Venturing Into The Known
I’ve often said that when choosing topics and themes for my books, I look for untold stories.
As a social historian and novelist, I love discovering tales and details about some topic, group, or person that excites my passion; something or someone I believe readers will enjoy discovering as well. When I began conceptualizing my Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mysteries, I wanted to help shine a bit of lamplight on special museums and historic places that deserve a broader audience.
I’ve turned that premise upside down in my newest Chloe mystery, Death on the Prairie.
Chloe, a curator, is given a quilt believed to have been owned by—and possibly made by—Laura Ingalls Wilder. Chloe (who is a lot like me) is thrilled by the discovery. Wilder’s books had a lot to do with her career in museum work.
She and her sister set off on a road trip into Laura Land. They plan to discuss the quilt with staff at historic sites devoted to the Ingalls family (six sites in six different states), attend a symposium about the famous author, and learn what they can about the quilt’s provenance.
Since Death on the Prairie is a mystery, things obviously do not go as planned. Chloe faces some serious challenges as she races time—and a killer—to find answers.
But for me, the biggest challenge involved writing a book about a person who is extremely well known. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books have been beloved by generations of readers, all around the world. Death on the Prairie discusses stories that many readers hold dear.
So many, in fact, that my fictional “Looking For Laura” symposium is loosely based on real conferences. Last summer I attended my first LauraPalooza, an academic conference sponsored by the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Wilder devotees presented an amazingly diverse range of programs about Wilder’s world, ranging from a physician’s research into why Mary Ingalls went blind, a young adult author’s study of Almanzo Wilder as an archetypal hero, a Japanese translator’s experience bringing the stories home—and many more. I felt like a Laura amateur, but I also loved the energy and sense of camaraderie among the conference attendees.
Wilder’s popularity has also been attested to by the phenomenal success of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, edited by Pamela Smith Hill and published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press. Laura Ingalls Wilder actually wrote the memoir before turning to fiction, but could not find a publisher. Press staff hoped that the book might sell 15,000 copies, and planned accordingly. Over 150,000 copies have been sold since the book was published in late 2014.
So Death on the Prairie is being released at a time when Laura fans know more than ever before about the real woman behind the stories.
And that’s OK. The process of researching and writing Death on the Prairie was, for me, a personal introduction into the world behind the famous books.
And it is for Chloe as well. The series is set in the early 1980s, long before the web made connecting with kindred souls easy and the publication of Pioneer Girl let everyone peek behind the curtain. Because so many readers share my pleasure in Wilder’s books, I hope that Chloe’s experiences might evoke a pleasant “Oh, yes, I felt the same way” as they share her discoveries.
Series: A Chloe Ellefson Mystery (Book 6)
Publisher: Midnight Ink (October 8, 2015)
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Buy: Amazon, Kindle, IndieBound, The Book Depository
Chloe Ellefson and her sister, Kari, have long dreamed of visiting each historic site dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder. When Chloe takes custody of a quilt once owned by the beloved author, the sisters set out on the trip of a lifetime, hoping to prove that Wilder stitched it herself.
But death strikes as the journey begins, and trouble stalks their fellow travelers. Among the "Little House" devotees are academic critics, greedy collectors, and obsessive fans. Kari is distracted by family problems, and unexpected news from Chloe's boyfriend jeopardizes her own future. As the sisters travel deeper into Wilder territory, Chloe races to discover the truth about a precious artifact—and her own heart—before a killer can strike again.
Thanks to the author, I have one (1) copy of Death on the Prairie to give away.
Giveaway open to residents of the US only.
Giveaway ends on October 31st
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Winner will have 48 hours, from the time of notification to confirm their win or another winner will be chosen.
Kathleen Ernst is a former museum curator who remains passionate about history! In addition to the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites series, she has written many books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott. Over 1.5 million copies of Kathleen’s 33 titles have been sold. The Chloe series has earned a LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards.
October 9 – Laura’s Interests – Review, Giveaway
October 10 – Christa Reads and Writes – Review
October 11 – StoreyBook Reviews – Guest Post, Giveaway
October 12 – readalot – Review
October 13 – Tea and A Book – Review, Interview
October 14 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – Spotlight, Giveaway
October 15 – Omnimystery News – Guest Post
October 16 – View from the Birdhouse – Review, Giveaway
October 17 – Lori’s Reading Corner – Guest Post
October 18 – Frankie Bow’s Blog – Spotlight
October 19 – Back Porchervations – Review
October 20 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review, Interview, Giveaway
October 21 – Book Splurge – Review
October 22 – LibriAmoriMiei – Review, Giveaway