If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

July Interviews

7/1 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
7/8 Jessica Baker, Murder on the Flying Scotsman
7/15 TG Wolff, Driving Reign
7/22 Leslie Budewitz, The Solace of Bay Leaves
7/29 Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets

Saturday Guest Bloggers

7/11 Mark Dressler
7/18 James McCrone

WWK Bloggers:

7/4 Valerie Burns
7/25 Kait Carson


Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Kaye George's second novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Deadly Sweet Tooth, was released on June 2. Look for the interview here on June 10.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Monday, May 23, 2016

How I Finally Met Trixie Belden

by Shari Randall

At this year’s Malice Domestic conference I met Mark Baker, the creator of the wonderful Carstairs Considers blog. It was fun to talk to someone who knows so much about mysteries, and who, like myself, is a fan of the Mrs. Pollifax mystery series.

As we compared notes about mystery novels, he discovered my deep dark secret.
“You’ve never read Trixie Belden?” Mark was too polite to gasp, but he dropped his dinner roll.

I’m a huge Nancy Drew fan and I never meant to snub Trixie, but Nancy filled all my teenage sleuthing needs.  But I feel strongly about reading the classics, so I added one book to my post-Malice TBR pile: The Secret of the Mansion by Julie Campbell, er, Kathryn Kenny, er, Julie Campbell Tathum.

Actually, Julie Campbell Tathum, a literary agent, was the originator of the Trixie Belden series and wrote the first six books between 1948 and 1956. Tathum also wrote for the Ginny Gordon, Vicki Barr, and Cherry Ames series. The publisher, Whitman, assigned the nom de plume Kathryn Kenny to the Trixie Belden series. There is some evidence that Tathum wanted to write for the Stratemeyer Syndicate, but was not offered a position with The House That Built Nancy.

I feel like a louse, but, Nancy, I have to confess. I couldn’t stop turning the pages of The Secret of the Mansion.

In this first book of the Trixie Belden series, 13 year old Trixie is bemoaning the boring summer stretching out before her when Honey Wheeler, a millionaire’s daughter, moves in next door. Then a runaway kid hides out in a nearby mansion and rumors fly that the mansion has a fortune hidden inside. Suddenly Trixie’s summer is packed with excitement, fun, and danger. Lots of danger.

Trixie’s uninhibited, impulsive nature is contrasted by the quiet personality of her new friend, Honey. Honey is a poor little rich girl who worries that her mother doesn’t love her. She’s been sheltered so much that her family moves to the country so she can get some sunshine and put on some weight. Trixie and Honey form an instant friendship. Trixie helps Honey come out of her shell and Honey’s quiet nature reins in Trixie’s impulsive personality. A bit.

Trixie is not only unsupervised in a way that would make a modern parent call in Child Protective Services, she is often left in charge of her young brother, Bobby, who manages to get bitten by a copperhead while under Trixie’s less than stellar supervision. Trixie does know first aid and it’s a good thing too, because in the span of just a few days characters also get thrown by a horse, fall off ladders, crash bicycles, narrowly miss getting hit by a truck, and dive headfirst into a rock. There’s also a fire and a mad dog attack. Oh, and a plane crash, I almost forgot the plane crash. Trixie is always fanning Honey when she gets faint at the sight of blood or is overcome by stress, but with a friend like Trixie, that happens to Honey all the time.

One can hardly compare 13-year-old Trixie with 18 year-old Nancy. It’s a comparison of Bobby sox to penny loafers, bicycles to roadsters, but both had freedom that modern teens, with all their expensive technology, can only dream of.

Action packed, with a likeable main character who always chooses the most exciting path, Trixie Belden and The Secret of the Mansion gets an enthusiastic thumbs up from this lifelong Nancy Drew fan.

Have you read the Trixie Belden books? Team Nancy or Team Trixie?


Warren Bull said...

I have not read any Trixie Belden....yet.

Jim Jackson said...

I fess up to never hearing of the Trixie Belden books. I have two younger sisters and don’t recall them reading them.

That’s quite a list of trauma – reminds me something of the Perils of Pauline.

Shari Randall said...

Warren, you'll get a kick out of them.

Jim, that was exactly my reaction. I kept waiting for Trixie - well, or maybe her little brother - to get tied to the railroad tracks. This author went big. All the time. I was exhausted after reading this book.

Mark Baker said...

