Saturday, October 7, 2017



Chloe Ellefson is excited to be learning about Wisconsin's Cornish immigrants and mining history while on temporary assignment at Pendarvis, a historic site in charming Mineral Point. But when her boyfriend, police officer Roelke McKenna, discovers long-buried human remains in the root cellar of an old Cornish cottage, Chloe reluctantly agrees to mine the historical record for answers.

She soon finds herself in the center of a heated and deadly controversy that threatens to close Pendarvis. While struggling to help the historic site, Chloe must unearth dark secrets, past and present . . . before a killer comes to bury her.


A few of your favorite things: 
I have a lot of mementos from writing-related research trips, anything from a print of an old building to a rock picked up at an historic site. They’re fun to have on my desk when I’m writing, and when the relevant manuscript is completed they bring back happy memories.
Things you need to throw out: 
I’m always behind on filing. I need to go through stacks of paper on my desk, and bulging file folders in my cabinets, with a recycle bag at hand.

Things you need in order to write: 
Uninterrupted time to think, a notebook, index cards, laptop, feline companion, research materials.
Things that hamper your writing: 
Laundry that needs doing, feline companion demanding food, a ringing phone, the need to spend the majority of my time on the business end of things instead of the actual writing

Things you love about writing: 

I love shining a bit of light on people that might otherwise be largely forgotten.  I write about history, and usually focus on everyday people.  When I worked in the museum world it was frustrating to find, for example, a wonderful artifact—but not know who owned or made or used the object.  My fiction lets me explore the lives of people who left no written records behind.
Things you hate about writing:
I really don’t hate anything about actual writing! I have bad days like anyone else, but getting stuck is part of the creative process. What I do hate? Certain aspects of the writing business. The industry can be tough to navigate.

Hardest thing about being a writer: 
I spend more time on the business end of being a writer than I do actually writing.

Easiest thing about being a writer: 
Many of the things I love to do, like reading and exploring wonderful historic sites and museums, are part of my job.  How cool is that?

Things you love about where you live: 
I live just outside Madison, Wisconsin. Madison is a wonderful university town, with lots of good restaurants and arts organizations. I also love the fact that in ten minutes I can be out in the country, enjoying the state’s beautiful natural resources.
Things that make you want to move: 
Increasing traffic, urban sprawl.

Things you never want to run out of: 
Popcorn, peanut butter, fresh fruit (or bags of frozen fruit in the freezer); printer cartridges, notebooks, beguiling books piled on my nightstand. Oh, and cat food. Running out of cat food would be bad.
Things you wish you’d never bought: 
When I was younger I collected antiques.  I’ve reached an age when I’m trying to find a good home for many of them.

Favorite foods: 
For a few weeks a year, my local fruit market carries the most delicious peaches ever grown.  The market is closing, and I’m mourning its demise.
Things that make you want to throw up: 
I’m not a big fan of cooked peas. Peapods are great, and I like split pea soup as long as it’s vegetarian. Cooked peas—especially canned peas—not so much.

Favorite music or song: 
Unlike many authors, I like to listen to music while I write. If possible, I find music that reflects the time or place or cultural group that I’m writing about.
Music that make your ears bleed: 
I’m not sure anything strikes me quite that harshly! I’ll admit that much of the new pop music is not my thing. (Is “pop music” even a phrase anymore?)

Favorite beverage:
The first pumpkin spice latte of the fall. Autumn is my favorite season!

Something that gives you a pickle face:
Beer. Atypical for a Wisconsin resident.

Favorite smell: 
Wood smoke in the fall. Anything baking that includes cinnamon is a close second.

Something that makes you hold your nose: 
Driving past huge industrial farms.

Something you’re really good at:
I once won a blue ribbon in a cross-cut saw competition. I’m a pretty good baker, especially with historic recipes.

Something you’re really bad at: 
Oh, so many to choose from. I can’t parallel park in tight spaces. I also can’t balance a checkbook. Math and I do not get along.

People you consider as heroes: 
Anyone who stirs themselves to actively work for social justice.

People with a big L on their foreheads: 
Anyone who is unkind to other people or the planet.

Last best thing you ate: 
A fresh peach. It was luscious.

Last thing you regret eating: 
I’m actually pretty thoughtful about my diet, so nothing comes to mind.

Things you’d walk a mile for: 
A gorgeous view of the natural world.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: 
Dense crowds, too-loud music.

Things you always put in your books: 
Enough sensory details to provide readers with (I hope) a strong sense of place.

Things you never put in your books: 
Graphic sex or violence.

Things to say to an author: 
I love it when readers tell me they stayed up way too late reading one of my books. I’m humbled and grateful when someone says that a Chloe mystery helped them through chemo or grief or some other challenging time.  

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book:
“You just keep cranking them out, don’t you!”  It’s said with good intentions, but suggests some rote process, which does not well describe what goes into creating a novel! 

Favorite places you’ve been: 
Norway, Switzerland, Scotland, Alaska
Places you never want to go to again: 
I’m not keen on driving through big cities.

Things that make you happy: 
Spending time with family and friends, petting my cat, gardening, hiking, learning about heritage crafts or foodways. I love to dabble in new things, and if I’m working on a book that features ethnic/historic foodways or folk-art, I want to give them a try.

Things that drive you crazy: 
Unkindness—to people, to the planet.

Best thing you’ve ever done: 
Marry my husband.

Biggest mistake: 
Not speaking truth to power. 

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: 
The year I graduated from college, way back in 1981, a friend and I went backpacking on the Appalachian Trail for two months. It was an amazing experience.

Something you chickened out from doing:
In theory I want to jump out of a plane. However, so far I have not found the courage to do so.


Kathleen Ernst is a former museum curator who remains passionate about history! In addition to the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites series, she has written many books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott. The Chloe series has earned a LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards.

Connect with Kathleen:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook 

Buy the book:
Indiebound  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Books-A-Million  |  Amazon