Monday, October 29, 2012

Scene of the Crime with Author Anna Loan-Wilsey!

This week's featured author is Anna Loan-Wilsey whose book, A Lack of Temperance made me wonder why I'd never read a mystery using the backdrop of the women's temperance movement before. The main character, Hattie Davish, is a traveling private secretary, and I'm eagerly awaiting the second book in the series, Anything But Civil. Anna has very graciously agreed to share a sneak peek of this second Hattie Davish mystery:

Once famed for its lead mines, steamboats and Civil War heroes, Galena, Illinois, is now a sleepy river town.  This is exactly the way Miss Hattie Davish, a traveling private secretary, likes it.  While working for her mentor, Sir Arthur Windom-Green, a millionaire Civil War buff, Hattie has settled in to a routine of typing manuscripts, interviewing aging soldiers, hiking along the Galena River and preparing for a festive Christmas.  

But as Sir Arthur’s house fills with guests, the town begins to bustle with horse-driven sleighs, holiday shoppers, and cannon-firing mobs of veterans seeking revenge.  Cries of “Traitor” and “Copperhead” drown out the Christmas carols and jingle bells.  

As Hattie decorates for the holidays, she finds that behind the mistletoe and holly are unhealed wounds and long buried secrets from a war that ended over twenty-five years ago. When a Christmas dinner party is poisoned and a Santa Claus look-a-like is found dead at the foot of General Grant’s statue, Hattie wonders if this Christmas can possibly get any worse.  And then Sir Arthur is arrested for the murder.  With her life and livelihood on the line, Hattie must find the killer before she’s snuffed out like lights on the Christmas tree.

Anything But Civil is definitely on my wish list, and I hope you put it on yours, too!

Anna Loan-Wilsey

As always, I've rounded up a few links so that you can connect with this talented writer and learn even more about her:

Now... on to the fun part-- the interview!

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

I read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes adventure The Hound of the Baskervilles when I was about 11.  I was probably too young to fully appreciate it but I loved it because my mother loved it.  

Before that though I adored the Sweet Pickles series!  I belonged to the club and eagerly awaited the arrival of each new book from Who Stole Alligator’s Shoe? to Zip Goes Zebra.  I was mortified when my mother gave my collection away thinking I was too old for them.  I’ve been slowly buying the series back, book by book, for my daughter to read and enjoy.

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

I love to travel, anywhere and everywhere.  It could be a daytrip to city or park I’ve never been to before or a trip of a lifetime, like spending a month in China.  I also enjoy hiking, escaping into a Masterpiece Classic, and renovating our 1892 farmhouse.

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.)  

Reiman Gardens LEGO Exhibit
I’m originally from Syracuse, NY, but I’d like to recommend places from my adopted hometown of Ames, IA, since you won’t find it in guide books but you should.

Reiman Gardens, one of the largest public gardens in Iowa, is an award-winning must-see with its many themed gardens (currently including giant LEGO sculptures of plants and animals), ponds, and an indoor conservatory with a 2,500 sq. ft. glass butterfly wing. It's one of my favorite places to relax and enjoy the changing seasons.

I’d also recommend a stroll across the Iowa State University’s central campus, with its world renowned landscaping, and I know you'd enjoy listening to the bells ringing from the iconic Campanile.

If shopping is more your style, I would highly recommend a visit to downtown Ames, aka Main Street.  Newly renovated, it has everything: restaurants, coffee shops, clothing and jewelry boutiques, specialty gift and food stores (my favorite is the Ames British Store!), two bookstores and our library! Needless to say, I spend a great deal of my time on Main Street.

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

Keri Russell
Keri Russell. I’ve always been told I had the girl next door look, and I like that this lady is also smart and sexy!

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

Jessica Fletcher, first from the television show and then the Donald Bain books.  When I was younger I wanted to be just like her.  She’s curious, independent, successful, well-educated, well-traveled and has cultivated a diversity of friends.  What’s not to admire?

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

This is a very difficult question.  There are so many books that I could think of: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson, Agatha Christie’s Pocket Full of Rye (the first Christie book I ever read), but if I could pick just one, it would have to The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Being one of my absolute favorite books (I’d read it three times by the time I turned 14), I have multiple editions but not a first edition or a single one signed by the author.

How did you celebrate when you first heard you were to be published? What did you do the first time you saw one of your books on a shelf in a bookstore? 

It’s cliché but I literately jumped for joy. I’d been hiking in a local park with my new daughter (of three weeks) and had my cellphone with me just in case.  When I hung up from “the call” I couldn’t help jumping up and down, squealing with delight as my daughter looked at me with bewilderment in her eyes.  Luckily there weren’t any other hikers about at the time! 

The first time I saw my book on a shelf in a bookstore, I ended up selling it and signing it for the lady who just happened to be standing next to me at the time!

Name one thing on your Bucket List.  

Mark Twain's writing "hut" in Elmira, New York

I have been extremely fortunate to have checked several things off my bucket list lately: becoming a mother, visiting the Great Wall of China, sleeping in a glass house in the Hawaiian jungle and giving a reading of my published book.

One thing still on my list that I might be able to check off soon is my writers’ cottage.  Ever since I saw Mark Twain’s in Elmira, NY, I wanted one.  My husband recently cleared off an old foundation in the back of our property and gave me a book of cabin building plans for my birthday!

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

I would have to say Booked Up, Larry McMurty’s bookstore in Archer City, TX.  I used to live in Texas and have been there several times. Despite the fact that they recently drastically downsized, a visit to Booked Up is an experience in itself, and the stock is such an eclectic mix that you never know what you might find!


Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Anna. It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you a little better.

May your book sales do nothing but increase!


  1. I enjoyed this interview, Cathy. Odd that I did my "big" paper in college on the women's movement in Iowa but never even thought of fiction based on that or the temperance movement. Luckily, this author did think of it and I'll look for her book.

  2. I won this book through LibraryThing's early reviewer program and must say that I loved it. Great characters and I cannot wait for the next one. Great interview.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Kimberlee. I received my copy through NetGalley. Like you, I can't wait for Anything But Civil!

  3. Lovely interview....great photos too.


    Silver's Reviews

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview, Elizabeth!

  4. Wonderfully interesting post on so many levels! This sounds like a series I definitely want to read.


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