I’m a crack o’ dawn man. Always have been. Grew up on a farm, served my country in ‘Nam, swore to protect and serve. There’s no sleeping in after that many 4 AM mornings. Even if I’ve spent the last thirty of my seventy-five years running a bed-and-breakfast for mystery authors, I still rise with the earliest light.
Breakfast’s first up. Gotta feed the authors and power their brains for the day! You would not believe how many of them put Moorehaven’s food in their books. I didn’t think I’d like cooking, but that’s because I never really knew how. The Moorehaven B&B used to have just one occupant—my old friend, A. Raymond Moore. Yeah, that one, the world-famous mystery author. Though he was a confirmed bachelor, he had a mountain of recipes handed down to him from his great-aunt Felicity, who built this Victorian mansion in 1891, in the newborn town of Seacrest, right at the edge of the Pacific. Ray taught me how to cook when I was forty, as if I was the son he never had. Took me until after he passed to realize that despite being rich and famous, he was lonely. Why he picked me, I’ll never know. But he changed my life. And my palate.
My great-niece runs the place now: Pippa. Smart as a whip. She’s got a head for newfangled things like the Internet and book-signing events. And updating Moore’s recipes so they boost brainpower and such. Me, I stick with what I know, which involves pipes, wires, and the occasional paintbrush. I like to walk through the library once a day, make sure the books are all evened up on the shelves. We’ve got all of Moore’s books, as well as stuff his contemporaries wrote. He and Agatha Christie corresponded during WWII. I’ve got all her books in my library, and those letters are up in the gallery.
I take a pass through the gallery, too. Ray left me all his notes and papers when he died. We both hated dealing with paperwork, so he pawned his off on me. His final joke—thanks a lot, Ray. The gallery’s glass cases showcase whatever manuscripts or inspirational trinkets Pippa’s got on the schedule, and I try my best to keep all the rest of Ray’s mess organized in the storage shelves.
While I do have a work schedule, authors sometimes ask me to expound on topics for their book research. I’ll talk about Moore, the history of Moorehaven, even Vietnam. But I always find it weird when they ask personal stuff. Pretty sure I ain’t interesting. I’m a former cop who runs a B&B. But they keep telling me I’m fascinating and adventurous. I guess my doppelgangers show up that way in their books, and that’s just fine by me.
Every single room of this old mansion has some memory or another for me. In the second-floor sunroom, Moore got me to try one of the Cuban cigars he’d gotten from a smuggler friend after the trade embargo in ‘62. He laughed his head off when I choked on the smoke and nearly set the carpet on fire trying to give it back to him. And I can’t look at the northeast turret, called the Oubliette, without remembering the overly adventurous author who climbed outside its third-story window in a rainstorm to re-enact his hero’s daring rescue—and ended up in the hospital with a couple of broken limbs for his trouble. His book was a bestseller, though. Go figure.
Moorehaven sits right on the hard edge of the continent, so we get most all the weather there is: fog, rain, fog, drizzle, fog, sun, fog, clouds, fog, hail, fog, wind, and did I mention the fog? Because we get fog sometimes. Just so you know. I like the fog. Kinda miss the endless roll of green fields, but I ain’t seen them in over sixty years. I make sure we have a regular supply of loaner umbrellas and slickers by the front door for our guests. The weather shifts quickly here. Gotta keep on your toes.
Nightfall’s no guarantee that all our authors are back inside from their adventures. I’ve gone on more than a few rescue missions, and I usually find our “lost” guests sitting somewhere right out in the open, scribbling or typing ideas madly so they don’t lose the ideas they just had. These creative folks simply lose track of the time. And the place. Ain’t nowhere in the world as good for the mystery author’s soul as a stay at Moorehaven. And there ain’t nowhere in the world as good for my soul as doing what I can to keep those authors fed, watered, and sheltered. And occasionally saved from their own Method research. Just doing my part to make the mystery genre a more fascinating place. Stop by anytime. We’ll be glad to see ya.
You can read more about Hilt in Smugglers & Scones, the first book in the “Moorehaven” mystery series.
Pippa Winterbourne runs Moorehaven, the Oregon Coast’s quirkiest bed-and-breakfast and former home of world-famous mystery writer A. Raymond Moore. Guests come there to write their own crime novels. When a real-life murder takes a local’s life and washes a handsome boat pilot into her arms, Pippa is yanked into a deadly plot of her own. A tangle of secrets crashes past into present, and Pippa must uncover clues dating back to Seacrest’s Prohibition days, including a secret Moore himself hid from the world.
Juggling her book-writing guests, small-town intrigues, secret club agendas, and a possibly fatal attraction, Pippa must sort fact from fiction to know who to trust before a desperate killer claims a final revenge nearly a century in the making.
# # # # # # # # # # #
Meet the author
Morgan is an outdoorsy girl with a deep and abiding love for the natural sciences. Her degrees involve English and jujitsu. She enjoys hiking, camping, and wandering in the woods looking for the trail to the car, but there isn’t enough chocolate on the planet to bribe her into rock climbing.
When she’s not writing, she can be found making puzzles, getting lost on the way to geocaches, reading stories to her children, or taking far too many pictures of the same tree or rock. She lives in Eastern Washington with her family.
All comments are welcomed.