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On Community

Edith here, fresh back from the Wicked Cozy retreat in Old Orchard Beach, and really feeling the love of community – both authorial and local.

All of us Wickeds write mysteries set in reasonably small towns. Jessie and I are diverging from the cozy label with our historical mysteries, but they’re still set in small towns (and mine is really a cozy even though it’s shelved as an historical). I live what is now called a city, because it has a mayor and a city council instead of the selectmen of a town. But Amesbury is one of Massachusetts’s smallest cities, with the most recent population pegged at around 16,000. And I set my Quaker Midwife Mysteries here – in 1888.

So imagine my surprise and delight when the John Greenleaf Whittier Home Association, which maintains the famous abolitionist poet’s home a few blocks from where I live, asked if “it would be all right” if they featured Delivering the Truth as an All-Community Read this summer. They planned to culminate the summer of reading – about Quaker midwife Rose Carroll solving an arson and two murders – with a staged reading of the four scenes in the book where Rose meets with Whittier.

Um, yeah! It would be SO all right, and I told them so. The Amesbury Public Library signed on to co-sponsor the All-Community Read, and my publisher donated twenty copies of the book to the library to put into circulation.

I kicked off the summer of events yesterday with a talk during Amesbury Days at the Art Show about my research for the series. Wednesday I’m repeating my historical walking tour of town in my Quaker dress (see a video of highlights from the first one here). In July the Whittier Home will host a book discussion group, and there will be another one at the library in August.

September 10 will feature the staged reading at the the Amesbury Friends Meetinghouse, with actors portraying Whittier and Rose. I’ll be narrating, tying the scenes together, using a script our local Poet Laureate Lainie Senechal wrote based on the book.

The whole slate of events makes me SO happy.

John Greenleaf Whittier

Then I heard that several Amesbury High School teachers are requiring their students to read the book this summer. They asked if I would be interested in talking to the History Honor Society students and the Early College American Studies classes in the fall.

Um, yeah! Of course I’ll come and talk with  students about history and writing and whatever else they want to talk about. Another teacher recommended the book as a Summer Reading Faculty Favorite.  After I posted a note about these teachers on Facebook, a college teacher in Oklahoma said she’d recommended the book to her Women’s History students.

When I started writing this series, I thought it might appeal to local history buffs and the occasional Quaker, in addition to midwives and fans of historical mysteries. I never dreamed of it going this far, and I’m floating on a cloud.

Now, off to fix several of the twenty buttons on my 1888 plain dress that popped off when I unbuttoned it in April…

Readers, have you ever participated in an All-Community Read? Do you know any high school or college teachers who need a fabulous (ahem…) historical mystery set in the nineteenth century for their students?

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