I was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, and have lived here nearly all my life. I’ve read English mysteries since I was a teen-ager, though, and they bred in me a love of England that led to my first mystery series. I knew it was unlikely I could ever afford to live in a lovely little seventeenth-century cottage somewhere in Kent or Sussex—but if I created a character who did just that, I could live her life vicariously, and instead of costing me a fortune, that life would actually make me some money. Such a deal!
Thus was born Dorothy Martin, who is essentially my alter-ago, though she’s named after my favorite cousin. She appeared first in a short story I wrote many, many years ago. It has never been published, but Dorothy waited patiently in the wings, and when the idea for her first book came into my head, there she was, ready to take center stage.
That book, The Body in the Transept, won the Agatha award for Best First Novel of 1995, and Dorothy has gone on to many more adventures since. In 1998 I began to hanker after a new character, a new setting, and—I’ll admit it—a little more income. So I came up with the series set in my home town, starring a strong-willed young Swedish housemaid. Housemaid? Yes, because that series is set about a hundred years ago, when the wealthy families in America still had servants.
Hilda Johansson works for one of the wealthiest families in South Bend, the Studebakers. You may know them as automobile manufacturers, some years back, but in Hilda’s time their main products were wagons and carriages. I’ve enjoyed the research these books have required, and I’ve grown to love Hilda and her fellow immigrants to a South Bend very different from the one I live in now. At present Hilda is languishing in my computer, waiting for me to find a new publisher for her.
In late 2009 I lost my husband of 38 years, and living alone is taking some getting used to. Well, I say alone. I have, at this writing, five cats, three of my own and two who are visiting…perhaps permanently. The three are the ones I’ve had for years, dowager Susie, little Toby (next in age, but still kitten-like), macho Ginger. Ginger is a male, Toby a female, just to keep things confusing. Then I took in Apfel and Cody when my friend’s landlady said the cats had to go. They’re both sweet kitties, but they live in my comfy, finished basement, where I spend a lot of time writing, because they’re males, and not dependable about the sandbox if they mix with the others. They’re all pictured below.
I’m still singing in my church choir and (in summer) gardening, when my deadlines will allow. And one of these years I’ll get caught up on the housework. You read it here.
I’ve heard from quite a few of you, and love your comments, so keep them coming. Living a rather solitary life, I cherish contact with my readers. .