Where Do My Mysteries Begin?
My mysteries always begin first with my infamous list, then a bit of history, followed by an extended visit.
The list has grown over the years and has been added to not just by me, but dozens of folks who have read my books. It has grown so long I would have to live well into the next century to write a book about each item on the list. Here are some of the latest additions: The Shamrock, The Bensen, The Excelsior, The Monticello, The Peabody, The Jefferson, del Coronado, The Biltmore, and the Crescent. If you haven’t already guessed, the list is made up of hotels—historic hotels—the settings of my Sydney Lockhart Mysteries, which takes places in the early 1950s. The hotels I choose have to still be in operation today.
Once I decide on a location, I give Sydney a reason for being there. This is where my research begins. I like to use an actual historic event to build my plot. For example, my latest mystery, Murder at the Galvez, takes place at the Galvez Hotel in Galveston, Texas. Looking through some old newspapers, I discovered a controversial project involving the development of Pelican Island, a small piece of land once used as on unofficial Confederate fort, complete with fake guns to ward off the enemy had a Civil War battle reached the Texas gulf coast. In the 1950s, the island was the depositary for the dredge from the digging of the Houston Ship Channel until the city decided to develop the island and turn it into a resort. The fictional murder that takes place in the book is associated with the project. In Murder at the Arlington I got a lot of mileage out of the illegal gambling that once took place in Hot Springs, Arkansas. And I couldn’t resist using the Driskill Hotel’s colorful ghost history in my upcoming book, Murder at the Driskill (Austin, Texas).
And finally, to give each story the feeling of authenticity, I have to spend several days or weeks at each hotel, soaking up the ambiance. Like the saying goes, “It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.”
Kathleen writes the Sydney Lockhart Mystery series and the Classic Triviography Mystery Series published by LL-Publications. Her Sherlock Holmes and Alfred Hitchcock trivia books were finalists for the 2013 EPIC Award in nonfiction. Her nonfiction book, The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story, has been nominated for the George Perkins Marsh Award for environmental history.
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