Tell us about this new creation of yours—Cigarette Boy. That’s such a unique name!
When I wrote my first novel, A Trace of Smoke, I researched the gay cabaret culture of Weimar Berlin. The main character was a crime reporter named Hannah Vogel, and her brother Ernst had been immersed in that culture before his murder. Originally, I had scenes in his voice from beyond the grave, but the scenes confused some initial readers, so I cut them out. But I always wanted to give Ernst Vogel a chance to tell his own stories. It took me a long time to get back to him (sorry, Ernst!), but with Cigarette Boy, I finally did.
Ernst is the club headliner—a talented singer who draws a crowd. One night before the show he watches the new cigarette boy. In some clubs, from the 1920s through the 1960s, cigarette girls wore special costumes and carried around trays of cigarettes, matches, gum, and other small items. Since Ernst works at a gay cabaret club, the cigarette girl is actually a cigarette boy, so that became the title Unfortunately for the cigarette boy, he’s murdered. When the police aren’t interested in solving the crime, Ernst investigates the murder himself.
Tell us about the setting for this story.
In 1931 Berlin, the club scene was extraordinary. Ernst’s club is based on a real club, El Dorado, where some of the most talented performers of the day came to put on shows, including Marlene Dietrich. It’s full of men dressed like men. Men dressed like women. Women dressed like women. Women dressed like men. Fancy clothes, smoky jazz, backstage intrigues, and passionate Communists fighting and dancing with angry Nazis. The world would soon be on the brink of war, but nobody knew that yet. They just wanted good music, cigarettes, expensive liquor, dancing, and for the roaring twenties to never end!
What was your experience like writing this?
It was great fun! I recently reacquired the rights to the four books in the series, and was anxious to get back into the world of Berlin in the 1930s. I’d always wanted to tell one of Ernst’s stories, and I was so grateful to finally have the opportunity. Of course, as my luck would have it, I left Berlin before I started working on the story, so research was challenging. Yes, I wrote four Berlin books in Hawaii, moved to Berlin and did not write a single book set there while I lived there, then moved back to Hawaii and almost immediately wrote a story set in Berlin. I realize how crazy that is. I appear to be writing my books out of order with my life, as if I’m deliberately trying to make things as complicated as possible. So far, so good.
Say a little abut the Hannah Vogel Box Set Collector’s Edition?
The collector’s edition includes the first three Hannah Vogel novels:
- A Trace of Smoke, set in Berlin in 1931 where Hannah discovers her brother’s photo in the Hall of the Unnamed Dead and vows to find his killer. Along the way she meets up with a boy who claims she is his mother and a handsome banker whom she struggles to trust.
- A Night of Long Knives, set in Munich and Berlin in 1934 where Hannah is thrust back into Nazi Germany on the eve of the large purge where more than a thousand political opponents of Hitler were killer overnight. Hannah walks through this blood-stained landscape to try and find her missing son.
- A Game of Lies, set during the Berlin Olympics of 1936, finds Hannah back in Berlin as a reporter covering the games, but also working as a spy for the British. Although Berlin seems bright and peaceful, she knows it’s a facade covering darkness as she investigates the death of her one time mentor and worries that even her most trusted allies will betray her.
The Collector’s Edition also includes the Ernst Vogel short story prequel, Cigarette Boy, and extra book covers sprinkled throughout like Easter eggs.
If you’re not interested in the extra content, there is a standard edition coming out soon with just the novels for sale as well for a lower price.
Where can we purchase the collector’s edition?
The collector’s edition is available as an ebook at the usual suspects:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble | iBooks | Kobo
Learn more about Rebecca Cantrell