Secrets: Points to Ponder

While creating the trailer for Secrets of the Asylum, I kept rolling over in my mind the comments and questions regarding the book that folks have posed on Facebook and Twitter. So here are some points to ponder, first notes to answer some of your questions about how I came up with this story and then some questions from me to get you thinking about your own reactions to the book.

These questions are great for your own private musings or for public discussion, such as a coffee klatsch or book club. I’ve also included the resources I used to research time and place, in case you’d like to investigate more on your own.

I’d love to read your comments here.

Author’s Notes:

Elizabeth lived in my head for two years before I knew the setting for her story. She’d sink into my thoughts during yoga, while walking my dog, and as I nodded off to sleep at night. Then I toured the former Northern Michigan Asylum and immediately knew that was where she belonged.

I also recognized there were undoubtedly many secrets like hers buried within the walls of that stalwart institution that had harbored the “insane” for almost a century. 

When I visited my Aunt Hope, who resided in Cottage 23 after it had become an assisted living facility, I knew that her room, with its spectacular tall ceiling and long windows affording a view of the lush yard, would be Elizabeth’s room during that earlier era.

As soon as I decided it would be Elizabeth’s twenty-one-year-old daughter who would seek out the truth about her mother’s situation and that the year would be 1921, I knew this would be the first book of a trilogy. The second book takes place in 1942 and the third in 1963. Yes, each time a daughter turns twenty-one another romantic suspense tale will be revealed.

Now I’m bursting to tell those stories, Secrets of the Island and Secrets of Summer. So stay tuned. This family’s generations of dark deceptions will come to light one-by-one in 2018 and 2019.

Questions for You:

  1. What did you think of Elizabeth in the beginning of the book? Did you admire or abhor her bohemian behavior? Why?
  2. What would you have liked most and least about living in 1921?
  3. Do you believe in psychics like Abby? Have you visited one? If you have, what’s the most profound reading you’ve ever had?
  4. Are you aware of how the mentally ill are treated today, now that “asylums” are gone? What would you suggest to improve treatment?
  5. What do you think should happen in the next book, in 1942 when Meg’s daughter turns twenty-one?


This certainly isn’t an inclusive list, as I did a boat-load of research for this book. However, these are the books and documents I found to be most helpful. Naturally, I used many online sources are well, readily available if you search.

  • Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane: A History of the Traverse City State Hospital, by William A. Decker 
  • Traverse City State Hospital (Images of America), by Chris Decker 
  • Angels in the Architecture: A Photographic Elegy to an American Asylum (Great Lakes Book Series), by Heidi Johnson and Nancy Tomes 
  • Beauty is Therapy: Memories of the Traverse City State Hospital, by Kristin M. Hains and Earle E. Steele 
  • Report of the Board of Trustees of the Northern Michigan Asylum at Traverse City, June 30, 1908 
  • The Traverse City State Hospital Training School for Nurses, by Virginia M. LeClaire 
  • Traverse City, Michigan: A Historical Perspective, 1850-2013, by Richard Fidler 
  • Michigan Railroads & Railroad Companies, by Graydon M. Meints 
  • Justus S. Stearnes: Michigan Pine King and Kentucky Coal Baron, 1845-1933 (Great Lakes Book Series), by Michael W. Nagle 
  • Al Capone’s Beer Wars: A Complete History of Organized Crime in Chicago During Prohibition, by John J. Binder 
  • American Family of the 1920s: Paper Dolls in Full Color, by Tom Tierney
  • I readily confess I spent too much time looking at 1920s fashion. It was wonderful!

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