Kansas Troubles
Earlene Fowler

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Benni Harper

About Kansas Troubles

        I decided to write a book about Kansas because my husband, Allen, was born in Coffeyville, Kansas.   He used to spend every summer going back to Kansas when he was a child so a lot of Gabe's memories in Kansas Troubles are actually my husband's.
        Benni's first reaction to Kansas was identical to mine.   I'd always heard that Kansas was flat but the Wichita area where we flew into had trees!   Allen, my husband, got a big laugh out of that.   I did some research about a year before I wrote the book, as I usually do, but when I started the book, I got to chapter 5 and realized I didn't have a story!   So I flew back to Kansas on my own, rented a car and drove around Kansas for two weeks.   I experienced many first time things...chiggers, fireflies, a real Kansas electrical storm and the warning in your hotel room that tells you what to do in case of a tornado.   Not to mention the tornado map that shows on the television screen!
        I had an "in" in Derby, the town where Gabe grew up.   Allen's cousin, Delbert Fowler, was the police chief so he gave me a lot of help.   He also owns the Christmas tree farm where I set the fictional murder (and where I experienced my first chiggers).   When I went to Pretty Prairie on a whim one night after reading about Kansas' Biggest Nightime Rodeo in the newspaper, I made the acquaintance of Darrell and Joyce Albright who took me, a stranger, home to dinner with them that night and became my official Pretty Prairie connection.   I later went back and did a booksigning in the Pretty Prairie library.   It's a wonderful town and I made two delightful friends (not to mention all their kids and grandkids) that day.   My two weeks in Kansas were truly memorable and I'd sure like to go back someday.   Not during tornado season though!

      This is me standing in front of Derby Bowl in Derby, Kansas.   As you can see, it was taken a few years back by how short my hair is.   Derby, Kansas is where many of my husband, Allen's, relatives are from.   He used to go there every year on vacation with his parents.   The first love letter he ever wrote me (we were fifteen) was written in Derby Bowl.   I initially made Gabe from Derby in the first book just as a joke on my husband.   Besides, I liked the fact that Gabe would come from such an unpredictable place.   It makes him look at things differently than an Hispanic raised in Southern California.

        All the towns I used in Kansas Troubles were actual towns except for Miller.   It is based on an actual town in Kansas called Yoder.   This is the bakery in Yoder, Kansas, which is a town made up of primarily Amish people.   The reason I made it fictional is because the Amish have so few surnames among them that no matter what name I chose for my characters, it would probably be the actual name of someone in the town.   In reality, the characters are strictly from my imagination.   The bakery isn't though and their food was incredible.   One of my best research moments in Kansas!

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