Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday Promo- Kathleen Ernst

I’m grateful to Paty for allowing me to visit. And I’m grateful to readers! I love my work, and I’d be nowhere without you. Leave a comment here and your name will go into a daily drawing for one free book. The winner can choose any of my sixteen titles. Old World Murder, one of my American Girl mysteries, a Civil War novel—the choice will be yours!

What drew you to the topic of murder?
I’ve actually circled back to the mystery genre. I loved mysteries as a child, but later read straight historical fiction almost exclusively. My first published novels were for young readers, and one day an editor from American Girl called and asked if I’d like to try writing an historical mystery for a new series they were developing, called History Mysteries. I wrote three books for that series, and went on to write five more historical mysteries about different American Girl characters.

During the years I was writing kids’ mysteries, I began reading adult mysteries, and discovered what I was missing! The books I admired most (whether contemporary or historical) layered a wonderful puzzle with compelling characters and themes that often tackled complex social issues.

So just for fun, I began writing Old World Murder. The book is set at a large historic site called Old World Wisconsin, where I was a curator for over a decade. Historic sites can be idyllic places to visit. They are also chronically underfunded, and as rife with internal problems as any other workplace. I plan to get my protagonist, curator Chloe Ellefson, to a variety of historic sites as the series progresses. My first goal, of course, is simply to offer a good read! But along the way, I hope to shine a little light on some issues that readers might not have considered.

What was the first thing you ever wrote?

The first serious story I wrote was a Civil War novella called The Other Side of the Line. It dealt with a theme I’ve returned to in several of my published novels—the difficulty of neatly labeling individuals as Right or Wrong, Friend or Enemy, during times of war.

I wrote my first full-length novel when I was fifteen, and wrote ten or twelve more before landing my first book contract! During those years I gained confidence, practiced writing, learned about the industry, and started gaining credits as a magazine freelancer. My first published book was a young adult, and that launched me into the J/YA market. I also published one adult nonfiction work, Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Battle of Antietam.

So launching Old World Murder, first of the Chloe Ellefson/Historic Sites mysteries, completes another circle—bringing me back to writing novels for adults. I’m having great fun!

What are you working on now?
I just finished a solid working draft of the sequel to Old World Murder. Deadly as Diamonds will be out next October, and I’ll be busy with revisions for a while. And ideas for book 3 in the Chloe Ellefson/Historic Sites series are simmering now.

I also continue to work with American Girl. My next children’s book will be published in 2012.

It can be challenging to juggle both projects, but it’s also enjoyable. And when I need a total break, I write poetry. I love having a small project, such as a single poem, to work on when novel writing feels overwhelming. And poetry provides wonderful practice with language, imagery, and story.

Kathleen Ernst is celebrating the publication of her first adult mystery, Old World Murder (Midnight Ink). She has also written eight mysteries for young readers. Several have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards. For more information see her website,, or her blog,

You can buy the book at your local independent bookseller, the major chains, or from online stores.


Helen Hardt said...

Great to meet you, Kathleen!

Kathleen Ernst said...

Thanks for stopping by, Helen!

traveler said...

This captivating mystery novel with its appealing characters and locale sounds extraordinary. Congratulations on the release.

She said...

Congrats on your work. Old World Mystery sounds good. I love a good mystery.

Cherie Le Clare said...

I've enjoyed reading about your writing, Paty, and I like your choice of title for your new book 'Deadly as Diamonds' - sounds intriguing!
I often seem to include a bit of mystery in my historical romances and other books even though I'm not strictly targeting that genre.
All best,
Cherie Le Clare.
Author of French Kiss.

Cherie Le Clare said...

Oops - I meant to address my comments to Kathleen!

Kathleen Ernst said...

Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate the opportunity to visit.

And the winner of the book drawing is...Helen! Helen, please email me at k.ernst -at- and we'll make the arrangements.