Middleton author Kathleen Ernst has written over 40 books, but November 30 marked the release of a new character – Hanneke Bauer – someone she has envisioned for almost 40 years. “Lies of Omission” features Hanneke, a Pomeranian immigrant in Watertown in the mid-1800s. Upon arrival, she faces unimaginable challenges.
Q: You’ve written 11 books on Wisconsin Detective Chloe Ellefson. What made you want to start a new series?
A: I’m not giving up on Chloe. This series will also continue. After writing the very first Chloe Ellefson Mystery a few years ago, and giving it to my agent, I started the Hanneke Bauer Project. Chloe’s manuscript sold and Hanneke was put on hold. I finally had time to dust off the manuscript about a year ago and had a blast finishing the story. It’s a lot to juggle, but I plan to continue both sets.
Q: So Hanneke Bauer will also be a series?
A: Yes. The publisher offered a three-book contract. I am currently working on the second Hanneke Bauer mystery and the 12th Chloe Ellefson mystery.
Q: What was your inspiration for Hanneke?
A: My inspiration for writing about one of Germany’s first immigrant women dates back almost 40 years. The Story Farm is a fictional version of a structure that has been restored in Old World Wisconsin. In 1982, when I became an interpreter at the historic site, I worked in this house. I spent many hours walking the floor, cooking in the black kitchen, spinning and weaving, and thinking about the Pomeranian family who first lived there. I come back to immigrant stories because I am inspired by strong people who have managed to survive and thrive despite hardships. The protagonist Hanneke – a very practical, intelligent and industrious woman – gradually developed in my mind.