Thursday, July 18, 2019

A chat with Jane Drew, from the Hollow!

Jane Drew is a character created by author Lissa Knowles
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another edition of Grandma Bertha Interviews. Today's guest is a little unusual. Her name is Jane Drew, and she runs a special place called The Hollow, where I hope to spend a holiday sometime soon. Jane has a lot of fun stories to tell us, so let's get on with it!
Tell us, Jane, what was the first investigation you ever did? 
I’ve always been what you might call a ‘Nosy Parker’ kind of person and I see mystery and intrigue at every turn.  When pencils went walkies in kindergarten, it was clear to me that Mr. Farfuddle (our principal) was trying for a Guinness World Book entry for the largest collection of unique pencils, even though nobody else believed me.
Did you manage to find the missing pencils?
Not really, it turned out that one of the school secretaries, a Mrs. Pennyfeather, was keeping all the extra pencils she came across in one of her desk drawers so that she always had spares on hand. 
You can imagine my surprise when years later I saw Mr. Farfuddle being interviewed about his unique pencil collection and there was my special pencil front and center.  I was right all along.  I just knew Mr. Farfuddle had a shifty look about him.
That’s incredible!  What was your most recent investigation?
Most recently an Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox church had the nerve to die with his mouth stuffed full of sticky bun that was made from my secret recipe.
Oh no!  You mean the sticky bun killed him? 
Of course not.  I was only concerned because he had walked out in front of me while I was ziplining and I accidentally knocked him into some bushes. I thought perhaps he had suffered a delayed heart attack.
Do you think you have more investigations in your future?
I sincerely hope not.  Three unexplained deaths in The Hollow are quite enough for me, thank you very much.
What is your daytime occupation?  How does it relate to your investigations?
I am the Estate Manager of The Hollow, an estate located close to the Appalachian Mountains in upstate New York.  I'm responsible for looking after the maintenance and upkeep of the grounds and buildings on the property. 
What is The Hollow exactly? 
A certain privateer captain (Amos Agnew) was looking for a place where he could retire and live in security.  He heard tales of a place tucked up against a mountain where numerous caves and tunnels could be found while he was stuck ashore in New England recovering from an injury.  After a particularly successful series of victories he, along with his crew, were ready for a new adventure. They all set out from the port of Beverly, Massachusetts to search for the hidden caves their Captain had heard about.
Caves and a 'place of hot waters' were often mentioned in stories they heard from Native Americans that they encountered during their trip into the wilds of New England.  When the travelers stumbled across a natural depression with numerous hot pools, Captain Agnew knew he had found what he was looking for, a secure, safe haven for himself and his crew.
He and my grandfather designed the castle at the heart of The Hollow to be a refuge for the rich and infamous of the day, meaning his closest associates who wanted a break from their life of piracy. My grandfather, Tobias Drew was a Captain Agnews Executive Officer and was also a Master Mason, so he was responsible for overseeing the construction of a castle, its surrounding walls and a secret tunnel system that connects everything in The Hollow with a hidden series of caves. Captain Agnew died childless but his will made provision for my family to remain as the caretakers of the property 'in perpetuity -- or forever, to put it simply.
The castle that houses the Secret Springs Spa and Wellness Center was built as Captain Agnew's residence and he gave the stone outbuildings that are scattered around the estate to any of the crew members who wanted to stay here with him and start a new life. Virtually everyone living here at The Hollow is descended from the sailors who gave up their sea-faring days to follow their captain wherever he led them.
Do you watch crime TV show and movies? What are your favorites?
I love all the cozy mystery series that have been turned into TV shows an mysteries.  I’ve just been binge watching the new Agatha Raisin series based on the cozies by M.C. Beaton.  There is one scene in an early episode where a gorgeous Indian man is doing yoga on the village green – naked if you can imagine it! 
How do you deal with the authorities while doing your investigation?
Because client privacy is essential to the reputation of The Secret Springs Wellness Center, I try to avoid dealing with state police as much as possible.  Unfortunately, following the recent death of my daughter-in-law’s grandmother, I seem to have been landed with my very own undercover police officer staying with me and the grandmothers who share my house.  Plus the owner of the security company who looks after the grounds and outbuildings around The Hollow is taking more of an interest in the inner workings of The Hollow than I really like. 
Some days I feel like I’m juggling a couple of live hand grenades as I pick my way between a mysterious butler and a retired State Police inspector who has been asked by the Department of Homeland Security to keep an eye on The Hollow.
Do you have anyone helping you in your investigations? Tell us more about them.

My three best friends, BJ, Lynne, Eleanor moved in on my life during following the death of my husband, Greg.  I can’t imagine managing to get to the bottom of some of the strange things that have happened around The Hollow since that time.

So how long have you all known each other?

Our friendship back before the 'dawn of time', meaning pre-marriage and kids. We all knew each other's families since we were children, because our grandfathers had all sailed with Captain Agnew who patrolled the waters off New England in a schooner called Tyrannicide. 

My great-great² grandfather was Captain Agnew's Executive Officer while BJ, Lynne and Eleanor are descended from other members of the crew who sailed on the Tyrannicide.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your friends?

The four of us ended up attending university together before branching off and following our personal interests.  BJ went to law school, Lynne studied psychology, Eleanor majored in economics and I ... well I specialized in staying home and having children, four of them to be precise.

The are all semi-retired now, Lynne works the most of them since she has oversight of the rehab wing of the Secret Springs Spa and Wellness Center.  BJ and Eleanor occasionally commute to New York if something comes up that piques their interest.  They help me with handling the legal and financial aspects of keeping a large estate like The Hollow afloat and secure.

 Thank you for your time, Jane! Don't forget to save me a spot at the Hollow, I can't wait to know the place. And thanks also to my readers. Don't forget to check out Jane's adventures. See you next week!


Author Lissa Knowles

I started reading mysteries when I was about ten, with Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer rising rapidly to the top of the heap as my favorite authors. After 50 years plus of reading cozies I finally decided to try my hand at writing one. With my husband of 42 years cheering me on in the background, the Gramma's Off Her Rocker series is off to a rousing start with my first book, Toasted to Death.

I'm currently hard at work on Sinnin' Buns, a cozy that takes up right where Toasted to Death leaves off. 

A second cozy series is also in development, Livin' the Dream - on an Island in the Pacific. I don't want to give anything away but the island in the Pacific might not be where you would imagine!

No comments:

Post a Comment