Unraveling the Crime
Hendricks County Author Publishes Second Book In Mystery Series
When Tammi and Bob Huggins retired four years ago, Tammi loved the idea of having extra hours to her day and yet couldn’t help but wonder what she was going to do with all her free time. A former teacher who taught mostly anatomy and physiology classes, she liked to write short articles and wondered what it would be like to try penning a piece of fiction.
“I liked reading mystery books so I thought I’d try writing one myself,” says Tammi, who gave herself a goal of putting pen to paper one day a week. Step one was figuring out the plot and setting. Who would her characters be and what was their purpose? Her husband served as inspiration as he worked for the railroad as a locomotive engineer for 39 years. Tammi used Bob’s usual train trip he took from Indianapolis to St. Louis for her first book, titled “Murder and Misconception.” The book took two years to complete as Tammi taught herself the ins and the outs of the publishing business.
She had fun holding book signings and interacting with fans, who soon began inquiring as to when and if there would be a second book in the series. Immediately the wheels started spinning in her mind. This time the title popped into her head even before the plot took shape.
“I decided to write “Bridges and Bodies” about the Avon Haunted Bridge,” says Huggins, who, having lived in Hendricks County for two decades, had passed by the bridge often. In this book, the locomotive engineer — the same man who solved a crime in the first book — happens to see what he thinks is a body go over the side of the Avon Haunted Bridge. He reports the sighting to the dispatcher, who says, “If you didn’t hit the body, keep moving.” Ultimately, two bodies are discovered — one in White Lick Creek and another beneath the Danville Bridge. As in the first book, the engineer begins looking into these crimes as well.
Tammi, whose past writings were more devotional in nature, enjoyed spreading her wings while diving into this genre.
“Mystery writing is very different than other types of writing in that I have to use my imagination far more,” Tammi says. “Other writing I’ve done takes something that may have happened in real life whereas with fiction, some is made up and other parts are based on facts about modern-day railroad life. With this book, the setting is true but the storyline is made up.”
She calls the process of fiction writing “freeing,” and she has upped her writing goal to two mornings a week. Doing so enables her to create the book scene-by-scene and still provide ample time to mull over in her mind what the characters might do next.
“I don’t know that I could have written this book when I was working my full-time job because anatomy and physiology are ‘just the facts, ma’am.’ It’s using a different part of your brain,” Tammi says. “I don’t think I could have done both simultaneously.”
Tammi, who has two grown daughters and one granddaughter, participates in at least one book signing a month, sometimes at bookstores but often at model train shows since trains are the number one hobby in the nation.
“It’s such a good feeling when someone tells me in person or writes me online to say that they enjoyed my book and ask me what I’m going to do next,” Tammi says.
Fans will be pleased to know that she’s hard at work doing research for book number three.
When she first started mystery writing, Tammi wasn’t aware of all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into marketing material. She’s grateful to bring along her husband — her biggest supporter — to all of her events.
“He’ll stand up a lot of times as people walk by and ask if they like mysteries,” Tammi says. “I don’t get too much rejection, but even if they don’t want to buy a book, they often ask me about my writing or Bob about working on the railroad.”
To help give back to her community, Tammi sometimes speaks about writing at the Hendricks County Senior Center.
“I talk about my journey but also encourage them to write so that they can leave their legacy behind for their children and future generations,” says Tammi, who also shares helpful tips on getting published. For instance, she speaks about persistence, which is not only key in the publishing world but also in succeeding in life, in general.
Upcoming Book Signings for Tammi Huggins
October 12 & 13: Cincinnati Train and Trade Show, Cincinnati, Ohio
October 19: RXR Mania, Fort Wayne, Indiana