A Wicked Welcome to Barbara Schlichting. Barb and I knew each other from the Guppies, and from Facebook, but we got to visit in person a couple of times this year, first at Left Coast Crime in February, and then at Malice Domestic in May. She sat at my table during the Agatha Banquet, and I was so glad that she did. She is funny, kind, and wicked excited about her publishing debut.
I’m thrilled to welcome her to the blog today, and hear more about the path she followed to write her new First Lady Mystery series.
Whatever made me think of writing about the First Ladies, let alone come up with a mystery surrounding them? How could an item that was lost over two-hundred years ago become a modern day mystery? I used my imagination.
I’ve always loved American history. The early years of our republic were colorful. How could the First Ladies manage? They needed recognition and praise. I got a ‘bee’ in my ‘bonnet’ and decided it was time for me to write the living First Ladies and request a picture plus an autograph. It should be easy. At the time, it seemed like it should be an easy task. I thought of a few options. My first thought was to send a letter requesting an autograph. I slid a self-stamped addressed envelope inside of the letter. Before you knew it, First Lady Rosalynn Carter sent me a photo plus her signature. I was elated. I never expected that. My letters were returned from the two First Lady Bush’s. I stepped up my request by asking for a picture plus the signature, found another address for First Ladies Laura and Barbara Bush and Hillary Clinton. Since Mrs. Reagan hadn’t responded, I sent another letter to the same address. All total there were at least four letters of request sent to each First Lady. Eventually I received a beautiful picture of Barbara Bush of which she personally autographed in calligraphy as well as a letter. Laura Bush sent a signed picture. Nancy Reagan sent a photo of her and the president. Hillary Clinton was a bit of a challenge because she was Secretary of State at the time and hard to track down. Eventually I received three photos of Mrs. Clinton: First Lady, Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, and as Secretary of State.
Then one day, I thought our mailman was going to have a heart attack. He honked his horn all the way down the driveway, jumped from the car, and raced to our door waving a large yellow envelope and shouting, “The White House! The White House! You have a letter from the White House!”
Indeed. Enclosed was a letter on White House stationary from First Lady Michelle Obama with her signature plus a signed photo.
I had a relationship with the First Ladies.
It was my duty to shine the light on our beloved First Ladies. The question I asked myself was; who was my favorite?
Dolley Madison was at the top of the list. I loved that she climbed up on the roof of the White House with a spy glass and watched for the British soldiers. She chewed tobacco. Imbibed a bit too much. Had a parakeet or parrot, and probably talked to it plus wore a turban with bird flowers. She was a real person. She loved everyone. There had to be a mystery surrounding her, right?
The title of the Star Spangled Banner easily translated to THE BLOOD SPANGLED BANNER, and my first book was born. I always felt sorry for Mary Lincoln. I thought she got a bum-rap from the press after her husband was assassinated. What horrible circumstances she had to live through. When I discovered that Mr. Lincoln gave a speech called, ‘the lost speech’, I had my hook. Couldn’t Mary have hidden it? WORDS CAN KILL will also be published at the end of the summer by Darkhouse Books.
Barbara Schlichting was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota where her First Ladies Mystery Series is set. Barbara graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1970. Later, she and her husband moved their family to Bemidji. She attended Bemidji State University where she earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in elementary education and special education. Barbara has been married for forty-four years and has two grown sons who have blessed her with five grandchildren and one great grandson. Barbara has been known to travel too much, and read while not paying attention to her husband. However she has had an English penpal for over fifty years.