What’s In Your Attic?
By Anne Hawkinson
The characters in my middle-grade mystery are lucky – they’re at a Gothic mansion in
northern Minnesota and the woman who owns the place is going to bring them up to the attic.
No, she’s not going to lock them up there and leave. Isabel’s not that kind of person.
The three characters in my story are doing research for homework assignments they have
to complete because they’ve been excused from school and Isabel has offered to take them up
and let them have a look around.
Now I have to figure out what’s up there and how important it is. Is it just part of “stuff
in an attic” or is it a significant bit that is going to play a part later on in the story? I have to
decide if the old floor lamp and steamer trunk are props or if they’re story clues. If they’re clues,
they have to appear or have some role to play before the story ends. I have to choose carefully.
That shoe box of old photos looks interesting. I think I can do something with that.
Christmas decorations? Probably not. My story takes place in October – too early for holiday
Not everyone has an attic anymore. And the more “modern” ones I’ve seen are not as
interesting as the ones I was in when I was little. The one at my house was dimly-lit, cramped,
and most times you had to crawl on your hands and knees to find what you were looking for.
Access to ours was through a small, easy-to-miss wooden door in my brother’s bedroom. I don’t
remember a light in there, so we were always dragging around a flashlight to help us find our
way. It had an interesting smell. Dusty, with close air that didn’t get refreshed more than two or
three times a year. It was scary and exciting at the same time.
The attic in my story is one you can stand up in, with windows and electric lights. After
all, it’s in a mansion. No wimpy attics here. There’s a wooden armoire full of clothes, which
Laura is going to love. One wall holds a bookcase full of old books – Maggie will be checking
that out because she loves to read. Raza will wander around, filming it all until he stumbles upon
some old cameras.
The attic where I grew up exists only in my memory, but there’s plenty of old, dusty stuff
to choose from. And you can bet that some of the stuff from that attic in Duluth is going to show
up at Moz Hollow!