Ghosts in the Desert

The Making of a Novel

By Christi Nogle

In June, Boise writer Christi Nogle won the Bram Stoker Award™ for Superior Achievement in a First Novel presented by the Horror Writers Association for her book, Beulah, which is set in Idaho. It also was a finalist in the novels section for this year’s prestigious Shirley Jackson Awards. We asked Christi to write about how the state and her experiences here inspired the book.

When I was a child, my parents and I moved around to many different towns, mostly in southern Illinois and Indiana, but I have vivid memories of visits to Idaho. My grandparents, Lyle and Irene King, ran King’s Pottery in their home just off the Snake River Canyon near Buhl.

We would take day trips to Sun Valley and over the border to Jackpot, Nevada, as well as exploring around the house, always accompanied by their adventurous poodles. Before they sold off the back half of their property, they had a beautiful view of the canyon, a pond where we skated once in winter, and many nooks and outbuildings to explore.

I remember being impressed by how the sun shone brightly in winter and by the stone-filled fields. Strangely stark and dry compared to the Midwest, Idaho seemed an alien landscape.

My mother had been nostalgic about Idaho ever since living in Eagle and Jerome for brief periods as a child, and so when we lost my father, we moved to Buhl and then when she remarried, to Emmett and her dream log cabin in Jerome. Eventually she joined me in Boise, where I had moved to attend and then teach at Boise State University. She lived the rest of her life here, and my grandparents joined us here in their last years.

My first novel, Beulah, is inspired by Idaho landscapes and small towns but skewed, layered—fictionalized.

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Christi Nogle

About Christi Nogle

Christi Nogle is the author of the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated and Bram Stoker Award®-winning First Novel Beulah and the short story collections The Best of Our Past, the Worst of Our Future and Promise: A Collection of Weird Science Fiction Short Stories. She is co-editor with Willow Dawn Becker of the Bram Stoker Award®-nominated anthology Mother: Tales of Love and Terror and co-editor with Ai Jiang of Wilted Pages: An Anthology of Dark Academia. Follow her at and on Twitter @christinogle

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