Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kansas-Colorado Connection—forever linked in history by Charlotte Hinger, Guest Blogger

It is my pleasure to introduce today's guest, Charlotte Hinger, a Western Kansas historian who is using her knowledge and background to write fiction. Her first novel, Deadly Descent, was inspired by a childhood listening to the natural born liars in her small community of Lone Elm, Kansas, and the mesmerizing “rest of the stories” whispered behind closed doors when she edited over 500 family submissions for county history books.


Kansas-Colorado Connection—forever linked in history by Charlotte Hinger, Guest Blogger

I’m a native Kansan with a flaming state loyalty. I moved to Colorado after my husband died, because I have three daughters on the Front Range and my only blood kin was in Eastern Kansas. But I yearned for the endless prairies of Western Kansas. Then a friend, who is also a historian, reminded me that Colorado was once part of Kansas.

Yes! That’s all it took to settle my mind. In territorial days, the Territory of Kansas cut a wide swath through an area that now includes Denver, and an impressive chunk of the Front Range. Kansas has never been a peaceful state. Ten different men served as governor of the Kansas Territory and no one was more frustrated with the chaos of Kansas politics than James W. Denver. The city of Denver was named after this man. He wrote his wife that if he could get rid of Kansas he vowed “never to put my foot inside of their territory again.” He added “it requires all the powers conferred on me by the President to prevent them from cutting each other’s throats.”

So when people ask me where I get my ideas—in all honesty, the state bristles with stories. A famous historian once said that whatever was going to happen in America, happened first in Kansas.

The Lottie Albright mystery series, published by Poisoned Pen Press, is set in Western Kansas. I’m also a historian and am completing an academic book about 19th century Kansas African American politicians and their effect on the settlement of the West. Lethal Lineage, the second mystery, was just released. The murderous tensions within families provides intrigue. Twin sisters, Lottie and Josie Albright (a historian and a psychologist) become allies against common enemies on the plains. Lottie’s much older husband, Keith Fiene, would love to see his wife back in the ivory tower of historical research. But Lottie is drawn into an additional career as deputy, then undersheriff of Carlton County. She is drawn into deadly confrontations with other sheriffs, ranchers, historians, stepchildren, outsiders, and thrown into a stew seasoned with murder. The past is always present, and murderous people set in a state referred to as “Bleeding Kansas” from its violent beginning with border wars before the Civil War is the perfect setting for families up to no good.

Lethal Lineage begins in the tiny Episcopal Church of St. Helena, centered exactly on the corners of four counties in Western Kansas. The location was determined with a protractor and required the diplomatic skills used to divide up territory after World War 1. The first service, confirming Lottie’s and Josie’s niece, should have been a celebratory day. This is first time Lottie has seen her friend Mary Farnsworth in vestments. Mary is obviously distraught when she comes down the aisle. But from the moment a sinister bishop shows up and devastates the congregation with a blistering sermon, the event is doomed. The day ends in murder. Lottie soon becomes ensnared by this smoldering bishop with unexpected links to a wicked family dynasty bent on destruction.


Charlotte has published a number of mystery short stories. Simon and Schuster published her historical novel, Come Spring, which won the Western Writers of America Medicine Pipe Award. Convinced that mystery writing and historical investigation go hand to hand, she applies her MA in history to academic articles and her wicked and depraved imagination to murder most foul.

Deadly Descent received a Kirkus Starred Review and was winner of the 2010 AZ Book Publishers Award for Best Mystery/Suspense.

You can find out more about Charlotte and her books at her website, and her blog about Kansas, writing and publishing, Bleeding Kansas.


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting Charlotte.

Charlotte - Oh, now I feel silly forgetting that Colorado was once a part of Kansas Territory! But I really do love history and historical novels, and I can completely understand how you've been captured by those old stories. I'm that way, too, although I don't write historical fiction. I wish you much success with Lethal Lineage.

Monti said...

I am completely fascinated with the West. How the settlers managed and what happened in those far-away from Virginia territories makes for wonderful reading. Good luck with all your research and historical writing both fiction and non-fiction!


Morgan Mandel said...

I love twin stories. And the fact the mystery begins in a church makes it all the more unusual and deadly.

Morgan Mandel

Mason Canyon said...

Charlotte, this sounds so intriguing. If history was taught like this in school it would grab the students' attention quicker. Wishing you much success with your writing.

Patricia, thanks for introducing me to a 'new to me' author and an interesting new series.

Thoughts in Progress

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good morning, everyone. I enjoy tracking down interesting writers like Charlotte to guest post here. I'm working on filling up the summer guests spots, so if you know of someone with a new release scheduled over the next few months, be sure to let me know.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Thanks, Monti--I love research a little too much. I have to keep a firm hand on my desire to inject too much history into novels.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Hi Margot--thank you for the good wishes. I'm thrilled to discover that so many readers are interested in Kansas.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Hi Morgan--I consulted four priests for Lethal Lineage. Coordinating historical and contemporary Catholic and Episcopal usage was a real challenge and simultaneously one of my favorite parts of the book.

Cricket McRae said...

Charlotte, I love that you incorporate so much history into your novels -- it's fun to learn while reading fiction. Best of luck with your new release.

Pat, thanks for bringing Charlotte to your blog. It's also good to hear the problem with your kitten has been identified at last.

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like a terrific story! :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Charlotte, thanks again for being my guest today. I hope you'll come back again when your next book comes out.

Jenny said...

Charlotte, I'm so happy to be introduced to your work. I am a Colorado native but I have family connections in KS, including western KS. I'm going to visit your blog and find out more!

Betty Craker Henderson said...

Hi, Charlotte, I'm really glad Patricia chose to have you on her website. I've missed coming to WWA the past few responsibilities have been in the way but it seems as if a part of me is with all of you each time the group gathers. Congratulations on this recent book. I enjoyed reading about it!

Charlotte Hinger said...

Betty, I remember you well. I'm looking forward to going to ND this year. Had to miss the convention last year.

Patricia--it was a pleasure to guest post on your blog. Thank you so much. I would like to extend a special invitation to Patricia's followers to click onto and become a follower and eligible for the drawing the 1st of every month for a copy of Lethal Lineage.