After serving nearly 15 years as inaugural managing editor of West Newsmagazine, sister paper of Mid Rivers Newsmagazine, Susan E. Sagarra left the paper in 2010 to pursue her longstanding goal of writing a book.
The March 2015 publication of “Cracks in the Cobblestone,” a mystery novel rich with local ties, marked the fulfillment of her goal.
Recently, Sagarra sat down with MRN to discuss her book.
MRN: Your novel is set in the fictional town of Tirtmansic, with a street that is modeled after Main Street in St. Charles, Mo., where you worked early in your career. Do any of the locations cited in your book have historical significance?
SES: I used the old St. Charles Journal building, where I spent the first five years of my career, to visualize the fictional Main Informer/The Brass Inn. Mug’s Pub is based on what used to be Rumple’s Pub on Main Street, where my dancing girlfriends and I hung out after dance class and became friends with the proprietor. The grounds of the school are inspired by Lindenwood University, my alma mater. I always have loved the arched entranceway, the tree-lined road leading to the buildings, the swings and the gazebo, which are described in the novel.
MRN: How much is the character of cub reporter Meghan Murphy based on Susan Sagarra as a young reporter in St. Charles County?
SES: It is all fiction. Of course some people will see traits of me as a young reporter; however, the real inspiration is from a combination of several cub reporters who started about the same time I did.
MRN: How did your years of covering local government and public servants impact your storyline?
SES: I have witnessed many public servants – both elected and employed by government agencies – trying to improve their communities. But I also have seen many who are corrupt and greedy, and have immense egos and personal agendas. So it was easy to create that part of the storyline.
MRN: In “Cracks in the Cobblestone,” an unseen force prompts the reporter to investigate the mystery. Why did you choose to incorporate the paranormal into your plot line? Have you had personal experience with spiritual forces?
SES: The historic buildings and documented ghost sightings on Main Street-St. Charles created a nice framework to help drive the reporter to the mystery. I have experienced some unexplained happenings, and some of my friends have told me about similar experiences.
MRN: Did you base any of the characters on real people?
SES: The only character who truly is based on someone is the proprietor of Mug’s Pub, Frank Henderson. He is based on Frank Hackney, who was the owner of what was Rumple’s Pub on Main Street-St. Charles. Rebecca was written with my best friend, Marillyn, in mind. Meghan’s editor and publisher are a combination of several ineffective leaders (with the exception of one great managing editor) at the Journals.
Also, Harrison calls his daughter “Sweet Pea,” which was my dad’s nickname for me. My mom’s favorite flowers were gardenias, so that was a way of “including” my parents in the story.
MRN: Can fans of “Cracks in the Cobblestone” look forward to another novel?
SES: I recently completed writing the first draft of my second novel, “The Last Stop,” which tackles every parent’s worst nightmare: children kidnapped from their last bus stop on the way to school. The novel reveals more about Meghan Murphy’s background, and her friend Rebecca returns. Plus, a new detective modeled after Det. Cutter from the first novel becomes an entertaining sidekick for Meghan.
“Cracks in the Cobblestone” is available at Main Street Books in St. Charles, BarnesandNoble.com, Amazon.com, OakTreeBooks.com, and is coming soon to other local bookstores.