Questions for the Author of Breaking Ground
Q: Has your main character, Julie Williamson, changed at all since your first book, Stealing History, and if so, how?
A: Julie’s gotten more self-confident, more sure of herself, more willing to lead. This makes her a stronger director and more able to deal with the trustees and other Ryland people. But it has some implications for her relationship with Rich O’Brian that are touched on a bit in Breaking Ground and will become more apparent in the third book of the series.
Q: If Julie wasn’t the director of a historical society what would she be?
A: A cop. She’d probably deny that and claim she’s really an historian, but I think she’s too interested in people to spend her time doing research about the past.
Q: Why/How did you decide to make old land deeds and property disputes the focus of this mystery?
A: As a student of colonial America, I’ve always been struck by the fact that much of our country’s early life revolved around land and the effort, by both individuals and the government, to get more of it. That led to disputes and controversies since the first European settlers landed. So the role of land in Breaking Ground is really very typically American, and I like playing with that theme in the context of a contemporary murder mystery.
Q: Julie likes puzzles of all kinds. Do you?
A: The only conventional puzzles I try are the ones on NPR’s “Car Talk,” mainly because I like cars. The puzzle that interests me most is why people do what they do, so in that sense I’m like Julie–and anyone who tries to write fiction.
Q: Do any people you know turn up, or serve as an inspiration for, characters in Breaking Ground?
A: Some of my friends swear either they or someone they know are models for one or another character, but I can honestly say no single character is based on any single individual I know. The characters in Breaking Ground are composites, put together from traits and quirks I notice in various individuals. For example, some people I’ve worked with are convinced that Mrs. Detweiller, Julie’s secretary, is “just like” so-and-so that we used to know, but she’s really an amalgamation of characteristics from a number of folks, not all of them secretaries.