Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Proceed with Caution

Many of the most loved cozy mysteries are historicals. It's not hard to figure out why--everyone from the past is dead!

And where there is a death, there is a potential mystery.

Of course that could just be my mystery-writer brain hard at work.

If you spend any time over at ancestry.com (and why wouldn't you?!) you will have run head-first into many a historical mystery already. One simple example is that census records from 1820 and earlier only list the name of the head of household. When digging up my own family tree I've stared at the screen, scratched my head and said, "Well, if I do the math right those should be the same people." Moments later though, my mystery-writer brain kicks in to say, "But what if they aren't?"

Immigration records are another source for inspiration when you are plotting your first--or next--historical mystery. For my own little family researches I found myself asking, "Why might they have come on separate boats?" and "If they were from Wales why did they leave from Liverpool?" A simple matter of several hundred miles could equal 300 pages of solid suspense.

One caution: If you turn to your own family history to help with future plots, be sure to keep the story that inspired it close to your chest. Change names and dates, and even locations if you must. Family peace is worth a thousand best sellers!

In honor of family, historical fiction, and coziness, enjoy our family's yummiest traditional family dessert: Huckleberry Duff.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar, plus 1 1/2 cups
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
1/4 cup milk
1 quart fresh huckleberries (or blueberries, blackberries, black caps, you get the picture)
 2 cups water

Directions

Sift together flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Grate cold butter into flour mixture with a cheese grater. Stir together with a fork. Add milk to form dough. Combine berries, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Drop dumplings into berrie sauce by the tablespoonful. Cover pot. Turn heat down to low and cook slowly for 20 to 30 minutes. Don't open until your timer beeps! Serve with fresh cream, whipped cream, or ice cream.


Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of The Mitzy Neuhaus Mystery Series. She is also a wife, mom, Sunday School teacher, and award winning playwright from Portland, Oregon. She is madly working on her next mystery series which has finaled in the Books of Hope Contest at Write Integrity Press and has an impending deadline.

Traci earned a degree in History from Portland State University and lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director from Kansas, their two daughters, and their dog, Dr. Watson.
More of Traci's work can be found at tracihilton.com

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