The Southwest is in my blood and my bones, and that means I’ve got lots of strange stories packed into my essential being. For a long time I’d been looking for a way to incorporate them into my writing, but it wasn’t until we were sitting around my cousin’s kitchen table late one night that she gave me the simple solution. The whole region is just haunted, she had commented, and those weird stories are desperate to be told.
For centuries, the American Southwest and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands have witnessed the clashes and convergences of many cultural groups, and that’s made for quite a set of rich folkloric traditions. There’s also a long catalog of historical incidents so bizarre, they almost don’t seem plausible.
In this biweekly narrative podcast, I share some of those darker, moodier stories. Don’t fret, that leaves us plenty of material to explore. I sometimes wonder if there isn’t a shadow over this part of the map— the land is beautiful, the people charming, but you don’t have to look too hard to find the haunted, gritty, wistful side of things.
Some of these tales I’ve known since childhood. Others I learned in school, or I stumbled across them doing research about something else. Some are souvenirs from trips when I’ve stopped in a spot long enough to listen. Initially some stories seem unique, or new— but the more I ruminate on them the more I see the common elements that tie them to other peoples’ stories from other times and places. The Southwest is a place like no other, but the human truths buried deep in its stories tell us that at their core, its people are like people everywhere else.