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Guest Post by the Author
When I was searching for a peg on which to hang a new mystery series, the academic world seemed a no-brainer to me. I have spent most of my adult life on college campuses; As an undergraduate I spent two years at Cornell College in Mt Vernon, Iowa, and then two years at the University of Chicago. An enormous cultural gap lay between the small liberal arts college located in a equally small rural community and the storied Gothic building in the heart of Chicago’s South Side. There was a huge difference in the educations I received too—at Cornell, I benefited from the tiny classes and the fact that I was in the upper tier of student achievers, a distinction that earned me some fascinating seminars like one on The Education of Henry Adams. At Chicago, I was one of many faceless students, but I was exposed to some of the best minds in the country. I remember having a class with Norman McLean (A River Runs Through it).
Work on a master’s in English Education found me in Kirksvile, Missouri, at a teacher’s college, now Truman State University. I was back in the small-town atmosphere where academia mingled easily with the rural population. But it was work on a Ph.D. that took me to Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, the school that would be my academic home for the rest of my career. I earned a Ph.D. in English, with a special interest in the literature of the American West.
I taught an occasional class after I got my degree—wildly inappropriate subjects such as English as a Second Language and Writing for Publication. From a position as coordinator of non-credit classes, I vaulted to editor at the university press. Ten years later, I became the director of the press and stayed there for a happy twenty years. Once I went to college, I never again worked outside a college campus.
Oak Grove University is an amalgamation of TCU and Truman State, with overtones of Tarleton State University. Although I was never on that campus, the geographical location worked for my mysteries. The protagonist of these books is Susan Hogan, who as an associate professor of English, holds the job I was trained for and never did. Since she needed a romantic partner to round out the cast, who better than Jake Phillips, campus chief of police, since cozy heroines are so often paired with law enforcement officers that the relationship has become a ciché.
Susan’s adventures begin in The Perfect Coed, when the body of a student is found in her car. Diane Donovan, senior ebook reviewer for The Midwest Book Review, wrote, Few mysteries open with a single paragraph of eye-popping intrigue, but The Perfect Coed is full of such moments and its introduction is apt warning that readers will rapidly become involved in something far from mundane or predictable: “Susan Hogan drove around Oak Grove, Texas, for two days before she realized there was a dead body in the trunk of her car. And it was another three days before she knew that someone was trying to kill her.”
In PIgface, Susan thinks she’s about to meet her maker when she confronts a rifle-carrying man, who looks like a pig, in a grocery store. Jake investigates the body of a young college student, shot in the back and found in an empty pasture.
Trouble in Oak Grove begins with the open-carry protestors in the store and leads to a shooting, breaking and entering, threats and an attempted kidnapping, a clandestine trip to the woods late at night. Will Susan Hogan land in trouble…or the hospital…again? Will Susan and Jake survive this as a couple? Susan is still prickly but she learns some lessons about life, love, and herself in this second Oak Grove Mystery.
Campus life was never that exciting or perilous in my day.
About the Author
Judy Alter is the author of six books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries, two books in the Blue Plate Café Mysteries; and two in the Oak Grove Mysteries. Pigface and the Perfect Dog follows The Perfect Coed in this series of mysteries set on a university campus. Judy is no stranger to college campuses. She attended the University of Chicago, Truman State University in Missouri, and Texas Christian University, where she earned a Ph.D. and taught English. For twenty years, she was director of TCU Press, the book publishing program of the university. The author of many books for both children and adults primarily on women of the American West, she retired in 2010 and turned her attention to writing contemporary cozy mysteries.
She holds awards from the Western Writers of America, the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame, and the Texas Institute of Letters. She was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and recognized as an Outstanding Woman of Fort Worth and a woman who has left her mark on Texas. Western Writers of America gave her the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement and will induct her into its Hall of Fame in June 2015.
The single parent of four and the grandmother of seven, she lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with her perfect dog, Sophie.
Follow her at (Amazon) http://www.amazon.com/Judy-Alter/e/B001H6NMU6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1377217817&sr=1-2-ent;
her blog: http://www.judys-stew.blogspot.com;
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