Authors help celebrate opening of new library

August 06, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - When Valerie Malmont was a small child, her mother often read her Frank Baum's "Oz" series as she lay quarantined with a variety of ailments - scarlet fever, chicken pox, measles and mumps.

Malmont became an avid reader, but there were few books around and no library in Okinawa, where the family moved to when she was 8.

So her mother, Margaret Skuse, asked a U.S. Navy captain to donate his ship's library to start a library in the local community. Malmont quickly worked her way through the mysteries, from Margery Allingham to Arthur Upfield. Then she read the science-fiction offerings.

"I even read the Westerns," says Malmont, 68, who lives east of Chambersburg.

Malmont's love of reading led to her becoming a librarian, at the Chambersburg Area School District, among other places, and later to a career of writing mysteries.


On Tuesday, Malmont and several colleagues from the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime will help celebrate the recent opening of the new Smithsburg branch of the Washington County Free Library during an informal authors' reception.

Other members of the female mystery writers' group expected to be at the reception are Donna Andrews, Dana Cameron, Nora Charles, Mary-Jane Deeb, Laura Durham, Mary Ellen Hughes, Sandra Parshall and Marcia Talley, says Patricia Wishard, public relations/program coordinator for Washington County Free Library.

Fans can chat with the authors, who will autograph their works. People can bring their own copies of the authors' books, and there will be copies for sale.

Malmont has written six Tori Miracle mysteries. Miracle is a newspaper editor who solves mysteries in the fictional Lickin Creek, which shares similarities with local Franklin County towns.

Malmont's current projects venture away from that series.

One is a historical novel concerning spiritualism after the Civil War and a young woman who develops into a healing medium and becomes an advocate of the women's rights movement.

The other is a nonfiction project about author Jan Bryant Bartell that Malmont and four other people have spent at least two years researching.

Bartell died before her book, "Spindrift: Spray from a Psychic Sea," was published. The book featured strange happenings or hauntings Bartell wrote about and experienced in her New York City apartment building.

Malmont says reading a lot helps in becoming a good writer because it forms your tastes and teaches writers what sounds right.

"Every week my mother would take me to a second-hand bookstore and I would spend my allowance," says Malmont of her time in Boston before living in Okinawa.

When her mother was stocking the Okinawa library, she often scouted murder mysteries for Malmont.

"It seems kind of funny that she would think that murder is more appropriate than anything else," Malmont says.

If you go ...

WHAT: Sisters-in-Crime Authors' Reception

WHEN: 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8

WHERE: Washington County Free Library's Smithsburg branch, 66 W. Water St., Smithsburg

COST: Free

DIRECTIONS: Take Md. 64 east. Turn left on Md. 66. Cross the railroad tracks. This road becomes Water Street. Just before town Veterans' Park is on the left.

MORE: For more information, call 301-824-7722 or 301-739-3250, ext. 136.

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