Ames author unveils an Edwardian era mystery

Set at the end of September 1905, “Murder at Keyhaven Castle” is the third book in the Stella and Lyndy series by Ames author Anna Loan-Wilsey, who writes under the pseudonym Clara McKenna.

Loan-Wilsey will be signing copies of the book, released in late June, at Dog-Eared Books from 10 a.m. to noon on July 31 at the Farmer’s Market.

The cozy mystery series, set in Edwardian England, introduces readers to the story of an arranged marriage between American heiress Stella Kendrick and Viscount Lyndhurst (Lyndy), who is a member of the Terran nobility.

The couple are days away from their wedding when they have to solve two murders.

At the start of the first book, “Murder at Morrington Hall”, published in 2019, the engagement had blinded Stella, the nuptials having been ordered by her manipulative and status-conscious father.

“Stella and Lyndy got to know each other and now they’re in love and eager to start a new life together,” Loan-Wilsey said. “Stella can’t wait to see her father return to Kentucky.”

The second book, “Murder at Blackwater Bend”, released in 2020, saw the couple court in the summer of 1905.

“The marriage is not delayed because of the first murder, but it is delayed because of the second,” she said.

Originally, she envisioned the Victorian era (1837-1901) as the backdrop for the Stella and Lyndy series. Her mysterious five-part Hattie Davish series, written under her real name, follows the adventures of traveling secretary Hattie Davish in 1890s America.

One editor, however, suggested that Loan-Wilsey put the new series a bit later in the story. (The Edwardian era spans 1901-1910).

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“I changed her (but) she didn’t end up picking the show,” Loan-Wilsey said with a laugh. “But the change stuck. It forced me to do a lot more research than I expected.

The author has made several trips to England for business and pleasure.

“I saved my money since I was 10 so I could go to England when I was a teenager,” she said. “So when I started writing a new series I thought, ideally, that I would like to spend my proxy days in England.”

She put the series in the New Forest area.

“It’s just 90 miles southwest of London, yet there are lots of wild areas with lots of endemic plants and animals and unique landscape features,” she said.

Keyhaven Castle is modeled after a real castle in the region, opposite the Isle of Wight.

The fourth volume will be released in 2022. It is entitled “Murder at the Hotel Majestic”. Loan-Wilsey said she signed a contract for an untitled fifth book in the series.

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She said that during the pandemic, when her book contract was a bit on hold, she got some exciting publishing opportunities. A company in the UK will publish the Stella and Lyndy books in large print, while another in Estonia will translate its series into Estonian. Kensington is its American publisher.

Loan-Wilsey published his first book in the Hattie Davis series “A Lack of Temperance” in 2012.

A native of Syracuse, New York, Loan-Wilsey received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Wells College in Aurora, New York and a master’s degree in library and information science from McGill University in Montreal. She and her husband met at Syracuse University’s biology department while she was working there and getting a doctorate.

Soon after getting married, the couple moved to Finland for a year, then to Montreal, then spent some time in Texas. The couple moved to Ames in 2001 to take positions at Iowa State University.

Loan-Wilsey is a full time writer. To learn more, visit claramckenna.com and annaloanwilsey.com.

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