting $8 into a slot machine.  Trust me.


  1. Thanks for the pictures. I just started reading the book. I love seeing the inspiration for it.

    1. So glad you enjoyed them, Melissa! Maggie Get Your Gun turned into an exercise in "How can I cram all this awesome into my book?!?!" I madly adore Calico.