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Loveland author a modern-day Nancy Drew

Loveland author loved mysteries as a child

By Shelley Widhalm Reporter-Herald Staff Writer

Posted: 08/14/2011 08:24:31 PM MDT

Author Virginia Rose Richter poses for a photo with her dog, Coco, recently in her Loveland backyard. (Photo by Jenny Sparks)

Reading Nancy Drew as a young girl solved one mystery for Loveland resident Virginia Rose Richter -- what she wanted to do when she grew up.

The grandmother of 10 and mother of four wrote "The Willow Lane Mysteries," a middle-grade suspense series featuring two 11-year-old amateur sleuths.

Virginia Rose Richter's website is

The first book of the three-book series, "The Secret of Willow Lane," tells how the two young sleuths, Jessie Hanson and Tina Adams, set out to solve the mystery of a deceased neighbor's missing will. They want to identify a stranger snooping around the house where the will might be hidden. 

But the girls' desire to use their new detective kit plunges them into danger and sends them running for their lives.

"From the day I read my first Nancy Drew mystery, I've wanted to write novels of suspense for middle-grade readers," Richter said.

Plus, Richter admired Nancy Drew's character for her independence, she said.

"She was a model for the future woman," she said. 

Richter, who published the book as an e-book earlier this year, wrote the story as a cozy, interweaving intrigue with issues that arise within the typical family, she said.

"It's safe to read to children," Richter said, explaining that the issues include sibling rivalry and children keeping things from their parents. "(Jessie) has a way of not telling her parents everything, which is necessary for her to conduct an investigation." 

"The Secret of Willow Lane" is set in a small Nebraska town Richter calls Fairfield, which is based on Aurora, where she lived from ages 11 to 13.

"It is vivid in my mind," Richter said. "It's so strange. ... I haven't forgotten a thing."

As a writer, Richter has an ability to bring readers into the story, said Maryjo Faith Morgan, a member of the Northern Colorado Weekly Writers Workshop.

Book Reviews - Open Book Society

Weekend is here once again and with it a new interview, where I had the opportunity to have a nice chat with the author of the Willow Lane Mysteries, Virginia Rose Richter. Here we discuss the inspiration behind her second book, Strangers in the Lane, just like babysitting, Jessie and Bryce, her upcoming works, fun facts and more! Enjoy.

  • Read our review for Stranger in the Lane here

Caro: What was the inspiration for this sequel? What made you use a baby monitor?

Virginia Rose Richter: The idea for the sequel came when I heard strange voices coming over my grandson’s baby monitor. I also began to read newspaper accounts of these strange phenomena. Newspapers are my principal source of ideas for stories.

Caro: Why did you decide to include a ‘first crush’ this time around? Even I was captivated by Bryce’s eyes. Was it to trail us off from finding the robbers? 

Virginia Rose Richter: Jessie is such an independent young person and liking boys in not a priority. She has other things on her mind. Then Bryce Peterson appears and everything changes. I wanted to depict that transformation toward young womanhood. I decided to create a boy out of a girl’s dreams. So Bryce is a little more sophisticated (grew up in Manhattan), well mannered and a talented violinist. He also is kind and of course handsome. At first, when Jessie meets Bryce, she loses her focus for the mystery that needs to be solved and fights her feelings for him. But then she gets a grip and returns to herself and her own feisty individualism. Eventually when she gains trust in him she includes him in her plan. His musical talent also inspires her to broaden her outlook and try music herself. The characters of this genre need to display emotional growth in the stories. This was Jessie’s task in “Strangers In The Lane.” I fashioned it as a device to demonstrate a young girl being able to fall in ‘love’ with a boy and still retain her own persona. Once, while I was bringing this manuscript to a critique group comprised of both men and women, several men complained about Bryce. Basically it was: ”Don’t you think Bryce Peterson is a bit ‘too much’? There was a chorus from the women in the group. They said, “Leave Bryce Peterson alone!” Everybody laughed.

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