I'm happy to welcome Anna Loan-Wilsey back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Anna writes the Hattie Davish Mystery series. A Deceptive Homecoming, the fourth book in the series, was just released last week.
Kathy: In A Deceptive Homecoming Hattie Davish returns to her hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri. Is it true when they say you can't go home again?
ALW: Yes, I believe it is true, at least it is for Hattie. I went into this book knowing that Hattie would find that not only had her hometown changed since she'd left but that she too had changed as had the way in which others perceived her. She finds it unsettling. On the good side though, Hattie also finds unexpected, and much need, closure (and peace) from certain elements of her past.
Kathy: Hattie's investigation of some bizarre goings-on lead her to a cemetery and the tunnels of the State Lunatic Asylum. I've always had a fascination for cemeteries and asylums, especially those from Hattie's time in the late 19th century. Do these places hold a fascination for you as well?
ALW: I too have been fascinated by cemeteries. They hold a sense of history unlike anywhere else. Once, while researching a book, I went to the town cemetery after spending hours and hours reading the local newspaper. I was shocked to see so many of the names I'd seen mentioned in the newspaper on tombstones. For me, these people were alive just hours ago! I have to admit though that before I researched this book, I knew little of asylums, besides knowing in a vague way I'd never want to be a patient in one. Now I know in very definite ways why I'd never want to be a patient in one!
Kathy: Have you had an opportunity to visit an abandoned asylum?
ALW: Yes and no. The 19th century Kirkbride building for State Lunatic Asylum #2 in St. Joseph, Mo is now part of a prison and thus completely inaccessible. Luckily, the asylum was expanded and some of those buildings now house the Glore Psychiatric Museum which includes photographs, artifacts, beds, baths, instruments, equipment, chandeliers, part of the Grand Staircase, a morgue and more of what was in the original building. Under the museum are tunnels that at one point connected all of the buildings together, including the 19th century building. I was lucky enough to be given a tour of some of those tunnels.
Kathy: When it comes to writing I understand there are 2 general camps-plotters, who diligently plot their stories, and pansters, who fly by the seat of their pants. Are you a plotter, a panster, or do you fall somewhere in between?
ALW: I am definitely a plotter, writing a detailed scene by scene outline before I start writing the first draft of the book. And then I write the draft scene by scene according to the outline. However, I also, on occasion, may change something that I had written in the outline, while writing the book itself. Usually the change applies to something I didn't anticipate in the plot line or when a character deviates from my initial vision.
Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?
ALW: Many readers have mentioned wanting to know more of Hattie's back story. So I conceived this book to give them more of an insight into Hattie's past by sending her home. But it wasn't until I heard on the radio an actual case where a corpse was identified by family only to have their actual relative reappear days later, had I found the inspiration for the mystery. The rest of the plot was inspired by the setting, St. Joseph, itself.
Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Hattie Davish?
ALW: I can share that Hattie, after her trip home, stays in Sir Arthur's employ and follows him to Washington D.C. to help him research his next Civil War project. I can also share that Walter, using the excuse to visit his sister, who is married to a U.S. Congressman, visits Hattie there as well. (He may even have a very important question to ask her.) And while in D.C., Hattie, Sir Arthur and Walter's lives will intersect with "Coxey's Army," the men participating in the historic first ever "march" on Washington. And as I like to say, "and then bad things happen!"
Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?
ALW: Book #5 in the Hattie Davish Mystery series, A March to Remember, will be release next summer.
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