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". . . every minute of life is education,
especially if you live in
interesting times."

Elizabeth Daniels Squire


The unforgettable Elizabeth Daniels Squire, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, and a graduate of Vassar College, created the character of Peaches Dann, the absent-minded detective who is one of the most original crime solvers. An Agatha Award winner, Liz was working on her ninth mystery at the time of her death in February 2001.


"Not for one minute do I believe that the Old Chinese curse: 'May you live in interesting times,' is actually a curse," said Elizabeth Daniels Squire, describing her lifetime.

She continued, "My life has been interesting every minute, which is why I Elizabeth Daniels Squireconstantly steal bits of it to weave in with my fiction - like a flood here or an encounter with a rattlesnake there.I grew up in a newspaper family in North Carolina with an editor-grandfather so controversial he was shot at, and so lucky that the bullet missed. I grew up hearing the latest news discussed at the dinner table before it ever got as far as the front page. I married a newspaperman and went on to be a reporter myself, covering everything over the years from school boards to murder trials. I also did a syndicated newspaper feature on the hands of celebrities for a while which gave me a chance to meet and take the hand prints of such fascinating folks as Salvador Dali, Helen Hayes and Carl Sandburg. Yes, I do believe people's talents and likely prospects show in their hands. You can even tell quite a bit watching celebrities wave their hands on television.

Next I became a mystery writer. Which means I still have the chance to keep exploring all sorts of intriguing subjects.

I write about an absent-minded sleuth. (O.K. It's true, I myself am absent-minded, but work hard to compensate.) Her name is Peaches Dann and so far she's won me an Agatha Award and an Anthony nomination. TElizabeth Daniels Squirehose were for a short story: "The Dog Who Remembered Too Much" (Malice Domestic IV). In my sixth novel in the series, Where There’s a Will, Peaches is called upon to help out a dysfunctional family that seems to have been jinxed by inheriting millions. To solve murders, my poor mountain sleuth has to take a fancy cruise, so to do research I had to go on a cruise. You can see how dedicated I am to my art. But Number five in the series, Is There A Dead Man In The House? simply fell in my lap. You see, I watched the restoration of a real 1790’s house in Tennessee, took one look at some of the artifacts that came to light, and was hooked. I knew this was a setting for a mystery! The house had almost been offered to the fire department to burn down for practice. Luckily someone discovered that beneath more recent ramshackle additions was a solid old house, perhaps the oldest one in Middle Tennessee. I felt as if it had been saved just for my sleuth! I especially enjoyed reading the archaic language of the old newspapers that were pasted to the attic walls as insulation with headlines like: "Crazed By Liquor, Man Battles Police". The subhead pointed out the reputed bootlegger fared badly with his own product. A story about dueling deaths in seven Southern states was half-hidden by an ad for Thedford's Black Draught laxative. All grist for the mill. Is There A Dead Man In The House? is fiction, but many of the clues are real. In the same way, the skeleton found under the house is based on a real skeleton, buried elsewhere in 1849 and proudly shown to me by Nick Fielder, Tennessee state archealogist. It's great how folks, from members of a local historical society to the county archivist, will help a mystery writer.

I have been a library trustee and I love even the smell of books. I enjoy talking to library and other groups, a favorite subject being: Why it's a great thing to base a mystery series on your own worst fault, particularly if you come from the South. I'm a member of The Carolina Crime Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. I'm a graduate of Vassar. And I have dipped into all sorts of interesting courses here and there, at the University of North Carolina for example. Formal education is helpful, but every minute of life is education, especially if you live in interesting times."


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