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Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Kathleen Ernst is the author of fourteen historical novels for young readers and the Chloe Ellefson mysteries (Midnight Ink.)  The second Chloe book, The Heirloom Murders, will be released on September 1st.  She invites you to visit her blog, www.sitesandstories.wordpress.com, to follow her meanderings through the intersection of history and fiction.  See her website, www.kathleenernst.com, for more information about her books. Today Kathleen is here to talk about road trips, and she's also giving away a copy of one of her books. Read on to learn more. -- AP

Hitting the Road

If asked to name a guilty pleasure, I wouldn’t name smoking, drinking, or ice cream—even though Wisconsin, where I live, has fantastic ice cream.  My vice?  Road trips.  (I do at least drive a hybrid car.)

Since I earn my living as a writer, I travel to bookstores, libraries, schools, and conferences on a regular basis.  And since most of my work is either historical fiction or fiction that somehow pertains to the past, I add research trips to the mix.  You get the picture.  

Over the years I’ve learned that there are two kinds of road-trippers.

Some people simply want to get from Point A to Point B, as quickly as possible.  Me, I’m a meanderer.  I love to take back roads, poking around new areas.  I always try to schedule extra time into any road trip so I can pull over if something catches my eye.

I’m a sucker for those historical markers that lots of states sprinkle along their back roads.  I also love little community museums—the kind that don’t get a lot of attention, but exist due to the loving care of dedicated volunteers.

Meandering also means I have permission to stop for the unexpected encounter.  Once my husband and I stumbled over a strawberry feast being sponsored by a local historical society.  Inside a magnificent old building, an elderly woman played WWI-era tunes on an upright piano while guests gobbled shortcake.  More recently we chatted with the man painting the mural below, his small town’s tribute to all veterans.

This kind of travel is fun.  It also provides constant fodder for my novelist brain.  The protagonist of my Chloe Ellefson mysteries is curator at an historic site.  She loves exploring as much as I do.  Each book in the series will feature some new museum or site or historic theme.  I get to do the travel and research that makes that possible.  Am I lucky, or what?
How about you?  Are you a meanderer, or a straight-line traveler?  What’s been your favorite back roads discovery?

I’m grateful to Anastasia for allowing me to celebrate publication of The Heirloom Murders:  A Chloe Ellefson Mystery by guest-posting here.  And I’m grateful to readers!  I love my work, and I’d be nowhere without you.  Leave a comment, and your name will go into a drawing for a free book.  The winner can choose any of my seventeen titles.  The Heirloom Murders, one of my American Girl mysteries, a Civil War novel—the choice will be yours!  To learn more, please visit my website,www.kathleenernst.com.

Thanks for joining us today, Kathleen. You've given me the urge to ramble. Now if gas prices would only come back down... Readers, would you like a copy of one of Kathleen's books? Post a comment to enter the drawing. -- AP


Ilona Fridl said...

I so can relate to the research, as you know. Wishing you great success on your new book! Take care, my friend.

RuthAnn said...

I just discovered your adult books this summer and have started reading Heirloom Murders. I love Old World Wisconsin!

Anonymous said...

Kathleen, you sound interesting! I hope to read one of your books soon.

-Theresa de Valence

Kathleen Ernst said...

Ilona - Thanks! And I know you love to explore as much as I do. I hope your next project is already well underway!

Theresa - I appreciate you stopping by!

Anonymous said...

I think we're soul mates. We avoid Interstates and main highways at all cost. My favorite find was on a back road in Texas it was getting dark and no town in sight. Then we came upon a little motel with cars parked every which way and hunters milling about.
They not only let us rent a room, they sent us down the road to where an elderly gentleman was cooking catfish, hush puppies and french fries in outdoor vats and serving to all comers for a few dollars. We not only had a wonderful time with all those friendly folks, we had a delicious meal under the stars and stayed in a motel that dated back to the Fifties instead of sleeping in our car.
I enjoyed your post so much, Kathleen.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Oh Velda, we obviously are kindred souls! I love the story of your adventure in Texas--what serendipity. Thanks for sharing!

Alice Trego said...

I am definitely a meanderer, Kathleen. Would love to have the chance to travel with you as it sounds like you go places where I would go :)

My hubby was always a straight-line traveler, though. I eventually talked him into taking some "alternate routes" last year on our way to Missouri. We stopped here and there, getting an education wherever we happened to be -- the local Craig, CO, museum; Fort Larned, KS; Harry Truman's boyhood home; Laura Ingalls Wilder's home; Willa Cather's home in Red Cloud, NE, and the Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, NE. This is where we learned that my husband's family was indeed part of the first homesteaders.

He had to admit that he enjoyed himself on that trip. It was the only time he became a meanderer before he passed away earlier this year.

Yes, I'm a meanderer. Thanks for sharing your stories, Kathleen, and thanks to AP for having you here :)


Liz V. said...

Best wishes for success of The Heirloom Murders.

I too love those historical markers. Just wish the lands they mark weren't under such threat.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Alice - I'm so glad that you and your husband had at least one good meander before he passed away. What special memories those must be. And oh my, yes--wouldn't we have a good time on the road?

Liz - thanks for the kind words. I know what you mean about the ever-present threat to historical areas and buildings. I'm grateful to anyone who has ever helped protect and preserve one of these treasures.

Cathy Shouse said...

Many years ago, my husband and I visited the Biltmore and on the way home to Indiana, we stumbled on the home of Carl Sandburg. It was fabulous because the interior of the house had been left alone. There were books on every surface! His wife raised goats. The property was interesting to view. I've always wanted to go back. I assume the home is still open for visitors. If you haven't been there, put it on your list. I'd love to win a book.

Heidiwriter said...

Meandering is a nice way to travel, Kathleen. It seems like I am always in a hurry to get somewhere! Time to stop and smell the roses :)

Kathleen Ernst said...

Cathy, thanks for the suggestion. I've never been to Sandburg's home, and it is now indeed on my list! There's something special about author homes...I recently returned from a trip to see the house where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote many of her tales. Very special.

Heidi, thanks for stopping by. I'm too often in a hurry myself these days, but when possible, it is nice to schedule in some extra time on a road trip!