Today’s guest blogger is Dorothy St. James, author of Flowerbed of State. Here’s a picture of Dorothy and her husband, Jim, at their visit with the State Department.

One of the troubles of writing about a character who works at the White House is the heavy security and veil of secrecy that can be the bane of the curious mystery novelist. The White House tour, while a wonderful experience, only allows the visitor the chance to briefly peek at a few of the many rooms. No cameras allowed.

Although the Secret Service agents on duty throughout the tour were very knowledgeable and patiently answered all of my questions, I didn’t get to see the really interesting bits of the White House like the grounds office, the kitchens or the situation room.

Luckily, a little competitive charitable giving last year through Brenda Novak’s Annual Action for the Cure of Diabetes (going on now) whisked me away on an exciting adventure that took me to some of the behind the scenes secret places at the State Department, including the top secret Operations Center and the not so secret, but delicious lunch, at the Diplomatic Dining Room. Again, no cameras allowed in the Operations Center. But I did garner some wonderful information.

In addition to helping plot my White House Gardener Mystery books, the research trip got me to thinking about the “secret places” in our own lives. For me I’ve kept secret my writing. I’ve held that part of me in that dark, forlorn place for so long (practically all my life) that I now struggle every time I’m asked to talk about my work, my passion. Judging by my bright red blush, you might think someone had asked to take a peek at my…er…bloomers!

Perhaps reticence to talk about my passion for writing comes from my Southern upbringing. We don’t talk about such things. Or perhaps my embarrassment grew out of some deep-seated neurosis that should leave me draped languidly across a shrink’s sofa.

I don’t know, nor do I really want to.

But as a mystery novelist, my life is all about exposing secrets. So I stand before you, no longer hiding who I am. Like Casey Calhoun, the organic gardener/sleuth in Flowerbed of State, I’m going to treat everyone I meet as if she were a long-lost friend.

So here’s my big secret. I’m not a profession beach bum as I’ve been telling everyone.

I am a mystery novelist.

There. I’ve said it.

Do you have any secret passions that you’ve been hiding from everyone around you? Is there value in talking about your passions with others or should you hid them away to keep them protected? What do you think?

Dorothy St. James is the PROUD author of the White House Gardener Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. Catch Casey Calhoun, the White House’s newest addition to the gardening staff, in her first adventure in Flowerbed of State. Learn more about Dorothy, her secrets, and her gardening adventures at her website, on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.