Inside The Devil’s Half Mile with Historical Fiction Author Paddy Hirsch

The Devils Half MIle image

 

 

1799 New York – A Hell of a Town

 

Interview

 

What led you to become a historical fiction writer?

I became an historical novelist rather by accident. I wrote a non-fiction book called Man vs Markets in 2001 with HarperCollins. It’s a book that uses analogy and humor to explain the financial markets. I wanted to do a follow-up on how an actual financial market gets formed and why, and I wanted to focus on the US markets and the creation of the New York Stock Exchange, both of which were created in a comparatively short time after the Revolutionary War. It was very interesting in principle: the market was created with very few rules, and the result was a dysfunctional mess that was not particularly good at raising capital  – which is what the matte is supposed to do. After the markets, and the economy nearly collapsed in America’s first financial crisis, The Great Panic of 1792, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson had a debate about whether they should make some rules for traders, or just let laissez faire persist. Are you still with me? Yeah, so it wasn’t really that interesting at all. in fact it was pretty bloody boring, and I realized I was doing a lot of research but no writing. So I started to write a little sidebar to the history narrative, a fictional soupçon that involved a murder and lawyer and a bunch of Irish gangsters. That was much more interesting, and I ended up ditching the history and sticking to the novel. And here we are!

 

 

 

Wall Street road sign, Lower Manhattan, New York City

 

 

 

What interested you to write about 1799 New York?

1799 was a very interesting year for New York. The city had been the capital of the United States, but was no longer. The State passed a law for the gradual abolition of slavery that year, and it was the year before the turn of the century, which is always an interesting time.

 

 

 

5th Avenue (Ave) Sign, New York NYC

 

 

 

Describe the historical context of this time period.

Both the city and the country were on the cusp of a lot of things, politically, socially and economically. The industrial revolution had begun, but hadn’t really reached America by this point: the canals hadn’t been dug, and technology transfer from Europe was still in its infancy, which was why slave labor was so important to the economy at the time. Momentum was gathering for abolition, and almost all of the Northern States had fallen in line at this point, so the scene was set for dispute with the south. Abolition in New York drew black people  – free African Americans and runaway slaves – to the city in large numbers. That set up a good deal of tension with the Irish, as both groups were generally not educated and were shut out of society and economic advancement, which meant they competed for the same jobs. The Irish had not yet started to come in the numbers they would when the Famine hit Ireland, 50 years later, but interest was picking up, and they were probably the largest immigrant group in the city at the time. The City fathers were beginning to realize that a lot of people were going to come to New York over the next few decades, and they’d better get ready. So they began drawing up a plan of Manhattan, anticipating that they’d need to pave over the entire island. This when the city boundaries had not even reached what is now Canal Street. It was a good thing they had that foresight: in 1800 there were about 60,000 people in the city, but just sixty years later, the count was up to a million.  

Meanwhile, America was in a kind of on-again off-again war with the English, which made trade difficult, and crimped the economy somewhat. But the country’s financial markets were developing in New York and Philadelphia, and America was realizing its promise as a country extraordinarily wealthy in commodities of all kinds. Essentially, in 1799, America was about to enter a serious boom, which makes it a very exciting time to write about.

 

 

 

1799 New York image

 

 

 

What’s the story behind the name Devil’s Half Mile aka Wall Street?

I found the nickname the Devil’s Half mile in a letter that I found in the Library of Congress. I’d like to say everyone thought of Wall Street as a place that the Devil reigns supreme, but It is the only reference that I have ever found. Which is probably not surprising, as Wall Street is only about a third of a mile long, and that’s with the landfill!

 

 

What contribution did Alexander Hamilton make at that time?

Alexander Hamilton had all but retired from public life by 1799, and within five years he’d be dead, shot to death in a duel with his old enemy Aaron Burr. his influence on New York and on Wall Street can’t be overestimated. He was a forceful proponent of abolition, and he was the savior of Wall Street during the Great Panic. He engineered a bank bailout that restored faith in the financial system and prevented a run on the banks that could have brought the nascent US economy to its knees. In 1799, he was an ordinary lawyer and investor, but he was still hugely influential in New York political and  financial circles. And socially, too, even if he did live a long way up Manhattan island on his estate.

 

 

 

Macro shot of ten dollars banknote

 

 

 

Who is Justy Flanagan and what’s his role in the story?

Justy is a new American, born in New York to Irish parents. His father and uncle emigrated from Ireland after the Revolutionary War, and while his father decided to take the high road and try to carve out a career as a trader, his uncle opted for the waterfront, where he lords it over the Irish gangs, who call him The Bull. Justy’s mother  died when he was young, and his father was found hanged in his hallway in the wake of the Great Panic. Everyone assumed suicide, and the Bull took Justy in and sent him to the new Catholic University at Maynooth in Ireland. While there, Justy studies law, and dabbles in criminology. He realizes his father could not have killed himself and must have been murdered. So he returns to New York to find out whodunit and why.

 

 

Tell us some interesting facts you learned about in your research.

