Monday, September 30, 2013

Scene of the Crime with Author Susan Wittig Albert!

This week's featured author is undoubtedly known to many of you. Susan Wittig Albert has written up a storm during her career: the China Bayles mystery series, the Cottage Tales books featuring Beatrix Potter, the Darling Dahlias series set in 1930s Alabama, and twelve books written under the joint pseudonym of Robin Paige with her husband Bill. Whew!

And that's not all because her latest book is about to be released. A Wilder Rose is all about the collaboration between Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, in creating the beloved "Little House" books. If you stop by Kittling: Books tomorrow-- the day of its release-- you'll be able to read my review. As a very young reader, I turned to those Little House books after devouring all of Thornton Burgess's, so I was thrilled to be able to read A Wilder Rose.

Susan Wittig Albert
You know me... I love to do a bit of research, and here are some links I've found so that you can learn even more about this talented writer:

Now let's get to the fun part-- the interview!

What was the very first book you remember reading and loving? What makes that book so special?

It was Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit! My mother read it to me so often that I knew the words by sight and sound and could “read” it to myself out loud, as I turned the pages. I’ve thought of that many times since, because Miss Potter became a character in a mystery that my husband Bill and I wrote for our Robin Paige series, Death at Bishop’s Keep (1996). A few years later, I began writing the Cottage Tales series, eight British village mysteries that told the story of her life from 1905 (when her first love died) to 1913, when she married her country solicitor and became Mrs. Heelis.

Outside of your writing and all associated commitments, what do you like to do in your free time?

I find my center here at Meadow Knoll, our 31 acres in the Texas Hill Country. I have a veggie garden, herbs and flowers; a small laying flock (occasionally I raise a flock of meat birds for the freezer); a cow; and 2 dogs and a cat. I’m also a fiber fanatic: I love working with wool, from fleece to yarn—spinning, dyeing, weaving, knitting. I love needlepoint and cross-stich too. Keeps me out of trouble!

If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend that I go? (I like seeing and doing things that aren't in all the guide books.) 

My hometown—let’s see, that would be Danville, Illinois. We lived on a farm outside Danville when I was growing up. I know you like books: how about the Carnegie Library. It’s a war museum now--not sure that’s a good use of that beautiful old building. But I spent so many wonderful hours in the children’s library, basement, lower right in the photo. I can still smell those books!

You have total control over casting a movie based on your life. Which actor would you cast as you?

Kathy Bates
Oh, Kathy Bates! I adore her, especially in Dolores Claiborne, which is a fantastic film. And of course, Fried Green Tomatoes. She’s funnier than I am, which is a good thing. I’m way too serious.

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

Oh, hey, who do you think? China Bayles! But next to her, there’s Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch. And Virgil Flowers (John Sandford). Love ’em both. Tough guys, smart cops, with hearts.

If you could have in your possession one signed first edition of any book in the world, which book would that be? Why that particular book?

Another easy one. John Gerard’s Great Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes, 1597, illustrated with woodblocks by Jacobus Theodorus Tabernaemontanus (wouldn’t you hate to have a name like that?). But I’ll have to be content with digital images. The book is priceless.

How did you celebrate when you first heard you were to be published?

I was at my desk at Southwest Texas State University in 1983 when I got a phone call from a YA editor at Bantam. She said (and I quote—it’s graven on my memory): “You’re not going to believe this, but I’m buying your book.” She had picked it off the slush pile—I was too dumb to know I needed an agent.

Name one thing on your Bucket List.

Aw, gee—just one? Attend the Hollywood premier of A Wilder Rose. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

You've just received a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice. Which bookstore are you making a bee-line for?  

Murder by the Book, in Houston. They have hosted me every year (often several times a year!) since 1992. I absolutely love those guys, and I always spend way too much money when I go there.

Available October 1!
Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Susan. It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you a little better! This interview reminds me that I have a "Darling Dahlias" and a "Robin Paige" waiting for me on my to-be-read shelves, and as a fellow needlepoint enthusiast, I made note of the American Quilt Collection you  mention on your blog.

May your book sales do nothing but increase!


Don't forget to stop by tomorrow for my review of A Wilder Rose!


  1. Cathy, thanks for the interview--the questions were fun!

    1. I'm glad you liked them, Susan. I try to find questions that authors haven't been asked a billion times before. :-)

  2. Thanks so much for bringing A Wilder Rose to my attention! I just got my Kindle copy. :-)

    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Debbie!


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