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Author Interviews: Joan Hess, 09/04/96

Joan Hess started writing as a lark. “In the early 1980s, a friend convinced me to try to write romance novels,” she said, “and I discovered I loved writing fiction.” Unfortunately, she also discovered that she was a dismal romance writer. “Too much plot,” she said, “not enough romance.” The experiment wasn’t a complete failure, but the going was rough. She made an early sale to Harlequin, but then she ran into trouble. “Ten manuscripts and three agents later,” Hess said, “I became a tad discouraged. I was planning to go back to graduate school when my agent suggested I

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Dancing With Truth

I recall no feelings of surprise when my afternoon kindergarten teacher, Miss Miraldi, knocked on our front door. After all, I didn’t know it was unusual. While she talked to my mother, I most likely petted my cat, Admiral Purry. Or maybe I enjoyed some Neapolitan wafer cookies with milk, although that’s a snack I typically ate while in kindergarten, not during an unprecedented home visit from my teacher. At the time, I didn’t understand the visit’s point. Later on, though, I overheard my mother telling her friend that Miss Miraldi said I didn’t do well on my pre-screening tests.

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Lament of Wells Waite Miller

Note: I am doing a deep dive into the life of Wells Waite Miller, a largely forgotten Civil War hero, researching and writing his biography. Not too long ago, I was asked to theoretically consider how he might feel about the process. This tongue-in-cheek essay is the result! For the past two years, seven months, and odd number of days, I’ve found myself pondering the following question: Was it worth almost dying on the blood-soaked fields of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863 to potentially have my biography written and published? I say “potentially” because Kelly means well and she does

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Life Echoes

I love randomly visiting old cemeteries, even the one where a poisonous spider glared at me from a nearby tombstone. I’d planned a weekend trip for my husband and our two young history-loving sons where we’d visit the home of President Ulysses S. Grant in Point Pleasant, Ohio. Unfortunately, I’d inadvertently made hotel reservations at—and gotten a TripTik to—Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

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Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple Series

Miss Jane Marple appears in 12 books and 20 short stories over a period of about 50 years. I was invited to write an encyclopedia entry on Agatha Christie’s amateur detective, Miss Jane Marple — and, as a huge fan, I was thrilled. And . . . the encyclopedia project got canceled. So, I thought I would share what I wrote here, with sub-headlines added. Who is Jane Marple? Jane Marple is a fictional character created by English mystery novelist Agatha Christie. She appears in twelve books and twenty short stories, starting in approximately 1926 and lasting through 1976; the

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Historical Short Story: Digging Deep

This short story is posted in honor of and as a tribute to a former neighbor of mine who survived multiple Nazi bombings in London during World War II. She is the character of Viola (her real first name) and the snippet about her is historically accurate. Thank you for your service! I’ve been living with Uncle Reggie and Auntie Sal for about six weeks now and, even though I don’t like it when the windows shake from the bombing in the city or when the wind shifts and I smell gunpowder, I’m not waking up at night as much

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