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becke_davis
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Guest Blog by Author Katherine Hall Page

Today our guest blogger is author KATHERINE HALL PAGE, who visited with us about a year ago:  http://bit.ly/hoOt1V

 

She also wrote a blog during our Agatha Christie celebration last September: http://bit.ly/fnTlqG

 

This time around, Katherine's blog is about "Putting the Puzzle Together." Enjoy!

 

Katherine Hall Page poses for her readers

 

Katherine Hall Page, Agatha Award-winning mystery novelist

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becke_davis
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Katherine Hall Page

 

 

Katherine Hall Page was born and grew up in New Jersey, graduating from Livingston High School. Her father was the Executive Director of The Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation and her mother was an artist. Page has an older brother and a younger sister. Early on the family developed a love of the Maine coast, spending summer vacations on Deer Isle. She received her BA from Wellesley College, majoring in English and went on to a Masters in Secondary Education from Tufts and a Doctorate in Administration, Public Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard. College had brought her to Massachusetts and she continues to reside there.

 

Before her career as a full-time writer, Ms. Page taught at the high school level for many years. She developed a program for adolescents with special emotional needs, a school within a school model, that dealt with issues of truancy, substance abuse, and family relationships. Those five years in particular were rich ones for her. This interest in individuals and human behavior later informed her writing.

 

Married for thirty-five years to Professor Alan Hein, an experimental psychologist at MIT, the couple have a twenty-seven-year-old son. It was during her husband's sabbatical year in France after the birth of their son that Ms. Page wrote her first mystery, The Body in the Belfry, 1991 Agatha Award winner for Best First Mystery Novel. The fifteenth in the series, The Body in the Snowdrift , won the 2006 Agatha Award for Best Mystery Novel.

 

Ms. Page was also awarded the 2001 Agatha for Best Short Story for "The Would-Be Widower" in the Malice Domestic X collection (Avon Books). She was an Edgar nominee for her juvenile mystery, Christie & Company Down EastThe Body in the Bonfire was an Agatha nominee in 2003. Page's short story, "The Two Mary's" was an Agatha nominee in 2004. The Body in the Lighthouse (2003) was one of three nominees for The Mary Higgins Clark Award. The nineteenth in the series, The Body in the Gazebo, will be published by William Morrow in April, 2011.

 

Descended from Norwegian-Americans on her mother's side and New Englanders on her father's, Ms. Page grew up listening to all sorts of stories. She remains an unabashed eavesdropper and will even watch your slides or home movies to hear your narration. Her books are the product of all the strands of her life and she plans to keep weaving.

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[ Edited ]

 

 

The Body in the Gazebo (Faith Fairchild Series #19) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

 

"I have to tell you something . . . something that happened a long time ago."

 

When Ursula Lyman Rowe speaks these words to Faith Fairchild from her sickbed in Aleford, Massachusetts, Faith has no idea what lies in store for her.

 

It all starts when Ursula's daughter, Pix Miller, Faith's best friend and neighbor, leaves town for her son's wedding. Pix knows Faith and her husband, the Reverend Thomas Fairchild, will keep an eye on the slowly recovering Ursula. But what she and Faith don't know is that the tale Ursula spins over the course of several weeks will reveal an unsolved crime dating back to 1929 and the Great Depression.

 

Meanwhile, more current mysteries are brewing. The dis-cretionary fund at the church has been pilfered and the Reverend Fairchild is the only person with access to it. And, when Pix meets her in-laws-to-be for the first time, she's in for the surprise of her life. . . .

 

 

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Putting the Puzzle Together


By Katherine Hall Page

 

The Body in the Gazebo is a book that I’ve been thinking about for some time, visiting it in my mind until the various pieces took shape and I decided how I wanted to put them together to tell this particular story. Madeleine L’Engle, one of my favorite authors, described the writing process as taking dictation from her imagination and it’s a wonderful portrayal of what we do. The pieces, in this case, were a current problem Faith Fairchild faces concerning her husband Tom and his parish; a return to the past; and one more piece in the present that focuses on Faith’s friend and neighbor Pix Miller.

