When New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf gets writer's block, she takes her dog, Lolo, on a hike at the Mines of Spain, a vastly wooded recreation area just south of Dubuque. This area is where the inspiration for Gudenkauf's latest novel, Not a Sound, emerged.
"One of the ways that I work through [writer's block] is to come out on a walk and start letting ideas flow over me," says Gudenkauf. "It really seems to unblock some of the challenges when I hit a difficult part in a novel."
During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe joins Gudenkauf on a hike at the Mines of Spain to talk about Gudenkauf's latest thriller. Later, the two continue the conversation before an audience at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library in Dubuque, Gudenkauf's hometown.
In Not a Sound, a tragic hit-and-run accident leaves protagonist Amelia Winn deaf. This event sets off a spiral into depression, problem drinking, and the loss of her marriage.
"We're meeting [Amelia] just when she's trying to find her way back to her best self," says Gudenkauf.
While hiking in the woods with her dog, Amelia stumbles across the dead body of a friend, from which a murder mystery unfolds.
Gudenkauf describes Not a Sound as her most personal novel yet; like her protagonist, Gudenkauf experiences deafness in her left ear, although not as severe in degree as Amelia, Gudenkauf says.
Throughout the novel, Gudenkauf shares glimpses of Iowa through her lens as a long-time resident: "There's something about 'Iowa nice,'" says Gudenkauf. "You know, even though we have, of course, in my novels some pretty bad things happen, there's just really good people here, and I think that comes through in my novels too."