“I’ve lived in Texas for a long time now,” says Linda Castillo, New York Times’ best-selling author of the Kate Burkholder mystery series published by Minotaur Books. “But for the first few years of my childhood, I lived in a farmhouse in Miamisburg on Springboro Pike — where the Dayton Mall property is now. When I was about seven or eight, we moved to a house in the countryside near Arcanum in Darke County.”
“The house in Miamisburg was approximately 165 years old — a stage coach stop and a railroad underground stop at one time — with three barns. It was set back on a long lane, probably a quarter-mile long,” Castillo says, with the attention to detail that is part of the tool kit of a renowned mystery novelist. “Southland 75, the drive-in movie theatre, was across Springboro Pike from our property. I remember going out with my family to sit in the yard, and watch a silent version of the movies flickering across the road, while sipping on cold milk or lemonade. Places like that make a big impression on a kid’s mind!”
And, as it turns out, on the mind of writer.
Castillo, who knew even as a youngster that she wanted to be a writer and wrote her first novel at age 13, sets her mystery series in the Amish territory of Ohio and features a police chief who was once Amish. Her debut thriller, “Sworn to Silence,” spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and earned starred reviews. The novel was also recently adapted into a Lifetime movie under the title “An Amish Murder.” Subsequent titles in her series have also hit the New York Times and USA Today lists and became international bestsellers.
The 10th and newest in the series — “A Gathering of Secrets,” launches on July 10 from Minotaur Books. At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11, Castillo will debut the title locally at Books & Co. at The Greene. This particular novel plunges Chief of Police Kate Burkholder into an investigation of the burning of an historic barn — apparently as part of a murder.
Before writing her Kate Burkholder series, Castillo wrote more than 20 romantic suspense novels, all published by major traditional publishers.
“The feedback that I kept receiving, though,” Linda explains with a chuckle, “is that I needed to put a little bit more emphasis on the romance part of romantic suspense. But I knew I wanted to emphasize the suspense part.”
So, Castillo plotted a thriller.
“It was a great plot!” she says. “But something was missing.”
Then she and her husband, who live in the Dallas area, went to visit her sister and brother-in-law in Knox County, Ohio, for her brother-in-law’s birthday.
“It happened to be in winter, and so we were standing outside taking in the beauty of the snow and cold,” Castillo says. “I heard the clop, clop of hooves, turned around, and saw an Amish horse-drawn buggy coming down the road. Suddenly, it hit me — what if I set my thriller in Amish territory? What if I played with juxtaposing the simplicity of the Amish lifestyle, and the idea of morality and innocence that comes with the religion, with crime and murder?”
The fascinating mix has worked out well for Castillo, garnering rave reviews and many fans. “I’ve never looked back since making the leap to writing my thrillers,” she says.
Learn more about Castillo and her work at her Books & Co. event, or at her website, www.lindacastillo.com.
WANT TO GO?
What: Linda Castillo introduces Amish mystery at Books & Co.
When: Wednesday, July 11, 7 p.m.
Where: Books & Co. at The Greene, 4453 Walnut St., Beavercreek
More info: 937-429-2169 | www.booksandco.com