It really is amazing how much was packed into that first book. The later books in the series are less over the top. However, I bet if you sat down and really looked at everything Nancy goes through in one book, you'll find it's actually fairly similar. After all, how many times does she get hit over the head in the series?

Thanks for taking my recommendation, and I'm glad you enjoyed this book. Only 38 more to go, right?

Shirley said...

Love Trixie Belden! I still have all my old copies.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Shari, I had heard of Trixie Belden, but never read the books. Now that I think of it, my experience with Nancy Drew was more from the TV series than reading the books. Thanks to you and Mark, I think I may need to add some books to my summer reading!

Gloria Alden said...

Shari, I loved the Mrs. Pollifax series, too. I still have them. I think I may have read the Trixie Belden books once upon a time, but if they came out long after Nancy Drew, I probably didn't. However, I think I might start reading them, especially the one you mentioned.

KM Rockwood said...

We (my sisters and I) read all the books in these series we could get our hands on. The public library didn't consider them worthy of shelf space, so we were stuck with what we could dredge up.

A store in town sold Nancy Drew books, for 99 cents each. Of course none of the girls in the neighborhood had money to buy them. But we did have birthday parties, to which each girl brought a gift. We tried hard to convince our parents to buy a book as a gift. We all read all the ones everyone had, so we had a pretty good idea of what to buy. But we knew the store would exchange it if the birthday girl had already read it.

Unfortunately, my mother, along with most other mothers, didn't see a book as a good gift. My mother was of the opinion that, since every girl needed white gloves for church on Sunday, and we were rough on our white gloves, losing and soiling and ripping them, that a pair of white gloves was an always appropriate and welcome birthday gift. Much more so than a book.

When we did manage to save up money that might be used for a book, we were faced with a terrible dilemma. Ginny dolls cost $1.99. At 99 cents, you were half-way to a Ginny doll. Until you managed to acquire one, that was our most sought-after purchase. Girls who had Ginny dolls could sew for them, knit sweaters and blankets,build furniture and generally create everything the well-equipped doll needed. If you didn't have one, you were left out of a lot.

Since we had brothers, sometimes we managed to get hold of a Hardy Boys book. We read that with relish, but would have been disappointed if we'd been given one instead of one with a girl detective. Even the Bobsey twins and the Boxcar Children weren't as desirable as girl detectives.

Vida Antolin-Jenkins said...

Let's just not be divisive, hmmm?!! I love Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, and the list just goes on and on and on. I see NO reason to pick favorites, although I have particular memories with the different series. My older sister and I sat together in a large easy chair reading the first Trixie Beldon book, which we got the very first time we went to the Emmitsburg Public Library to start off a wonderful summer of reading. One of the true benefits of growing up without a television was all the time left for reading.

jean utley said...

Team Trixie. They were everything I wanted to be as a teenager. I bought them three times in my life-when I was a teen, when Kresges went out of business and again when I was about 50. Found five more that were printed in Australia-and paid a fortune for one! I still love Trixie and love that Denise Swnson pays tribute to her in the Scumble River series!

Shari Randall said...

Mark, now that you mention it, I think Nancy did get knocked out fairly often! Thank goodness those girl detectives were tough!

Shari Randall said...

Shirley, I wish I still had my old Nancy Drews. Just seeing the books in the library or book store brings back so many good memories.

Shari Randall said...

Paula, you won't regret it. There was so much action in The Secret of the Mansion that you'll tear through it in an evening.

Shari Randall said...

Gloria, I just loved Mrs. Pollifax, too. That's how I found Mark Baker's blog - it's called Carstairs Considers.

Shari Randall said...

KM, it's amazing all the thought that had to go into our purchases back in the day, isn't it? For my neighborhood girls, it was Barbie that was the must have. And you are right, if you didn't you were left out.
Thank goodness I had aunts who thought a Nancy Drew book was an appropriate gift. I'll never forget the Christmas one of my aunts gave me FOUR new Nancy Drews! A whole stack! Yes she was my favorite aunt for quite a few years.

Shari Randall said...

Vida, you're right, let's just enjoy all our girl detectives. I'm glad that my childhood public library, like yours, carried all the series I liked. When I read KM's comment I couldn't believe that a library wouldn't carry such popular books.

Shari Randall said...

Jean, were the Australian Trixie books different than the American ones? I am fascinated.
And I had no idea that Denise paid tribute to Trixie in her Scumble River books (a series that I've been dying to binge read)! Another reason to get cracking on them. Thank you for letting me know.

carla said...

