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Author Brandy Schillace says new mystery book draws inspiration from her life

An image of the cover of the mystery book "The Framed Women of Aredmore House" by author Brandy Schillace.
An image of the cover of the mystery book "The Framed Women of Aredmore House" by author Brandy Schillace.

Dr. Brandy Schillace writes about gender politics and history, medical mysteries, and neurodiversity for outlets such as "Scientific American," "Wired," "CrimeReads," and "Medium."

Schillace has written several works of nonfiction including “Mr. Humble and Dr. Butcher” and “Death's Summer Coat: What Death and Dying Teach Us About Life and Living.”

In her new work of fiction, "The Framed Women of Ardemore House," Schillace delivers a mystery set in England, during which an American woman who inherits an English manor must solve a murder. The protagonist is neurodivergent and hyperlexic, attributes the author shares.

Schillace joined host Jenny Hamel on the “Sound of ideas” on Feb. 13 to discuss her new book. She says the work draws from her lifelong interest in reading mysteries from the greats such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie.

“I just really loved the, the noodling, you know, the actual trying to kind of solve the mystery yourself. And I liked the elements,” said Schillace.

Her new mystery, “The Framed Women of Ardemore House,” has at its center, protagonist, Jo Jones. A character that Schillace says draws some inspiration from her life.

“So we're not the same. I think Jo Jones is much cooler than me. She's much more interesting. So I myself am autistic … And my mind is just wired a little differently. And so, this character partly I wanted to show people what it's like on the inside. So, you get her perspective and you kind of see why she's doing something, then I give you the other perspective, which is the detective's perspective. And you see from the outside what she's doing looks like.”

Schillace says being on the spectrum gives her main character, Jo Jones, an edge in solving the mystery of the book.

“I actually said this not too long ago to someone else that I feel like a lot of our favorite mystery solvers are on the spectrum where, you know, because you are someone who notices a lot of details and we kind of see things laterally or sideways from the direct route," said Schillace.

She says it took her time to become comfortable with and celebrate her own autism, “I actually denied it for a long time."

She wrote an article called “Coming Out Autistic,” about her journey. She says author Eric Garcia and his book, “We’re Not Broken,” that focused on changing the conversation around autism was crucial.

"He helped me see that it's not only okay to be myself, it's also okay to ask for other people to give you some space, because I think I spent so much of my time trying to fit molds other people had that I wasn't very good at asking for accommodation for myself. I feel as though I have blossomed as a person since admitting it.”

“The Framed Women of Ardemore House” is available in bookstores and online.


-Brandy Schillache, Ph.D., Author & Editor in Chief, BMJ Medical Humanities

Jenny Hamel is the host of the “Sound of Ideas.”
Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."