January 25, 2015

Bluebirds, Lush Valleys and Folk of Arkansas with Radine Trees Nehring

Back in 1978 the state of Arkansas turned this "Okie" into a writer in love with Arkansas. Within a few months of completing my first essay about an experience in the Ozarks, I had, to my great surprise, become an internationally-published author. (Evidently the Arkansas Ozarks are of interest in many places.)  

My husband and I have lived full-time in Arkansas since 1988, and my essays, feature articles, short stories, and eight books set somewhere in the state have continued going out into the world. I'm always eager to introduce newcomers to a few of my special places. If you can't visit, how about spending time here via my mystery fiction, since my stories always depend on landscapes and buildings that actually exist. (Yes, even closets and basements--especially basements! Brrr.)

Initially I wrote non-fiction about experiences at Spring Hollow, the name my husband and I gave the

forested hills and hollows where we built our Ozarks home. When I decided to have a go at mystery fiction, that became "Blackberry Hollow," home to my female protagonist, Carrie McCrite, a mature woman, newly widowed, who dared set out on her own to learn independence after years of being sheltered and "spoiled" by her family. Oops, she soon smacks up against the murder of her best friend in the Ozarks in A VALLEY TO DIE FOR. A hunting accident? 

When a publisher bought "Valley" and wanted more, I wondered where to take Carrie next, and since she then managed a highway tourist stop for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, why not a yearly (fictitious) Tourism conference at a favorite place, Ozark Folk Center State Park? The Folk Center, somewhat like other historic village reproductions around the United States, depicts early day life--this time in the Ozarks. (The novel, MUSIC TO DIE FOR, is now out of print, but can be found on line and as an e-book.)

The main crime in MUSIC is the kidnapping of a musician's child and murder of the kidnapper, which complicates her safe return.

By then, Carrie's near Ozarks neighbor, Henry King, a retired Kansas City Police Major, has begun to figure largely in her life and, in A TREASURE TO DIE FOR, he becomes a second point-of-view character. He and Carrie attend an Elderhostel (now known as "Roads Scholars") at Hot Springs National Park, AR and end up literally saving each others' lives. As in all my stories, Arkansas history figures largely in this adventure, and the setting is so real you can follow each event there, book in hand. (Skip the underground creek including water from 140 degree springs that Carrie has to escape from. The creek is, of course, real.)

In a later adventure, Carrie and Henry, now married; plus Carrie's adult son and Henry's half sister, (who's also half his age), experience terrifying peril in an abandoned mine and historic bluff shelter during a camping trip at Buffalo National River. (Initially Carrie refuses to go tent camping and stays home, but news of the disappearance of son Rob and Henry's sister Catherine brings her to the area post haste.

Is there more?  Oh yes, much more, with many adventures to read and many places to see.

I'll close with a photo of the lovely "Bluebirds of Happiness," hand blown here in the Ozarks for many years. You can visit their too little-known source and home, Terra Studios, at Fayetteville, Arkansas. Watch beautiful glass items being made, then wander through their fantastic and imaginative people-friendly park full of unique sculpted creatures, fantasies, and, of course, bluebirds! Take the kids! It's like science fiction on the ground! 
www.terrastudios.com   I haven't set a story there yet, but . . . y'know what. . . . !?

If you would like to win a print copy of my novel, A RIVER TO DIE FOR, write me at
springhollow@arkansas.net and mention the code, 4137. Include your full mailing address. (USA, please.)  I'll print all entries, fold and stir them in an Ozarks split oak basket, and draw one.  Hope it's yours! 

You can find my books at all regular venues including as e-books from on line booksellers.  More information at http://www.RadinesBooks.com or at your favorite bookstore. My latest novel, A FAIR TO DIE FOR is also available from Oak Tree Press.  www.oaktreebooks.com
Happy adventuring in "The Natural State,"  Radine   

Radine Trees Nehring, 2011 Inductee: Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame
http://www.RadinesBooks.com http://radine.wordpress.com
Sharing the magic of the Arkansas Ozarks in "To Die For" novels
including  A FAIR TO DIE FOR from Oak Tree Press.

(All photos except that of author courtesy Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Author photo was taken at Ozark Folk Center State Park by John Nehring.)


  1. Love reading how others love the area as much as I do. I am a Pennsylvania transplant and fell in love with the hills, and the milder winter. Great post, thanks for sharing. Lynda

  2. I spent a wonderful three weeks at The Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs. During that time I finished my novella "The Stylite" which is the first of the three pieces in my newest book "Broody New Englander." I was surprised at how incredibly lovely the area is and delighted to meet so many great people there.

  3. Enjoyed this post. I have one of those bluebirds! And wish I had your split oak basket, I bet.

  4. All of Radine's books are fun reads that will make you fall in love with Arkansas.

  5. Radine Trees NehringFebruary 01, 2015

    Thanks to all of you for going on this journey with me.

    The Writers Colony in Eureka Springs has supported and encouraged so many authors and given them "away" time to really accomplish much. I have never stayed there but know many who have and a dear friend is on the board. We visit Eureka many times and I have one novel (A Wedding to Die For) set there.

    Marilyn--you also take me on trips--to California in your oh-so-enjoyable books.


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