 

 

The Body in the Ivy (Faith Fairchild Series #16)

 

 

 

 

In The Body in the Attic and The Body in the Ivy I moved between past and present with Shakespeare in mind—“What’s past is prologue” (The Tempest)—to describe how a long ago dark crime may still resonant many decades later. In those two books, as in The Body in the Gazebo, Faith has to uncover the truth in order for justice to prevail. This notion is at the heart of the traditional mystery—the restoration of order at the end.

 

I realized that the best way to tell the part of the story set in the past was to have an eyewitness describe what she had seen during one fateful summer on Martha’s Vineyard in 1929 when she was young, a wise and observant child now seeking the whole truth as she nears the end of her life.

 

 

The Body in the Basement (Faith Fairchild Series #6)

 

 

 

Ursula Lyman Rowe has appeared in earlier books, notably The Body in the Basement, where she solves a crime with her daughter, Pix Miller, and granddaughter, Samantha. I liked the idea of three generations of women each bringing a different perspective to the deadly puzzle confronting them.

 

 

The Body in the Gazebo (Faith Fairchild Series #19)

 

 

 

Now in The Body in the Gazebo, Ursula takes center stage as she relates what happened to Faith, her dear friend and the wife of her minister. Faith’s curiosity is aroused not only by Ursula’s request that she not reveal what she is about to say to her daughter Pix, but also by Ursula’s words, “When we get to the end, I will need your help.”

 

As I wrote I came to regard Ursula’s voice as a kind of Yankee Scheherazade and tried to set her story against a backdrop of history. She starts by telling Faith: “My story has a number of pieces, which will come together at the end.

 

Just now with this piece, I’m trying to give you a sense of what it was like in Boston—for my parents and for me. They grew up in another century and the changes the Twentieth brought were rapid and must have been bewildering to them at times. Especially the changes during the 1920s. I’ve often thought this was the beginning of the notion of a generation gap. Young people in the Jazz Age were so very different from the kinds of young people their parents had been in what was still the Victorian Age. Maybe it’s a little like Samantha and her cell phone—all this new technology. We had ‘Talkies’ and Lucky Lindy flying across the Atlantic. Pix thinks Samantha’s frocks belong in the rag pile and the flapper’s mothers must have thought the same way.

 

Despite everything that was going on around me, though, as a little girl, my day-to-day life wasn’t so far removed from that of my mother’s growing up.

 

“We skated on the Frog Pond on the Boston Common in the winter and the arrival of the swan boats in the Public Garden was the first sign of spring for us, along with snow drops in Louisburg Square. My brother and his friends sculled on the Charles River straight through until late autumn when the water started to freeze.”

 

Along the way, I became fascinated by the research I was doing into the Depression Years and facts I had not known about Boston and Martha’s Vineyard history. In particular, I had never been acquainted with Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language, which developed in the early 18th century due to the extremely high percentage of hereditary deafness there and continued to be used by hearing and deaf individuals alike until the early 1950’s. It became a plot element, as did the 1851 Charles Street Jail in Boston, now an upscale hotel, The Liberty, with an Alibi Bar and restaurants, “Clink” and “Scampo”. I never enter the towering atrium, now the lobby, without thinking of the cells that led off the balconies and the suffering these stones witnessed—notably Sacco and Vanzetti’s.

 

 

The Body in the Bonfire (Faith Fairchild Series #12)

 

 

 

Ursula’s story involves a false accusation and is mirrored in the present day when a large sum of money from the Minister’s Discretionary Fund goes missing—a fund to which only the Reverend Thomas Fairchild has access. Faith, with the help of her computer savvy buddy Zach Cummings from The Body in the Bonfire, tracks down the real embezzlers.

