Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Guest Blogger, Radine Nehring, Author of A Portrait to Die For. Shares "Enjoying What We Write"


I am certain I would not be thirty years into a writing career if I hadn't fallen in love with the Arkansas Ozarks. All it took was a weekend
camping trip to Northwest Arkansas and waking up in a grove of dogwood trees in full bloom. That, in contrast to living and working in center-city Tulsa, Oklahoma did it. Tulsa was only an hour's drive away. It was April, 1978. Coming to this area as a get-away was possible. Within two weeks John and I had purchased several acres of forested Ozarks hills and hollows to enjoy on "a few" weekends and for future retirement. 
Our land had a live spring, a pond, a disappearing creek. By 1980 the two of us had cleared a small space in our forest, built a cabin for weekend getaways, and named our place "Spring Hollow." We thought we would visit occasionally. But the call from Spring Hollow was too strong. For the next ten years, we were there almost every weekend.
 Being at Spring Hollow unleashed a gush of articles and essays about all we were experiencing and learning in our Ozarks forest. These pieces found a ready market around the United States and even the world. It seemed many people liked reading about the animals, birds, (including bald eagles) reptiles, and natural world we were being introduced to at Spring Hollow. I also wrote about gardening on our rocky hillside and about gathering the wild fruits of our land--especially huckleberries! All this, and much more, made it into publication and eventually became chapters in my first book, the non-fiction DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter From Spring Hollow.
When I decided to try writing mystery fiction I had no thought of any setting other than the Ozarks. By then, John and I had moved to Spring Hollow full time. My first "To Die For" mystery novel was set in a landscape familiar to DEAR EARTH readers. And so it continued. Novels were all set at real Ozarks locations popular with tourists as well as Arkansans. Research was done on site, with local help. My husband and I always enjoyed research trips.

Now we come to, not only a real location, but to a secondary interest of mine, the world of art. When Alice Walton's beneficence and deep interest in collecting art led to the creation of a world-class art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, I made setting one of my series novels there a  priority. Doing research in Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art took me into a world where I felt right at home as a student of art history. Art Crime, without a doubt, needed to be the focus. But I didn't want to cast even an imaginary shadow of that crime on Crystal Bridges. Therefore I did something new for me. I created a fictitious museum in a distant state as source for a loan exhibition at Crystal Bridges. I tiptoed through criminal action related to that exhibit, and created secondary characters to join my protagonist, Carrie McCrite, in the discovery of the crime and participation in action thereafter. I kept strictly to accurate descriptions of Crystal Bridges and its surrounding area. Carrie's work as a volunteer in the Crystal Bridges library is close to the reality of that job. Add a damaged Iraq vet, an
overly aggressive news reporter, and a couple of bumbling assassins hired by the main bad guy, and there is opportunity for everything from chills to laughter in A Portrait to Die For. Click over to read my review...

I enjoyed it all!


For more than twenty years, Radine Trees Nehring's magazine features, essays, newspaper articles, and radio broadcasts have shared colorful stories about the people, places, events, and natural world near her Arkansas home.

In 2002, Radine's first mystery novel, A VALLEY TO DIE FOR, was published and, in 2003 became a Macavity Award Nominee.  Since that time she has continued to earn writing awards as she enthralls her original fans and attracts new ones with her signature blend of down-home Arkansas sightseeing and cozy amateur sleuthing by active retirees Henry King and Carrie McCrite King.

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