When I wrote Coming Up Murder, I knew I wanted to involve Shakespeare, so I created a Shakespeare Festival on campus. Shakespeare’s First Folio is on tour, and Copper Bluff is one of its lucky stops. Or not so lucky for one presenter. The presenter claims, in a room full of Shakespeare scholars, that Shakespeare…

Read More

“But there was something else here that was not anywhere else. It was an enormous stillness that made you feel still. And when you were still, you could feel great stillness coming closer.” This is the description Laura Ingalls Wilder gives as her family crosses Dakota Territory, driving toward Silver Lake in De Smet, South…

Read More

If I’m not reading a mystery or romance, I’m reading a biography. I like biographies because they’re a lot like mysteries. Questions—and sometimes secrets—drive the story. When it comes to Agatha Christie, I’ve read various accounts. I’ve read her autobiography and two or three biographies. My favorite work is Come, Tell Me How You Live.…

Read More

I learn a lot about myself when I go to conferences. At Malice Domestic, I learned I might be the only person in the United States who hasn’t had Chick-fil-A. I admit, I sort of cringed when my wide-eyed lunch partner asked, “You’ve never had Chick-fil-A?” (which I spelled Chick Fillet until a couple of seconds…

Read More

So many stories surround the Irish: luck, gold, rainbows. My grandma was Irish, and for years, her story has fascinated me. As a young woman, she went to the University of South Dakota. It was rare for a woman from a farming family to attend college in the early twentieth century, yet she received her…

Read More

On November 17, 1973, five teenagers went to Gitchie Manitou State Park, which is located on the South Dakota/Iowa border. Ranging in ages 13-18, they were looking forward to a night of conversation, music, and fun. Three men with guns soon appeared, posing as police officers. But they weren’t the police. They were brothers, and…

Read More

Do you like Christmas letters? I do. But I know a lot of people don’t. They see them as permission slips to brag about … well, everything. Family, jobs, pets, vacations—if something great happened, chances are it will be covered in the Christmas letter. The past couple years, I’ve seen fewer Christmas letters, and some…

Read More

Writing is a solitary act. What happens between a writer and the page is personal. My kids tease me about going down the rabbit’s hole when I go downstairs to write, but it’s a pretty accurate description. With each step, the real world recedes. The laundry disappears, the grading disappears, the grocery list disappears. Copper…

Read More

Every semester, I tell my students how important school is, yet sometimes my words fall on deaf ears. I state it as strongly as possible: college can change your life. But for students who’ve always known college was in their future, it’s hard for them to understand. For me, it was much easier. I graduated from…

Read More