Meet Hanneke Bauer!

I’m so happy to introduce you to the protagonist of my new Hanneke Bauer historical mystery series! The first volume, Lies of Omission, will be published on November 30, 2021 by Level Best Books.

I’ve actually been getting to know Hanneke for a long time.

When I accepted an interpreter position at Old World Wisconsin in 1982, I was assigned to the German Area. I loved working in all of the farms there, but was particularly fascinated by an extraordinary house once owned by the Schulz family.

The Schulz House, restored to its 1860 appearance.

I baked many loaves of crusty rye bread in the brick bake oven inside the Schwartze Kuche (Black Kitchen), and learned to spin and weave there.

Weaving linen cloth, 1982.

After spending so much time walking the floors, working through seasonal domestic chores, and thinking about farmwife Auguste Schulz, there where times when I almost glimpsed the hem of her skirt as she disappeared into the next room.

That’s when I knew I wanted to write a book about a Pomeranian immigrant.

This image of an unknown German woman helped me imagine Hanneke.

Other projects kept me busy. Finally, about fourteen years ago (while my agent was shopping around the first Chloe Ellefson Mystery, Old World Murder) I began working on the Pomeranian story. I was half-way through a rough draft when the Chloe series sold, and that kept me even busier. I was only recently able to finish the project.

Lies of Omission takes place in 1855, and begins just as Hanneke arrives in Wisconsin. Intelligent, capable, and strong-willed, she is looking forward to joining her new husband at his farm near Watertown. (Things do not, of course, go as well as she’d hoped.)

Tremendous numbers of German-speaking immigrants were settling during the state in this period, which prompted a backlash of anti-immigrant sentiment in Wisconsin and elsewhere. The nativist movement provided some good material for a mystery! And fictionalizing the Schulz Farm created a setting I can see clearly in my mind’s eye.

After all these years, it’s a special pleasure to see Hanneke emerge on the printed page. I hope you enjoy meeting her as much as I enjoyed creating her! I’ll share more insights about the book as publication day approaches.

(Chloe fans, never fear. I’m already working on her next adventure!)

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21 Responses to “Meet Hanneke Bauer!”

  1. Nijole Says:

    How exciting!! Can’t wait to meet her.Nijolė

  2. Brenda Boettcher Says:

    Oh, my goodness! I was already excited to read this, and then you share that she was near Watertown! Is it November yet?????

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Brenda, the Pomeranian story in that area is so interesting, isn’t it? –And thanks for reminding me that I need to set something up with Books & Co in Oconomowoc, one of my favorite stores!

  3. Kathleen W Says:

    Looking forward to meeting Hanneke Bauer! Is she based on the life of Auguste Schulz or an entire new composite of Pomeranian womens’ experiences. Either way eager to meet her!

  4. janekirkpatrick Says:

    Bauer was my mom’s maiden name :). And, I got to mention you in my interview with Craig Johnson at Powell’s the other night! What I’m reading and favorite authors. There you are. And how exciting about Hanneke! Congratulations. Jane Jane Kirkpatrick http://www.jkbooks.com

    >

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Jane, I just learned that Bauer means something like “good farmer” or “strong farmer,” so there’s more evidence of good stock. :>) Thank you so much for your ongoing support! It was my pleasure to share the news about your new book too…a number of my readers love your work!

  5. Rhonda McNurlan Says:

    I can’t wait Kathleen! I just love your book’s. I just wanted you to know that some of my best memories of Old World was being learning so much from you and Marty. When I started learning it opened my like a flood gate. I owe it all to you both. Thank you so much.

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Rhonda, that means so much to me! I treasure my memories from those days (obviously, since I keep re-living them in fiction!) I miss Marty all the time, but am so glad I had the chance to learn from him. Those were good times, eh?

  6. Susan Apps-Bodilly Says:

    This is exciting news! Can’t wait to read it. . . and I just finished your newest Chloe book – so I’m glad to hear you are still writing more adventures for her to have.

  7. Mary H Says:

    I’m looking forward to the book although “crusty rye bread” isn’t quite the way I remember the rocks I baked.

  8. QNPoohBear Says:

    I love your AG books so as an adult reader I’m eager to check this one out. I really liked what you did with Kirsten’s mystery incorporating the things you learned at the museum. I could picture your Old World Wisconsin easily. I’m also interested in reading about weaving. I helped teach 4th graders (and other school age kids) spinning and weaving at a museum for a couple of years. I’m TERRIBLE at weaving but one of my colleagues was very knowledable and I learned a lot from her.

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      I love knowing that you been enjoying my books over the years! I kept hoping AG would invite me to write a Kirsten mystery. :>) As for weaving…it can be harder than it looks! I remember wrestling with linen warp threads that wouldn’t hold tension, and putzing at every turn of the weft to keep a straight edge. I hope you enjoy The Weaver’s Revenge as well.

  9. Alan Says:

    Well now, Pomeranians, hey??
    Hello Kathleen
    Pape’s we’re Pomeranian immigrants too. Just today I came across the tour brochure that I helped lay out east of Watertown in 1984 for the national Vernacular Architectural Forums tour to the half-timber buildings in Dodge County. I love half-timber buildings and had to fight hard to save the Schultz House. Most of the south wall timbers were replaced due to rot and many of the others as well. The bake oven which you used was my design based on the oven that was inside a similar house that Marilyn and I purchased and moved to save it. Today I am still trying to save one that was taken apart and stored in a barn for the last 40 years. It was also featured in Richard W. E. Perrin’s books on Wisconsin architecture. When my family visited our old farm in Pomerania now Poland I was disappointed that there wasn’t any half-timber building existing and actually very few in the neighborhood.
    Let me know if you need any help with the details in the new series like we did with the Belgian book. Always fun to help another person who also has been transformed by OWW. Lots of success with the new series.
    Alan

  10. Kim Thorsen Says:

    Dear Kathleen,
    As a lover and reader of history and mystery and a former middle school Literature teacher, I must tell to how thrilled I am to have stumbled upon the Chloe Ellefson mysteries. It started with a copy of Heritage of Darkness I chose from a birdhouse library while walking my granddaughter. I LOVE THEM! I am currently reading the series. I noticed you signed a copy of Old World Murder that is in my small town library….Elizabeth, Il. In your autograph, you stated “for my friends of Elizabeth. Were you in Elizabeth, if so what were the circumstances? Thanks again for the joy of reading I am experiencing!

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Hi Kim! I’m so glad you found the Chloe series, especially in such a fun way, and that you’re enjoying them! I love writing them and have started work on #12. I don’t recall the circumstances that led to that signed book in your library, I’m sorry to say. I’ve visited many libraries over the years, but sometimes librarians attend events elsewhere and pick up a book for their patrons. Happy reading!

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