Monday, March 26, 2012

Castles of my dreams

While our wonderful Kate Collins finishes the last part of writing her manuscript--rewrites, copy edits and even more edits--we are fortunate to have Julie Hyzy, who writes two cozy series, join us for a few weeks. Many of you are probably familiar with her White House Chef series as well as her Manor House Mysteries. We welcome Julie while we await Kate's return. (We do miss our Kate!)

 + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

My family lived in a tiny, two bedroom home on Chicago's south side when I was growing up. It was so small that my parents carved a place to sleep in the basement so that my brother and I could have our own rooms. Mine had no closet and no electrical outlet. To say it was small (both rooms were) would be an understatement. I used to brag (?) that because of my room's odd shape and limited square footage, I could touch two walls from any point in my room. It was true.

I liked to pretend that I lived in a huge home, one so big that it needed an elevator (our front closet served that role nicely). Maybe that's why I used to spend my free time creating floor plans for the homes of my dreams. Not just normal homes -- HUGE homes with five or six levels and at least ten rooms on each. I'd draw pictures of what each room would look like and how it was furnished. I had secret passages and hidden niches. I spent hours at this, imagining the sights, the sounds, the smells.

Over the years, my castle dreams have continued. I've visited the White House, of course (not exactly a castle, but it counts to me), Hearst in California, the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, and in France, the Palace of Versailles and Chateau de Chenonceau, among others. They are all breathtaking spaces... but not one of them compares to the castle in my head, Marshfield Manor.

Grace Among Thieves
Coming June 5th
to a bookstore near you!

Writing the Manor House mysteries is a source of great joy for me -- and I hope some of my excitement comes through for readers. I'm having the time of my life creating the mansion's nooks and crannies, its hidden staircases and glorious furnishings. While visiting the real castles of the world is wonderful research, I like to take what I learn at each of them and make it bigger, brighter, taller, and better furnished, the way I did so many years ago when I was longing for a larger room and a house big enough to get lost in it.

I think, sometimes, kids innately know what they're going to do when they grow up. I was always writing stories and I carried a homemade detective notebook everywhere I went so as to stake out suspicious neighbors. I drew pictures of castles. And here I am, writing mysteries set in mansions. How fun is that? 

Has anything you embraced as a child blossomed into an adult hobby or career?

Oh, and PS - I send out a newsletter about my books every so often - about five or six times a year. If you'd like to be on the mailing list (a new issue is coming out soon), please email me JulieHyzy(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll take care of it! (I never sell or give away your information!) Thanks!