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A book by Mara Lohrstorfer Purnhagen ’95.What if you had ghost hunters for parents? What if the myth behind a ghostly game came true? These are a few of the questions Mara Purnhagen asked herself when writing her five-book series, Past Midnight. Those questions become reality for the main character, Charlotte Silver, who struggles to be normal in a paranormal world. In One Hundred Candles, the second book in the series, Charlotte encounters spirits unleashed from a weird party game. Although the series’ first novel was originally meant to stand alone, Purnhagen described the ensuing works as a great accomplishment. “The best stories always start with ‘What if,’” she said.
A book by Dan Baker ’78 and Gwen Nalls ’82.
Between 1965 and 1975, Dan Baker was a Dayton police officer, while his wife, Gwen Nalls, attended Dayton’s segregated public schools. Their book, Blood in the Streets, describes actual events following the Civil Rights Act in 1964: a 1966 drive-by murder of a black man by a racist serial killer, the violent riots that ensued and how reconciliation of racial groups within the city was reached. The authors pooled archival resources from the time as well as their own experiences. Nothing is sugarcoated, Baker said. “Many Dayton natives don’t know this part of the city’s history. We wrote the story in belief that history forgotten may be history repeated.”
A book by Julie Desloge Dubray ’88.
In Goodnight St. Louis, longtime residents Julie Dubray and co-author June Arthur Herman lead readers through a whimsical journey of their beloved city. With rhyming words and colorful illustrations, as well as an informational section on featured landmarks, the picture book’s appeal goes beyond childhood. The pair collaborated with the Visitor’s Commission to identify the top 25 landmarks to include. “We revisited our favorite places to capture the whole experience, and our kids would joke, ‘You’re not really working, are you?’” Dubray said. “We love sharing the magic of St. Louis with the world.”
A book by James Lindgren ’72.
In the third installment of his historical series, Preserving America’s Past, SUNY Plattsburgh history professor James Lindgren explores the past 50 years in the South Street Seaport district of Lower Manhattan, highlighting how the oldest neighborhood in the city has remained standing despite urban development, 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. “I’ve learned how very fragile the past can be,” he said. “America is so focused on the here and now, but preservation is a way to build a strong historical consciousness.” The book is dedicated to the late Edwin “Sandy” King, a UD professor who inspired open-mindedness and ambition in the author.
A book by William Ries ’59
Longtime educator William Ries was once told that he must have the easiest job in the world as an elementary school principal. Having spent his work days among students — on the playground, at the bus stop, in the lunchroom — instead of behind a desk, he knew that was not the case. “I wanted my seven grandchildren, and others, to understand the challenges that an elementary school principal faces,” Ries said of his book, which tells his experience as a principal in a light-hearted, inspirational way. “My favorite part of writing was saying pleasant things about many of my fellow principals and other strong staff members. Their dedication to children, staff and parents is admirable,” he added.
A book by Andrea Kiesewetter Hulshult ’00.
Andrea Kiesewetter Hulshult can’t remember a time when she wasn’t writing. With her first novel, Fighting the Fog, she hopes others will also appreciate the beauty of English composition. Highlighting the value of
hope, courage and friendship, it’s a story of a woman, her best friend and the struggles that come after tragedy strikes. “You shouldn’t let the fog of life keep you from living life to its fullest,” Hulshult said. “I hope people take from this book that they, too, can fight through the fog, and I hope it allows them to escape from reality for just a few minutes.”
A book by Virginia Brabender ’71
A researcher at heart, psychologist Virginia Brabender dove into adoption literature to learn and understand the field before becoming an adoptive parent herself. However, she found herself disappointed when her readings minimally addressed the bond between adoptive parents and children. Brabender worked with
co-editor and fellow adoptive parent April Fallon to develop a book that weaves the experiences of many adoptive families with rich clinical research to engage readers, both lay and professional. “I hope to give a voice to adoptive parents in a way that has not been done before,” she said.
A book by Chris Blewitt ’96
Chris Blewitt has always enjoyed learning about American history; now, he’s written the book on it. The Lost Journal is an educational adventure novel that takes readers on a chase through some of the country’s most
well-known historical sites to uncover their best-kept secrets. “I really enjoy learning about Colonial times and the American Revolution,” Blewitt said. “I visited all the historical places featured in the book, from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. Those trips, and the actual research, made writing this book very enjoyable.”
A book series by Laura Roecker Stropki ’03 and Lisa Roecker.
Stropki teamed up with her sister, Lisa, to co-write a “book we would have loved reading as young people.” The duo is now three installments into their Liar Society series, which follows 15-year-old Kate and the secrets she uncovers within her posh co-ed private school. “We discovered that it’s not as easy to write a young adult book as it is to read one, but we’re hooked now on the writing process,” Stropki says. Their favorite part? Getting fan mail from girls who have become avid readers because of their books.
A book by Kathy Laugheed ’86.
Written in two parts, The Spirit Keeper chronicles an epic journey across the early Pennsylvania frontier. Laugheed explains, “My grandmother was proud of her pioneer heritage, and she bequeathed to me both a deep fascination for frontier history and a good deal of ancestral guilt. I wrote this book as part penance for the sins of our past, part tribute to all our ancestors, part defense for my own sorry existence and part grandiose delusion as I hope to remind modern Americans of the pile of carcasses our forefathers had to crawl over in order to give us the life we take for granted today.”