I met her on a homeschool message board—one of those old-school things where great long multi-nested threads went on and on about everything from math curricula to that oh, so annoying, “But what about socialization?” question.
She was a quiltmaker. So was I. She loved dressmaking. So did I. She liked mysteries and well-written literature. And so did I.
Alas, I liked Jane Austen and she preferred Georgette Heyer. I forgave her. She may someday forgive me.
Author Cathe Swanson—quilter, seamstress, author extraordinaire, and a dear friend for almost twenty years.
When I first met her, she lived on a hobby farm in Wisconsin. She had a goat. Chickens. A garden. And she made wedding ensembles for the great, heaping gobs of young folks who got married in her church every year.
A perfect inspiration for one of my minor characters.
In the Hartfield Mysteries, Alexa Hartfield needed a seamstress—a dressmaker whose skills extended to pattern making and design. She needed Cathe! So, I created a woman who lived on a farm in rural Wisconsin. I gave her chickens, a goat, and a church full of people who kept getting married all the time.
She just needed a name.
One of Cathe’s favorite authors is Elizabeth Peters—particularly the Amelia Peabody series. So, when I went to create “Cathe’s” name, I wanted to honor those. Amelia Peters was just a little too on the nose for me, so… I played with names for a bit and got Adelaide. I liked it because if you took off the “Ade” you got “Laide.”
You know, like “Lady Peters.” It fit Cathe’s regal persona—particularly when elbows up to dirt in her garden, you.
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But there was one subtle thing I threw into that mix that most people miss.
Alexa Hartfield isn’t really much like me on the surface. She’s single. I’m married with 9 kids. She’s estranged from her messed up parents. I have a wonderful, loving relationship with mine. She’s wealthy as all get out. Me… not so much.
However, we do have similarities. We’re both introverts. Alexa loves and wears beautiful antique and vintage fashion. I admire from afar. We’re both pretty much, “I don’t care what you think of me” unless you have a problem with me because I’m in sin! And we’re both pretty eclectic.
What does this have to do with people missing something?
Alexa Hartfield is from Ridgecrest, California.
And so am I. So, while she’s not a representation of me, there is a certain connection between us that makes a friendship between her and Laidie feel just like a murky shadow of the friendship between Cathe and me.
And while some who have read Crime of Fashion might think we won’t see much more of her, lovers of Cassie, HearthLand, and the Hartfield Mysteries might just want to pay attention to crossovers coming soon.
Yes, for the curious. That does mean there’s a fifth Hartfield Mystery in the works.
And these days, Cathe and I also share another interest. Writing.
Cathe’s novels and novellas are full of quirky people, hilarious scenes, and poignant situations that bring to light how Christians ought to shine in this darkened age. Her book, Snow Angels is one of my favorite books of all time. Her Baggage Claim is an interesting and compelling suspense novel with hilarious and lively children… and a babysitter we should all cheer! Stay tuned for my upcoming review of her Christmas novella from last year, Hope for the Holidays.
You can find Cathe at CatheSwanson.com (and as catheswanson on all major social media)
Check out our Hartfield Archives for more posts about the Hartfield Mysteries!