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Writing on the Road: Novelist Sue Henry, by Jaimie Hall

Sue Henry
Sue Henry

It's no surprise that many RVers are would-be writers. While most RV writing consists of how-to or destination pieces, we now have a fiction series whose main character is an RVer. Sue Henry's sixty-something woman RVer isn't the usual protagonist in a murder mystery, but it works. The first whodunit in the series, The Serpents Trail, finds Maxie McNabb and her mini-dachshund Stretch traveling in her Minnie Winnie from Alaska to Grand Junction, Colorado, to her dying friend's aid.

I was introduced to author Sue Henry's writing and characters Maxie and Stretch on a trip down the Alaska Highway. We stopped at Dawson Peaks Resort near Teslin in the Yukon, the setting for the final scenes in Dead North, another of Henry's mysteries. The story unfolds along the Alaska Highway, so it was fun reading about places we had visited like Liard Hot Springs. Readers enjoyed Maxie, so now she has her own series.

I recently spoke by telephone with Sue Henry who was at her home in Alaska. Though she had dreamed of writing a novel, it didn't happen until she was in her fifties. Murder on the Iditarod Trail was going to be her only book but it won awards, and readers liked it. She has been writing ever since. The twelfth, Murder at Five Finger Light, will be out next spring, and she's working on the thirteenth, The Tooth of Time, which will be published in spring 2006.

Alice Zyetz & Jaimie HallAlice Zyetz and Jaimie Hall have been RVing fulltime with their husbands for more than ten years each. Together they have published two books on the RV Lifestyle: RV Traveling Tales and The Woman's Guide to Solo RVing. In addition, Jaimie's popular Support Your RV Lifestyle! is an invaluabe resource for those who want to make a living on the road, and Alice's You Shoulda Listened to Your Mother offers secrets of success for working women. In this monthly column, Alice and Jaimie explore facets of RV life, lifestyle products, and a variety of RV issues, joys, and challenges. For more information, you can reach Jaimie and Alice at and


Curious about the writing process, I asked Henry how she chose her setting for The Serpent's Trail. She had visited Grand Junction several times and her father was born there, so it was familiar. Readers there are delighted she got the names of streets and businesses right. Did she own a dog? Stretch is based on her neighbor's mini-dachshund, and the neighbor's RV bears a sign, "Stretch lives here."

The titles for the Maxie and Stretch series come from local landmarks. Who could resist "The Serpents Trail" in Colorado National Monument, especially when located between the Devil's Kitchen and Cold Shivers Point? "The Tooth of Time" is a prominent landmark rising high above the Philmont Scout Ranch outside Cimarron, New Mexico; the second Maxie and Stretch book will be set there and in Taos.

Henry has owned and rented motorhomes for many years, though she is currently between RVs. Driving RVs came easy after driving the Fairbanks bookmobile in the 1970s. Designed especially for Alaska, it had an 18-wheeler cab, galley, an electrical umbilical cord, and a big propane tank for starting the motor in sub-freezing weather. Henry has also traveled the Alaska Highway four times in a motorhome.


I asked Henry for advice for would-be RV writers. "You need a laptop," she said. "It saves having to carry reference books."

Other tips:

After thoroughly enjoying The Serpents Trail, I eagerly await the next Maxie and Stretch mystery,The Tooth of Time.

Jaimie Hall

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