Finders Keepers scrapbook

The plot for Finders Keepers is fiction, but the places are not.

My parents bought a cabin near Hayward, Wisconsin nearly 30 years ago. Immediately I thought the setting would be perfect for a kids’ novel. I began to think about the characters of Christa, Alex and Grumpa and the adventures they might have together.

On one of my visits, my parents took me to the Northwoods vacation-land getaway of infamous gangster Al Capone. He’s one of Chicago’s most famous crooks from the Prohibition era, and his vacation home isn’t far from my parents’ cabin. We toured the property, which includes a lake (He owned an entire lake!), a beautiful house, separate garages, and a guard tower.

I read about Capone and learned many people think he hid money in Chicago and Wisconsin’s northwoods before he got arrested.

Capone. Hidden treasure. The beautiful northwoods lakes. The bustling town of Hayward. I had the elements I needed for Finders Keepers.

Check out some photos that inspired the story!

Here’s the front of my parents’ cabin. I envision Christa’s cabin much like this, only bigger. It’d be hard for a family of four to spend an entire summer in a small cabin, right?




Here’s my parents’ boat on Whitefish Lake, the setting for Christa’s cabin. That’s my husband and father.



Here’s the boat landing on Whitefish Lake where I imagined Amelia taking out Sheriff Duncan. (No, that’s not an actual sheriff with his hands in the air. It’s a random guy signaling his buddy to get the boat in the water.)



Main Street, Hayward, Wisconsin.



The candy store in Hayward where the fudge lady works. It’s one of Christa’s favorite places in town. (Mine,too.)



The Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum in Hayward. You can stand in the mouth!



The Moccasin Bar in Hayward inspired Grumpa’s taxidermy.



Check out the taxidermy displayed in the Moccasin bar. Here’s the first:



Here’s the second:



Finally, check out Al Capone’s secret getaway. Sadly, it’s no longer open for tours.




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