Old houses have always fascinated me.
I’ve lived in old houses – in fact, I’ve never lived in a home or apartment built after 1920. I’ve even bought old homes that needed a lot of love (and money) to give them amenities like plumbing and heat.
The house I live in now was built in 1774 on an island in a Maine river. In 1832 it was moved across the frozen river and pulled up a steep hill to where it is today. My family has only owned this home since the mid-1950s, but I often think of the people who lived here in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and I’ve actually included them in some of my historical novels.
The history of the house itself was the basis for Shadows on the Coast of Maine, the second in my Shadows Antique Print Mystery series. (And – no – the mystery is fictional. We didn’t find THAT when we uncovered the original fireplace.)
I’ve loved the homes I’ve lived in. But I’ve always had a special fascination for old deserted, dilapidated, houses.
Victorian farmhouses crumbling next to their barns on land that’s now fallow. Elegant mansions that became too expensive to heat, or too easy to tax, that were abandoned, perhaps eventually to become office buildings, or apartments, or turned into nursing homes or bed and breakfasts. Or, sadly and too often, bulldozed to make way for more modern, more cost-effective, buildings.
I love books centered around mysterious houses, too. I can’t resist books by authors like Mary Stewart and Daphne du Maurier and Kate Morton. I love mysteries by Linda Fairstein because, although they’re not exactly about large houses, they do incorporate the hidden history of famous New York City landmarks.
I even dream of immense houses full of rooms. I dream of walking through corridors and planning how I’m going to fix up the rooms for people in my family, or for people who are homeless. The houses in my dreams are always in poor condition, but I know they can be brought back to life. The empty rooms can become a home.
I’ve been having dreams like that since I was a child. (Any psychoanalysts out there?)
So it probably isn’t a surprise that my latest book is about – guess what? A large nineteenth century estate on the coast of Maine that, in 1970, was the place a teenaged girl died.
No one has lived in the house for years.
No question. It’s my kind of house.
Lea’s latest book is THREADS OF EVIDENCE. The old Gardner estate in Haven Harbor, Maine been deserted for years. Folks in town thought it should be torn down. But now a famous Hollywood actress has bought it. Does she have a special reason to come to Haven Harbor? The small village is full of old secrets. When needlepointer Angie Curtis is asked to restore a series of old needlepoint pictures found in the Gardener house, she finds clues that may lead to discovering what really happened in 1970, when seventeen-year-old Jasmine Gardener died there.
Lea Wait writes the Shadows Antique Print mystery series, the Mainely Needlepoint series, and historical novels for young people. As a single parent she adopted her four daughters from different Asian countries. She’s now the grandmother of eight, and lives on the coast of Maine with her husband, artist Bob Thomas, and their black cat, Shadow. To learn more about Lea and her books, see http://www.leawait.com and friend her on Facebook and Goodreads.