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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

An Interview With Rosalie Spielman

by Grace Topping

Authors are frequently advised to write what they know, but that doesn’t always work and they are left having to conduct research about unfamiliar subjects. In Rosalie Spielman’s case, she was able to draw on her experience as an Army officer for her character and story. The first book in her Hometown Mysteries series, Welcome Home to Murder, provides rich details that make her story believable and hard to put down. 


Welcome Home to Murder

Tessa Treslow never wanted a small town life. As soon as she graduated high school, she happily escaped her tiny town to join the U.S. Army, leaving New Oslo, Idaho, population 852, firmly behind her. Twenty years later, the hometown hero is finally ready to come back—even if she has just a visit with loved ones in mind while her family is hoping to convince her to stay for good. 

With her fawn boxer dog, Vince, in tow, Tessa falls into the unsettlingly familiar small-town life, helping out in her family's general store and her feisty Aunt Edna's auto body shop. But her peaceful homecoming is suddenly shattered when the dead body of a crooked con man turns up in her aunt's shop, and the police have some serious questions for the family. To make matters worse, the sheriff in charge just happens to be Tessa's ex-boyfriend... and things did not end well between them all those years ago. When it comes out that the con man was trying to get his hands on the family business, Tessa knows they're in trouble. 

With her family in danger of being dragged away in handcuffs, Tessa becomes a woman on a mission to find the con man's killer. Between a slew of suspects, a meandering moose, and a handsome newcomer with his eye on Tessa, she has her work cut out for her. But when the killer changes tactics—putting everything her family holds dear in jeopardy—Tessa begins to realize what home really means to her. Can she be the hero for her hometown once again... before it's too late?




Welcome, Rosalie. 


Following a career in the U. S. Army, Tessa Treslow returns home to visit her parents and her Aunt Edna, a Vietnam-era veteran. She plans to stay only for a short visit while she decides where she wants to settle. Why does Tessa opt to stay with her aunt and not her parents?

Tessa has a deep bond with her aunt through their mutual love of all things mechanical. At her parents' house, her childhood room has remained the same, while at Aunt Edna's, there is a guest room, which is what Tessa wants to be—a temporary guest.


After twenty years in the Army, Tessa doesn’t feel she is ready to become a civilian. Most civilians don’t realize that being in the military is more than just a job. What will Tessa’s biggest adjustment be?


The hardest thing for me was the lack of identity. I felt like I went from being "someone" to being no one. Tessa does touch on this in the book. She isn't sure what is in store for her next. Most retirees go on to second careers and do another twenty years in a different field, or in a civilian equivalent of their military job, and she does want to do auto repair and restoration, but hasn't figured out how or where to do that yet.


Once home, Tessa meets Nick Hunt, a disabled Army veteran. She initially resists his overtures of friendship. Why?


Tessa hesitates to be friendly with Nick for two main reasons. One, she doesn't want to get involved with anyone, especially a military man, as she lost her fiancĂ© when he was killed in combat. The other reason is that she doesn't want anything to keep her in New Oslo. 


Nick suffered the loss of his leg while on active duty and wears a prosthesis. Apparently, there are prostheses for various activities. Can you please tell us more about that?

I've learned a little from my friend with a prosthetic leg. Since her (and Nick's) amputation is above the knee, the artificial leg needs to have ankle and knee joints that can both lock in certain positions. Just pay attention to your joints while doing different activities and you'll understand the need for this. According to my friend, a locking ankle was initially developed for women to wear heels! My friend uses that locking ankle to fly small aircraft. She also has knees for biking and skiing, as well as usual walking. I'm not sure how each is different. You have probably seen the "blade" that some people run with, which would be inappropriate for causal walking around. Therefore, they also need a regular prosthetic leg.


Nick is working in a program called Troops to Teachers. Is that an actual program?


Yes, it is. This program allows enlisted soldiers to complete their degree and be employed as teachers. Typically, these teachers are sent to inner-city schools, where it is harder to get teachers. After they have completed a term of service and their degree/certification, they can move on to a different school, like Nick did. 


You have firsthand knowledge about serving in the Army and separating from active duty. Please tell us about that.


I became an Army Officer via ROTC. My sister and brother were/are also officers, but in the Air Force. My sister attended the Air Force Academy, and my brother went through Officer Training School, OTS. My father, a retired Colonel, read the oath of office for each of us. We liked to joke in my family that my brother should have gone Navy to round out the services.


As for separating, for me, it was a little different than others' experiences because I had married another officer. When you marry a military member, you become a "dependent" of your "sponsor," meaning you are now afforded a dependent military ID and all that comes with that – the health care, access to posts and the stores on them, etc. So when I separated, I lost my active duty ID and instead gained a dependent ID. My frustration when I first separated was that we were headed overseas, where you can't do anything without your sponsor. It was very frustrating to go from someone who was making decisions and in charge of things to someone who needed my husband to do things for me.


Tessa gained experience working on vehicles before she entered the Army, and while on leave, worked with her aunt to restore a 1948 Chevy 3100 pickup truck. You write knowledgeably about vehicle repairs. Did you have knowledge of vehicles before you entered the Army or worked in that area while on active duty?


No, I don't have a background in mechanics, but I wish I did! I share Tessa's enthusiasm for classic cars as well but have no real knowledge of them. 

My first active duty career field was as a PATRIOT Missile Officer, but my position was Maintenance Platoon Leader, in charge of the soldiers who were mechanics. I loved it! I would get down under those big trucks so the mechanics could teach me about things like leaks. My job was basically as their administrator, but I would have loved to stay in that field and change my career field to Ordnance. Tessa was an Ordnance Officer, who are the leaders in the mechanical units.


