On her first trip to Tyler doing research for a book, Anne Ipsen said she felt like she was right at home even though she never lived near there.
Ipsen, an author from Massachusetts, recently released "Running Against The Prairie Winds," which takes place in southwestern Minnesota, mainly in the Tyler area.
Ipsen was born in Denmark and her family lived there until she was 11 years old. She grew up in Boston and attended Radcliffe and then Harvard for graduate school, receiving her doctorate.
After she got married, she and her husband lived in the Twin Cities, where she was a professor at the University of Minnesota. Then she became a full-time writer. Her first book, "A Child's Tapestry of War," was a memoir based on her experiences during the German occupation of Denmark.
"Karen From the Mill" was Ipsen's first historical fiction novel. It is about Karen Andersen, a 16-year-old girl growing up in Denmark who wants to marry a seaman named Peter Larsen. With "Running Against the Prairie Winds," Ipsen brings Karen to the United States, eventually to southwest Minnesota.
Ipsen said the story of Karen living in the Tyler area goes back to an organist from her home church.
"He told me about Tyler and Danebod," Ipsen said.
During one of the Southwest Minnesota State University's Writers Conferences that she attended, she thought she'd go check out the town.
"When I came to Tyler, I felt like I"m just at home," Ipsen said. "I realized I was taking on Karen's persona. I thought Karen wants to move here."
So Ipsen had to invent why her main character would leave the west coast of Denmark for the small town of Tyler. She said the new book is set in 1890, 15 years after "Karen From the Mill" takes place.
"It's sort of what I imagined Tyler would be like, but even smaller," Ipsen said. "She describes the typical prairie town where the roads intersect."
The couple has a friend who the know from back in Denmark, Jesse, a Jewish scholar. There is also a multicultural aspect to her book, Ipsen said.
"All of my books start out with a time and a place," Ipsen said, adding that those elements are kind of like characters in her novels. "It's as much about the place as the people."
But "Prairie Winds" is more about the people, Ipsen said. Karen and Peter own the town's newspaper, and Karen starts to take in immigrant girls. Ipsen said the girls stay with the Larsens for about a year, learning housekeeping and English.
Ipsen said her research comes from "any way" she can. For her first novel, she turned to the University of Minnesota library. With "Prairie Winds," she had access to notes and memoirs from Danebod.
"It's like a network of 'one thing leads to another,'" Ipsen said.
She also found a memoir of a person born in Marshall in the 1870s.
"I have a description of what Marshall was like," Ipsen said.
Ipsen will be doing a reading and book signing from 10 a.m. to noon today at the Lake Benton Library.