 

And down in South Carolina Pix Miller is meeting her future in-laws at a bonding vacation in Hilton Head followed by a visit to their home in Charleston where she has discovered that she already “knows” son Mark’s future father-in-law, “knows” in the Biblical sense from a college romance many years earlier!

 

A large piece of the puzzle is geographic, prompted by the desire to write about places I love—in this case Martha’s Vineyard, South Carolina, Boston, and always, “Aleford”. Place as character has become a major element as the series has progressed.

 

Of course there is plenty of food here too—a Low Country boil, a Friends of the Library fundraiser dessert buffet, and a scrumptious engagement party on top of a lighthouse. In the recipe section readers will enjoy a sinful one for Rum Cake and an easy (and impressive) one for Baked Chicken with Red Wine, Sage, and Root Vegetables.

 

When I speak to groups, and they range in age from nine to ninety, I always note that I have work that I love. Many thanks, dear readers.

 

Be sure to check out the contest on Katherine's website! Here's the link: 

http://www.katherine-hall-page.org/contest.php

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dhaupt
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Re: Guest Blog by Author Katherine Hall Page

thanks for stopping by Katherine, I've enjoyed several books in your series.

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Re: Guest Blog by Author Katherine Hall Page

[ Edited ]

Debbie - You may remember Katherine's previous visits here. Like me, she's a big Agatha Christie fan, and her book THE BODY IN THE IVY is a particular favorite of mine. 

 

I've started reading The Body in the Gazebo - another good one!

 

 

The Body in the Gazebo (Faith Fairchild Series #19)

 

 

 

The Body in the Ivy (Faith Fairchild Series #16)

 

 

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Fricka
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Re: Guest Blog by Author Katherine Hall Page

Yes, thanks for joining us here, Katherine. I enjoyed reading your blog, and I remember the one you wrote on Agatha Christie, during our celebration of Dame Agatha. Nice work.

 

I'm looking forward to reading The Body in the Gazebo.

" A murder mystery is the normal recreation of the noble mind."--Sister Carol Anne O' Marie
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Re: Guest Blog by Author Katherine Hall Page

 


Fricka wrote:

Yes, thanks for joining us here, Katherine. I enjoyed reading your blog, and I remember the one you wrote on Agatha Christie, during our celebration of Dame Agatha. Nice work.

 

I'm looking forward to reading The Body in the Gazebo.


I love the title! I have a thing about gazebos - there's a gazebo on the cover of Carolyn Hart's latest Death on Demand book, too!

 

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maxcat
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Re: Guest Blog by Author Katherine Hall Page

What a wonderful blog, Katherine. I've enjoyed your books over the years and really liked all of them. Thanks for stopping by to give us an insite on how books are put together to form the mystery.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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leisure_reader
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Re: Guest Blog by Author Katherine Hall Page

Welcome Katherine.

 

It looks like you have a great "body" of work!  :smileywink:

 

I will be adding to my pile of books-again.  Looking at the covers from the Christie Company series-all I could think of was Nancy Drew. 

 

J

 

 

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

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eadieburke
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Re: Guest Blog by Author Katherine Hall Page

Welcome Katherine:

 

I just finished your book, THE BODY IN THE ATTIC. I really enjoyed it very much and will definitely be reading the rest of your books. I also enjoyed Faith's recipes and her inquisitive nature which makes for a super sleuth!

Eadie - A day out-of-doors, someone I loved to talk with, a good book and some simple food and music -- that would be rest. - Eleanor Roosevelt
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TiggerBear
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Re: Guest Blog by Author Katherine Hall Page

What an interesting look into your thinking during writing. Thank you for joining us and sharing that Ms. Page!

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becke_davis
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Re: Guest Blog by Author Katherine Hall Page

Katherine is trying to join us, but the computer gnomes have attacked her sign in. She IS reading your comments. I appreciate Katherine's persistence!