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Here you will find information, musings, and pictures about life, the natural world and writing.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Today: M.E. Kemp, mystery author and pig fancier

Today is a first for this blog: A guest blogger. Please welcome M.E. Kemp, author of Death of A Bawdy Belle, Death of a Dutch Uncle, and Death of A Dancing Master.

A Pig in a Poke

On the very first page of my historical mystery series (featuring two nosy Puritans as detectives,) I introduced a character who was to become a favorite with readers. So popular was my Priscilla that I wrote several short stories featuring her, one of which one first prize in a New England Writers Network contest. Priscilla is a pig -- a very intelligent pig. Indeed, from the children's book, Charlotte's Web, people may have a vague idea that pigs are intelligent animals, as indeed they are. Probably the breed of the highest intelligence is the handsome pig known as the Tamworth. Ginger-colored and long legged, not your regular fat white pig, the Tamworth is the George Clooney of Pigdom. It is a descendant of the European wild boar, less that ferocious ancestor's truculence. In olden days the breed was known as the Irish Grazer, no doubt for its ginger coloring.

Not one to stint on my research, I visited a heritage pig farm as I wrote my first book featuring Priscilla. In upstate New York is located Flying Pigs Farm and its hospitable owner. Mike took me on an informal tour and answered my questions as we tromped over the hills (they felt more like mountains) to get to the field where he kept his pigs. The pint-sized piggies came a-running and a-squealing to greet us. They are very social animals, Mike said as the piggies nibbled on his jean-legs. They'll eat anything, he said, including trying to eat a cell phone that was dropped in the field. Their favorite treat are apples and Mike arranges to take the "windfalls" from a local orchard -- the piggies don't care if there's a brown spot or a mushy spot on their treats.

Much to my relief it turns out that everything I had Priscilla do in my book a Tamworth would do, including 'going on walk-about,' as the Aussies say. A Tamworth will take off to explore the countryside for a couple days and then he/she will return home to the farm. I came away from my tour with a greater admiration for pigs than ever before. And yes, I do have a collection of pig-mobilia.

That night my hubby and I went out for dinner at a local restaurant. I noted that on the menu they carried pork from Flying Pigs Farm. "Oh," I said to the young waitress, "I just came from there! The piggies are just the cutest things!" At which the waitress said she wished I hadn't told her that, covered her mouth and ran for the bathroom. Needless to say, I didn't order the pork.

Read more about M.E. (Marilyn) Kemp HERE.

Read about Death of A Dancing Master HERE.

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