Team Hardy Boys!!

Sherry Harris said...

I think I read a few Trixie Beldon books when I was young. But Mark has sparked my interest in the books too and one of these days I'm going to read some of them! Great post Shari!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer of funny fiction said...

My cousin gave me Trixie and I devoured what she had. I saved my pennies and bought more. I wanted to be like Trixie and have brothers (instead of the God-given sisters. LOL). She holds a special place in my heart and even named a character Trixie.

Shari Randall said...

Carla, I knew I could count on you to be our wild child!

Shari Randall said...

Sherry, thank you for stopping by. Mark definitely piqued my interest and I'm glad he did. Trixie was a fun read.

Shari Randall said...

Vicki, it is so cool that you've named a character for Trixie. Funny how our childhood loves stay with us.

Jeanie Jackson said...

Team Trixie all the way. I still have a full set and enjoy reading one every once in a while! One of my favorite Christmas presents was The Secret of the Mansion because it had not been republished in a long time. I started with Red Trailer Mystery.

Shari Randall said...

Billie, I have to admit I can't wait to read another one. When I started The Secret of the Mansion I couldn't put it down!

Ritter Ames said...

I am absolutely Team Trixie all the way! And I still have my copies of the much-read, much-loved books I devoured in middle school. I read Nancy, but I identified with Trixie. I still reread different titles every few years. Terrific post. May have to "visit" Trixie and Honey and the rest of the Bob Whites of the Glen very soon. Glad Mark pushed you in the Trixie direction :)

Shari Randall said...

Hi Ritter! I'm glad Mark pushed me, too! I adored Trixie and can't wait to read more.

Kait said...

Shame faced here. I never read Trixie either. Instead I was a Nancy Drew/Dana Girls girl. Now I have to follow your lead and get a Trixie on my Kindle. Gotta at least try it out. Although I admit I still intend to collect all the Nancy's I read as a kid. Many with the iconic blue tweed covers (and dust jackets) - and the later ones with the yellow spine printed covers.

Shari Randall said...

Kait, I had no idea how many Trixie fans there were out there. Now I'll admit that I have never read the Dana Girls. I may have to start delving into the world of vintage series books - following Warren's lead.
I hope you do collect all your Nancy's - I remember with great satisfaction my long stretch of over 60 Nancy's!

Diana Belchase said...

Love this post! I haven't read Trixie, but I was told about her by Cathy Wiley who has a Trixie fan club group. I'm putting this on my TBR list. Love also that you're a Mrs. P fan. She is the reason I write today. Want to start a fan club of our own?


Unknown said...

Team Trixie all the way!!! (Mark knows this about me :) Although I do like Nancy, and I do remember the very first Nancy that I ever read: Mysterious Mannequin. And to this day, when I'm flying, I wonder if they'll have to spray the runway with foam because they did in that book.

Secret of the Mansion is wonderful! My personal faves are The Gatehouse Mystery (#3) and The Mysterious Code (#7).

Glad you finally made Trixie's introduction!

Susan D said...

Team Trixie, forever. I still curl up with a Julie Campbell Trixie when I need a break from Everything.

Those first 6 were the best. As a teen, I noticed right away that Kathryn Kenny's books lacked something. Could not explain or define it, but they just weren't as good for me.

Gleeps! The number of danger-filled incidents in Secret of the Mansion. I don't think I ever noticed that. And the plane crash, too.

By the way, as Julie Tatham, she did write a number of Cherry Ames books; and as Julie Campbell, she wrote the Ginny Gordon series. But there was nothing to compare to Trixie Belden.

And you may say what you like about Jim (though you didn't), I always figured that when she got older, she hooked up with Regan.

Shari Randall said...

Diana, I think Mark Baker would join us in the Mrs. Pollifax club!

Diane, I still dream of all the food Nancy, George, and Bess put away in The Witch Tree Symbol! Yes, sorry Nancy, but I think I'm going over to the Trixie side.

Susan, Trixie was the best break from Everything. Now I'm looking forward to trying Cherry Ames and Ginny Gordon.
(and I think you are right about Regan!)

Sean said...

I LOVE Trixie Belden! (I'm 42 and male) I used to read them as a kid, and I still dust off the old copies for a read. The boys and girls of the Bob-Whites had so many adventures. I just hated how the guys would sometimes tease Trixie-especially since she usually was on the nose! (Or at least the left nostril-yes, she made mistakes, but her "mysterious" happenings usually were!