Like many authors, real life sparks my fiction.
And like many, I drive by places—even many times—and don’t realize the history treasures hidden there.
I write the contemporary cozy Fudge Shop Mystery series, set in Door County, Wisconsin. The county is that thumb of land in Lake Michigan known as the Cape Cod of the Midwest.
My latest book, Five-Alarm Fudge, came about because on one research trip I had seen a local newspaper story about the “Marian site” in Champion, which is southwest of Door County. I’ve driven past for years but didn’t know it was the only place in the United States approved by the Catholic church for a sighting of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Even the New York Times reported this!
In the 1870s, a young Belgian immigrant teacher, Adele Brise, claimed to have been visited by Mary. Then one October a miracle happened during the Great Fire that struck Chicago and the Door County area on the same day. Over 2,000 people in Wisconsin lost their lives, but Adele—who hid in a wooden church—was spared.
The writer in me thought: What if Adele Brise made divinity fudge for the children? And what if she hid her divinity recipe in the church for safe-keeping? In Five-Alarm Fudge, Grandpa Gil and his 32-year-old granddaughter and fudge-maker Ava Oosterling set about searching for that priceless recipe.
Grandpa Gil is so sure he can find it that he’s invited royalty from Belgium to attend the fall festival. To everybody’s shock, the royal family accepts mischievous Grandpa’s offer.
But before Ava and Gramps can find the recipe, they uncover a murder victim in the church. Ava and Grandpa soon discover they could be in danger if they find the priceless recipe.
The St. Mary of the Snow’s church, and a historic schoolhouse nearby, and other sites are real in my novel. Located in Namur, the historic church serves as the Belgian Heritage Foundation Center. You can find out more on the web. www.belgianheritagecenter.org
Five-Alarm Fudge contains an original recipe for St. Mary of the Snow’s Divinity Fudge. The novel reveals in the end where the “real” fictional recipe was finally found.
I hope you enjoy the Midwest history as you read my mystery. I look forward to hearing from readers. Perhaps you know of a piece of history begging to become a book!
Christine DeSmet is the author of First-Degree Fudge, Hot Fudge Frame-Up, and Five-Alarm Fudge, published by Penguin Random House in its NAL/Obsidian line. They are available at bookstores everywhere in paperback ($7.99) and ebook formats.
Christine DeSmet is also on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/christine.desmet.357. She also posts writing news through the University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies blog for writers, https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=UW-Madison%20Continuing%20Studies%20in%20Writing