You highlight the issue of veterans suffering from PTSD and the high numbers of veteran suicides. Are these issues particularly important to you? Are there organizations that help veterans once they separate from military service?


This is a very important issue to me. We lose way too many service members to suicide—the current estimate is twenty-two a day. The attitudes around mental health in the military are slowly changing, but not fast enough for those suffering. We call the mental health issues “the unseen wounds of war,” as if a soldier is hurt in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast. He or she may not lose a limb, but their brains could be damaged from traumatic brain injury (TBI). In past eras, PTSD was called "shell shock" or "battle fatigue," and it has existed as long as war has. It was treated as a weakness of character, and that attitude still remains, to a point. 


And yes, there are a number of organizations that help soldiers after separation. I highlight a few of them as a postscript in my book. One of them is the Disabled American Veterans organization, to which my publisher is donating part of their proceeds for the presales and first week of sales.


A very large and potentially ferocious moose plays a role in your book. You could almost add him to your list of characters. In that part of the country, do moose often walk through the center of town? Do they present a frequent danger to the citizens of New Oslo?


Absolutely they are walking around town. I got the inspiration from seeing a Facebook video posted by the coffee shop in the town New Oslo is based on, which showed a moose cow and her calf walking down Main Street. 

Just this spring, there was a young moose hanging out on the University of Idaho campus in Moscow, peering in the window of the bookstore and laying on the lawns. There are a lot of pictures of moose walking around town in both Moscow and the town New Oslo is based on. I would say they don't present a danger because residents know to steer clear of the huge animals and keep their dogs away from them. The moose don't seem to pay humans any mind, but can be especially dangerous in the fall when the males are rutting, and in the spring when the females have their babies. Like any mother, a moose will protect her offspring if she feels it is being threatened. 


Tessa and her family attend a Cowboy Poetry event in town. What exactly is that?


Cowboy Poetry events celebrate the tradition of storytelling and folks singing—as the cowboys would have around the campfire at night to entertain themselves. My recounting in the book is of the experience I had at my first one. It was truly an amazing to hear these poets recite extensive poems and stories from memory. It's a fascinating piece of folk history that deserves to be remembered and celebrated.


The Hometown Mystery Series is your second series. Please tell us about your Aloha Lagoon Mystery, Death Under the Sea? Will we be seeing more books in that series?


The Aloha Lagoon series is a multi-author series from Gemma Halliday Publishing. I tried out for and was offered a contract, which resulted in Death Under the Sea. In this 16th book of the series, we meet Kiki, a young recovering socialite, as she stops in Aloha Lagoon to scuba dive. She, of course, finds herself in hot water. I received a second contract, for book 18, Death on a Cliff, which will be released on 9 August and continues the story of Kiki's adventures. I recently signed a contract for two more books, which will be released next year, one of them Christmas-themed! 


I'd like to add that this series does not need to be read in order; each author creates their own main and side characters who have their own character arcs. There are a few characters that "belong" to all the authors, and readers enjoy having one author's characters do cameos in a different author's book.


What should we be on the lookout from you next?


Besides the three Aloha Lagoon books, I have two more Hometown Series books coming. The second will be released later this year or early 2023, and the third in 2023. I also have the lead story in the Chesapeake Crimes: Magic is Murder!anthology, titled "What's a Little Murder Between Mammals?" which is set for release at the end of this coming August.



Thank you, Rosalie.



You can learn more about Rosalie Spielman and her books at



Originally from a tiny town in the Palouse region of Idaho, as a military brat, veteran, and military spouse (retired), Rosalie Spielman has moved more times than she has fingers to count on. Somewhere along the way, Rosalie discovered that she could make other people laugh with her writing. She enjoys reading to escape from the real world and hopes to give you the same with her stories. 


Welcome Home to Murder will be released on 7 June 2022, and the next Aloha Lagoon story, Death On a Cliff, arrives 8 August 2022.





Jim Jackson said...

Great interview both of you guys.

Susan said...

What a great example of using your life experiences in your writing!

Kait said...

Thank you, and your family, for their service and congratulations on your upcoming release.

I live in Maine moose country and am glad to see a moose as a featured player in your series. They are such goofy and curious critters. I’ll be looking forward to reading both your Aloha Lagoon series and Welcome Home to Murder. My husband was attached to the Patriot program as an engineer in in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s serving in such diverse areas as Turkey and Korea.

Rosalie Spielman said...

Thank you, Jim and Susan! And Kait, isn't that funny? What a small world that your husband worked with the same weapon's system! The photos above are in the Republic of Korea, my first duty station. The one of me and my roommate was taken at the DMV! (And yes, it was cold!)

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks for joining us, Rosalie. Good luck on all of your series!

Author Sarah E. Burr said...

Wonderful interview - I cannot wait for this book!

Grace Topping said...

Thanks, Rose, for your terrific responses. Your background and experiences are fascinating.

Molly MacRae said...

Wonderful interview, you two, and wonderful getting to know you better, Rosalie!

Shari Randall said...

Wonderful interview, ladies! I enjoyed learning more about you Rosalie and love your pics!

KM Rockwood said...

I've never been in the military myself, but I am well aware that it is a life-style, not a job. Two of my uncles never left that mind-set behind, making for an awkward (and incomplete) transition to civilian life.

I worked with a number of Troops to Teachers enrollees in Baltimore (although I don't remember if it was called that at the time.) They either bombed out by October, or became some of the best teachers imaginable. No in-between.

Rosalie Spielman said...

Thank you, everyone!

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Excellent interview. Brings out so many different elements within the book and the author's experiences.