Clintonville Spotlight

Love of kayaking, research leads to series

Trudy Brandenburg, author of the “Emma Haines Kayak Mystery” series, shares her love of writing and watersports wherever she goes.

“Well, I’m a writer and researcher at work, I love to kayak and bird watch, and I love Clintonville so it all came together to become the Emma Haines books,” said Brandenburg. The characters work and live in Clintonville, they shop at Weiland’s, eat at the Wildflower, and all kinds of Clintonville places.”

She described Emma as an “older Nancy Drew in a kayak,” and said she has had a lot of friends pushing her to write.

Trudy Brandenburg shows off her books on display and for sale at Weiland’s Market. (Submitted photo)

“I hadn’t really thought about writing fiction until (a friend and I) went to these writers’ conferences,” said Brandenburg, “and my friend said, ‘Why don’t you write a kayak mystery?’ ”

Now Brandenburg finds herself encouraging others. She’s been a featured speaker multiple times for the Women’s Clintonville Book Club, and an exhibitor at the Mozart’s Local Author Event during Holidayville.

A researcher for an insurance company, writing has been a part of Brandenburg’s life in one way or another for a long time. Making the switch to writing fiction was a difficult adjustment.

“It was really hard at first,” said Brandenburg. “I probably wrote the first book 22 times.”

Though she started writing the first book as a series of journal entries about her first trip kayaking down the New River in West Virginia, Brandenburg said the attempt was terrible. “I didn’t even like reading it.”

“What pushed me was reading a lot of mysteries,” she said. “One of my favorite authors is Robert B. Parker, and he has probably inspired me the most.”

Brandenburg attributed a lot of her success with the series to her friends and coworkers, whom she taps for suggestions. “I have access to a really great claims department at work, and one of my friends who kayaks is a claims adjuster, so I bounce ideas off him,” said Brandenburg.

Since then, each successive book has gotten easier to write. “I knew my characters, and I loved them already,” she said. “That’s one thing that I tell people when I teach creative writing classes.”

Brandenburg has taught classes on writing characters through Upper Arlington Lifelong Learning since 2014, and she was a guest speaker at the Thurber House Adult Writing Workshop in 2016.

One of her favorite character-writing exercises to teach involves taking a clipping from a magazine and doing a character study of the person or people on the page.

“I think a lot of times people are afraid to write about people they know,” said Brandenburg, and this exercise gives them a neutral subject.

Outside of writing, Brandenburg loves to promote kayaking. She points to the ease of access there is in Clintonville for people wanting to try it.

Businesses such as Olentangy Paddle and Clintonville Outfitters offer kayak rentals and single-day kayak excursions in the Central Ohio area.”

Within an hour’s drive, there’s a lot of places you can go,” said Brandenburg.

“Kayaking is a lot of fun; but, be mindful that like any other sport you have to be careful.”

Her biggest advice for beginners is to wear a life jacket and be mindful of the weather.

With a fourth installment of the Emma Haines Kayak Mystery series in the works, mystery fans looking for a series with local flavor can purchase the books at Weiland’s Market or on Amazon.

One response to “Love of kayaking, research leads to series”

  1. Shirley Jump says:

    Awesome! 🙂 That really is a great and unique book series!

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