Cover for "The Girl in the Wall" by Alison Preston (Signature Editions)
"Former Inspector Frank Foote has left the Winnipeg Police force and gone into home renovations. Tearing down a wall on a job one day he finds the skeleton of a small female. On the trail to discover the girl's identity Frank finds himself drawn back into the past and into the world of the unusual Mrs. Mortimer who lived nearby and had a short-lived business taking photographs of the dead." - Back cover copy, The Girl in the Wall by Alison Preston
If you wrote a novel, where would you set it? Winnipeg author Alison Preston has written six mysteries and all of them are set in the Norwood Flats neighbourhood of Winnipeg.
SCENE asked Alison Preston to explain why Norwood Flats works for her.
I guess the main reason I set my novels in the Norwood Flats is that I'm so familiar with the area. It just seems natural to begin a story a few streets over and one block down. I lived here from when I was three years old till I was twenty and then, after thirteen years away, from the age of thirty-three till now (many years later).
This neighbourhood has its share of legends some of which I was lucky enough to experience first hand. Birchdale Betty comes to mind, a legend in her own right, a woman we used to torture on a regular basis.
She deserved it! She called the police regularly on my friends and me for the slightest indiscretion on our part. I wrote an essay about her once but there's a book there for sure. I hope I write it. She used to reel in elderly women with the promise of friendship and joy and then fleece them of their life savings. We've had our share of odd ducks in the neighbourhood, running the gamut from harmless to seriously dangerous.
There are grand old houses in Norwood and tiny decrepit ones and giant hedges that hide all manner of things. There's the Red River and the mystery of Riverview on the other side. We used to shout at boys across the water when we were thirteen trying out our first cigarettes.
There's the other side of St. Mary's Road, the exotic non-flats section of Norwood where we ventured as we entered high school in our constant search for adventure.
Many people of my generation have moved back here, into their parents' homes or to other houses nearby. We thought it was the centre of the universe in the fifties and sixties and I guess we still do.
Anything can happen here...
Alison Preston (Tracey L. Sneesby)
This content is provided by Alison Preston. The views expressed do not express the views of CBC. CBC is not responsible for this content.