ABOUT HELGA STIPA MADLAND
HELGA STIPA MADLAND was born in Upper Silesia, now a part of southwest Poland, in 1939. In 1945, she was a refugee along with her Mother and Sister; Dad, a forester, had been drafted. They left their home village together with her aunt, Tante Hilde, whose husband, Onkel Joseph, was able to help because he was a police detective and had not been drafted, and their three children, Rita, Lothar and Sigrid. Lothar is two days younger than Helga, and the cousins regarded this to be a cause for constant conflict. Later, in West Germany, two more cousins were born, Guenther and Reinhart, a large group of cousins.
In 1954, by way of Canada, the author, her parents Hubert and Ann, sister Ingrid, and brother Michael (born much later in West Germany) moved to the United States. Helga graduated from Helias High School in Jefferson City, Missouri in 1957.
Hubert Stipa was able to obtain a position as a forester in Idaho and lived there, along with his wife Ann, until his death in 2004 at the age of ninety-three. Helga worked as a secretary, something she thought she would never do because she could not type; after a short while, she married Bill (Spike) Madland and they produced three amazing children, Kathryn, Michael and Patrick, who now live with their spouses, Bob, Lisa and Bobbie, in Boise, Seattle and Anchorage. Helga is fortunate to have six grand children, Bobby and Alex, Sydney and Colin, Atticus and Melozie, and two nephews, Christopher, her brother’s son, and Tom, her former sister-in-laws, Joanne’s, son.
Former sister-in-law suggests that the marriage to “Spike” did not last. After completing her B.A. by hook and by crook (night school, correspondence courses, one semester on campus), Helga earned a B.A. in German and English education and taught high school for three years in Twin Falls, Idaho. Eventually, she noticed that Ingrid, her sister, who by then had returned to graduate school in California, earned about the same as a teaching assistant as she earned as a high school teacher in Idaho. Helga applied for graduate study in German and was accepted at the University of Washington, from where she graduate in 1981 with a Ph.D. in German and a minor in Spanish. By then, daughter Kathy had graduated from high school and was about to attend college. Sons Mike and Pat accompanied her to Seattle, where they lived on campus, and undoubtedly received an effective out-of-classroom education.
In 1981, Ph.D. finally in hand, Helga asked her sons, who by then had graduated from high school, if she should accept the assistant professor of German position she had been offered at the University of Oklahoma; they told her: “Mom, if you don’t leave, we might.” Such maturity was difficult to resist. She took the job.
After “rising” to department chair of the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Linguistics at the University of Oklahoma, an institution she generally adores, she retired in 2005 and is now Professor Emeritus at OU.
Last but in no way least, she has been married for twenty years or so, to her second husband (and, believe me, last), Richard Beck, who teaches Ancient Greek at the University of Oklahoma. When he isn’t reading Greek grammar or literature, he is reading international recipes, or worrying about the two dogs, the long-haired dachshund Questor, Peter, a sort of schnauzer-terrier mixture, and four domestic house cats, Tassos, a languid, yellowish feline, Gretel, his tortoise shell sister, Percy, a calico cat, and Fritz, a very hairy cartoon cat. All these animals live with us. In addition, Richard like to garden and travel, in reversed order.
Visit Helga on the web at www.dachshundscanflyhelga.com.
1. Could you please tell us a little about your book?
Turtle Bay is a humorous mystery set at the North Shore of Oahu. During an English Department Conference, one of the professors disappears. Has he been murdered? Has he been kidnapped? Detective Kahamala of the Honolulu Police Department is called in to solve the mystery. Much to his dismay, his daughters, twelve year old twins Myra and Maya, and Aunt Beatrice insist on helping him. Ultimately, it is up to the dachshund, Questor, to set things right again
2. Did something specific happen to prompt you to write this book?
A few years ago, my husband Richard Beck and I visited Turtle Bay Resort in Oahu. As we stood on a rock high above the ocean, dark clouds were rolling in and the waves were roaring. “This would be a fabulous setting for a mystery,” I told Richard, and the novel was conceived.
3. Who is your biggest supporter?
Probably Richard, but I do not let him read my manuscript in their early stages any more because he is so picky.
4. Your biggest critic?
My sister Ingrid Stipa, although she does not say much. When she actually praised Turtle Bay, I was rendered speechless.
5. In the last year have you learned or improved on any skills?
I tried to learn Arabic, but failed. I learned to make a really good dirty martini, though.
6. What are you currently working on?
I am writing my reminiscences titled “You’re Not From Around Here, Are You?” Am now at the point where my family moved to the United States. I am retired now, so I have a long ways to go.
7. What are some of your long term goals?
After completing my reminiscences, I would like to write more about the little detective family I created in Turtle Bay. The tentative title for the next novel is “The Kahamalas Take a Cruise.”
8. What do you feel has been your greatest achievement as an author?
Writing the biography of an eighteenth-century Swiss woman writer, Marianne Ehrmann ,before I retired from the University of Oklahoma. It involved translating her writings I quoted in my book from German to English. Lots of work, but fun.
9. What do you feel sets this book apart from others in the same genre?
It is a comedy, which is usually not the case with mysteries.
A robbery and the disappearance of an English professor at the famous Turtle Bay resort in Oahu, Hawaii keep Detective James Kahamala of the Honolulu Police Department and his family, twin daughters Myra and Maya, Aunt Beatrice, and dachshund Questor on their toes. Follow their adventures into English Department politics and family complications. Ultimately, the dachshund saves the day. A “whimsical” mystery, not to be missed!