Mystery writer influenced by other authors, writes with husband

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Mystery novelist Susan Wittig Albert recently released the 15th book in her China Bayles series called “Spanish Dagger.” However, she did not speak at length about her books, but chose to talk about the history of mysteries and how she started her career as a writer.

Albert spoke about her career Tuesday evening at the Manhattan Public Library.

She said draws a lot of her inspiration from writers Gertrude Warner, the author of the Boxcar Children series; the pseudonym author Carolyn Keene, who Albert herself has written under to add to the Nancy Drew series; and Agatha Christie, who for a time wrote at least one new mystery novel a year.

When she was young, Albert said she sold short stories she had written for children’s magazines for one penny per word, and when she was not writing she spent the rest of her time reading.

“I just had to read all of the books in the children’s library,” she said. “I remember crawling around on my hands and knees, making sure that I had gotten every single book on the bottom shelf. All of that reading encouraged me to want to be a writer.”

She told the audience she was married right out of high school and had three children. When she decided to go to college, she was the oldest student at the age of 23.

Albert and her husband write books together and are working on the fifth book in their Beatrix Potter series. Apart from writing with her husband, she already has finished the 16th China Bayles novel titled “Night Shade” and has begun writing “Wormwood,” which is the 17th book in the series.

Manhattan residents Tom Mahoney and Charlie Clack, who were in attendance at the talk said that they had not read any of her books, but after hearing her speak they probably will start to follow her work.

“We heard about her coming to speak and thought we would come and check it out,” Mahoney said. “After hearing her speak about her novels, I want to read some of the Victorian or Elizabethan era books.”

Joan Huges, Council Grove resident, said she and her husband follow most of Albert’s work.

“I’ve read every book in the China Bayles series, except the newest one,” she said. “My mother loves them, too, and once one of us checks it out we’ll both just sit and read it until we finish because we just can’t pull ourselves away.”

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