Alta Asks Live: Ken Layne

If anyone knows about the mysteries and secrets held within the Mojave Desert, it’s 'Desert Oracle' author Ken Layne.

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If anyone knows about the mysteries and secrets held within the Mojave Desert, it’s Ken Layne. Desert Oracle: Volume 1: Strange True Tales from the American Southwest is Layne’s handy field guide to one of his favorite slices of the West. The podcast host, publisher, and writer joined Alta managing editor Blaise Zerega to dig into the desert’s quirky past and present, and take us on a journey through the massive, magical Mojave.

Layne joined Alta for a written interview ahead of this appearance.


About the Author

Ken Layne publishes Desert Oracle and hosts its companion radio show and podcast from a haunted old compound in the great Mojave wilderness, one of four American deserts he has called home.

He loves all the desert creatures, but especially the local gopher snakes, ravens, coyotes, and antelope ground squirrels. Find out more, if you must, at and

About the Book

The cult-y pocket-size field guide to the strange and intriguing secrets of the Mojave―its myths and legends, outcasts and oddballs, flora, fauna, and UFOs―becomes the definitive, oracular book of the desert.

For the past five years, Desert Oracle has existed as a quasi-mythical quarterly periodical available to the very determined only by subscription or at the odd desert-town gas station or the occasional hipster boutique, its canary-yellow-covered 44-page issues handed from one curious desert zealot to the next, word spreading faster than the printers could keep up. It became a radio show, a podcast, a live performance. Now, for the first time―and including both classic and new, never-before-seen revelations―Desert Oracle has been bound between two hard covers and is available to you.

Straight out of Joshua Tree, California, Desert Oracle is “the Voice of the Desert”: a field guide to the strange tales, singing sand dunes, sagebrush trails, artists and aliens, authors and oddballs, ghost towns and modern legends, musicians and mystics, scorpions and saguaros out there in the sand. Desert Oracle is your companion at a roadside diner, around a campfire, in your tent or cabin (or high-rise apartment or suburban living room) as the wind and the coyotes howl outside at night.

From journal entries of long-deceased adventurers to stray railroad ad copy, and musings on everything from desert flora, rumored cryptid sightings, and other paranormal phenomena, Ken Layne’s Desert Oracle collects the weird and the wonderful of the American Southwest into a single, essential volume.


Desert Oracle: Volume 1: Strange True Tales from the American Southwest, by Ken Layne


Here are a few links to some of the books, topics, and authors mentioned in this episode of Alta Asks Live:

Land of Little Rain by Mary Austin
Searching for Mary Austin” by Joy Lanzendorfer
Scenes in America Deserta by Reyner Banham
More information on The Mojave Project
Read Desert Oracle (the journal)
Listen to Desert Oracle (the podcast)
Tune in to Desert Oracle radio show (Fridays at 10 p.m. on KCDZ-FM, 107.7, but the show can be heard on
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Author Edmund C. Jaeger
Mojave on my Mind,” Matt Jaffe’s Alta article on California Desert Protection Act of 1994
Dignity, Ken Layne’s first novel

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