Monday, June 29, 2015

Author Spotlight: Eleanor Kuhns, Librarian and Historical Mystery Writer

photo provided by Eleanor Kuhns

Many of the authors I spotlight on this blog are known to me via Facebook writers' groups, Twitter, and Google+ communities. Eleanor Kuhns is an author I am privileged to know personally, as we have met a few times when she visited my home library for book readings and signings. She is a librarian, author, and historian and writes mysteries that take place in the 1790’s, an often forgotten and fascinating period in our history. Her attention to research and rich historical detail in her Will Rees Mysteries Series made her the 2011 winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel competition. She received her master’s in Library Science from Columbia University, and is currently the Assistant Director at the Goshen Public Library in Orange County, New York. I've read Eleanor's first three books and can’t wait to read this latest one. The mystery alone is worth the read, but it's Kuhn's historical approach to facets of early American life not often included in fiction that makes her books compelling.  Welcome to Adventures in Publishing, Eleanor! Please tell us about your new book, Death in Salem.

Thanks for inviting me to speak to your readers. Marianne. Death in Salem is the fourth in the series, following Cradle to Grave. A weaver by trade, Rees earns his living by traveling around and weaving for the farmwives. In Death in Salem, he stops to buy something for his wife in Salem, Mass and meets a friend from his army days. Invited to the after-funeral event for the deceased Anstiss Boothe, Rees meets this wealthy merchant family. Within a few days, her husband, Jacob Boothe, is also dead and this time it is clearly murder. Rees quickly gets swept up in the investigation. Smuggling, prostitution, and piracy all play a part in the solution.


"You stole her from us!” The scream broke into Rees’s conversation and he turned to look. A young man with the lanky unfinished look of someone in his mid-teens staggered across the floor; it was Dickie Coville. “You took Anstiss away from us and now she’s dead,” the boy shouted.  The buzz of conversation faded as everyone turned to stare. “You!” His wavering forefinger pointed at Margaret Boothe, standing with her father. ”It’s your fault she’s dead.”          

“Now, Dickie,” Mr. Boothe said as he stepped toward the weeping boy. “All of us grieve for Anstiss.” Moisture glittered in his eyes but he willed it away. “I miss her so much.”            

Rees admired the man’s control in the hour after his wife’s funeral. He knew how he would feel if Lydia died. Just the thought of it left a gaping emptiness in his belly and brought moisture to his eyes. He quickly wiped away his tears. Twig turned and threw his old comrade a questioning glance.  

An interview with Eleanor Kuhns:

Were you born a writer or did it evolve?

I think I was born to be a writer. I wrote my first story at the age of ten and I really have never stopped. It has always been a compulsion to get the words out. I wrote fantasy and science fiction first but I always read mysteries. They were my relaxation, ironic considering that I write them now.

Are you a full time or part-time writer?  If writing part-time, how do you make time in your life to write?

Because I am still employed as a librarian, I fit my writing in around my work schedule. Usually I get up very early in the morning - very early and write until 8 o'clock. Then I stop and get dressed and pack my lunch for work.

Do you work from an outline or just go with the flow? If you use an outline, how detailed is it?

I never outline. I usually have an idea of setting and where I want to go with the story but I don't know what the characters will do until I put them in motion.

Explain your research process.

When I research, I collect books and fill them with post-its. If I own the book I highlight (I know this is anathema to a librarian but I have to.) Otherwise, I copy the pages I need. And I always always take copious notes.

   Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

Minotaur just accepted the fifth Will Rees novel, working title The Devil's Cold Dish. I am now working on the sixth. (I told you it was a compulsion.)

How have the changes in present day publishing impacted writing career?

The changes in the publishing world mean that I spend tons of time on social media, blogging, twittering and so forth. I love to blog - it is my chance to talk about my research as well as other things of interest. I include tons of pictures of my garden and my dog, for example. (My blog is on my website). But doing all of this is such a terrible time sink. I would rather be writing! 

About the Author:
A lifelong librarian, Eleanor Kuhns is currently the Assistant Director at Goshen Public Library, Goshen, New York. She is the 2011 winner of the Mystery Writers of America/ Minotaur First Novel competition for A Simple Murder. She has since published Death of a Dyer, Cradle to Grave, and now A Death in Salem.

Connect with Eleanor:
Website and blog                                            

Purchase links:
Barnes and Noble

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