I was struck by the lawlessness of the United States and New York at the time. It’s not really surprising when you think about it: America broke away from Britain because it objected to all those rules, after all. It makes sense, then, that the founders wanted to design a society that was quite libertarian. And that meant very few rules. Pretty much anything went back in those days. Drugs, booze, prostitution, littering, driving on the wrong side of the road, selling dodgy investments; it was all quite legal. The only real crimes were those against person and property. I was also struck by the opposition to having a police force. I knew that the NYPD wasn’t really formed until 1845, even though the city experienced a tremendous rise in criminality starting in the 1820s, but I didn’t know why. The expense, which was considerable, was only half the reason. It turns out that there was also considerable opposition to having anything remotely resembling a standing army in the city. During the Revolutionary War, the British Army was garrisoned inside the city. At the hint of any unrest, the army was broken out of barracks and told to crack heads. New Yorkers were very resentful of this, and wanted to be sure the like of it never happened again. The concept of a police force looked a lot like an army to many, which was why it took so long to form one.

 

 

 

What’s next for you?

I’m publishing a  sequel to The Devil’s Half Mile, called Hudson’s Kill. It comes out on 17 September. And meanwhile I’m working on a couple of things: I’m building a series that my UK publisher is calling Lawless New York, which I rather like. I have ideas for as many as eight ideas in total. And I’m also working on a contemporary novel, set simultaneously in Los Angeles and Belfast, Northern Ireland. And I still have my day job, editing an NPR economics podcast, called The Indicator from Planet Money.

 

 

 

Paddy Hirsch image

 

 

 

Paddy Hirsch is an author and Murrow award-winning journalist. His first novel is The Devil’s Half Mile, an historical thriller with a financial twist, set in New York in 1799.

He is the author of Man vs Markets; Economics Explained, Plain and Simple. Publisher’s Weekly called the book ” “A straightforward, accessible, and often hilarious overview of our financial and economic systems, products, and concepts.”

He works as a supervising editor at NPR’s planet Money. He is also the creator and host of Marketplace Whiteboard, an award-winning video explainer of financial and economic terms.

 

Paddy Hirsch | Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Mysteries with K.B. Owen

KB Owen

 

 

INTERVIEW

 

 

What do you enjoy most about writing historical mysteries?

I’ve always enjoyed reading historical mysteries, and writing them feels much the same (though more work, haha). I love stepping back into a different time, whether it’s through research or while plotting within the worlds of my characters. I’ve known them all for so long now, after seven books in one series and three books in another.

 

 

How important is the setting in historical fiction?

Since the term “setting” indicates both place and time, I would say that setting is absolutely crucial to historical mysteries. A given time period will influence and constrain the main characters of a story in terms of travel, communication, the interpretation of evidence, their comportment while out in society, and so on.

 

 

 

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What is the Pinkerton Agency?

It was the first major private investigation and security agency, founded by Scotsman-turned-American Allan Pinkerton in 1855. The icon is an open eye that reads “We Never Sleep,” hence the term “private eye.” The Pinkertons were mostly men, and the work was both subtle (acting as covert operatives and infiltrating criminal organizations) and brutish (strike-breaking and security). Pinkertons have broken up criminal syndicates, protected President Lincoln in one early attempt called the Baltimore Plot (this was before the Secret Service guarded presidents), thwarted bank robberies and train robberies…the list goes on.

There were a few women operatives—Kate Warne being the most notable of them—and their assignments were more of the covert variety, which is where my protagonist, Pen Hamilton, comes in.

In Never Sleep: The Chronicle of a Lady Detective #1, describe the nature of Penelope’s relationship with her estranged husband.

If it were a Facebook designation, it would read: It’s Complicated. As the Chronicles continue, I reveal more of their past, both the good and the bad. Frank Wynch is a recovering alcoholic and that of course makes any relationship difficult. The two love each other after a fashion, but whether they can make it work is another question—especially on Pen’s side, as she’s quite guarded around him. In Never Sleep, Frank asks Pen to help him with a case. It’s the first time they’ve spent any time together since their separation. She agrees, despite her discomfort—she wants to secure a job in her own right at the Pinkerton Agency, and the successful outcome of the case with Frank would make that possible.

By the way, any interested readers can get a free ebook of NEVER SLEEP when they sign up for my book news (twice yearly) newsletter: Subscribe

 

 

 

Never Sleep KB Owens

 

 

 

In The Mystery of Schroon Lake Inn: the Chronicle of a Lady Detective #2, who is William Pinkerton and what is his role in the story?

William Pinkerton, son of the agency’s founder Allan Pinkerton, runs the Pinkerton Chicago office by this time. He assigns this case (and others) to Pen. He gets a bit more involved this time around, as he comes up with a disguise Pen can use to better infiltrate the inn and keep an eye on the guests. Pen has never posed as a spirit medium before…can she pull it off? She’d have to be truly clairvoyant to know….

 

In The Case of the Runaway Girl: The Chronicle of a Lady Detective #3, what is Penelope going up against?

Pen is up against quandaries that are both professional and personal in book #3. Professionally, she’s navigating the powerful worlds of big business and back-room politics (with some anarchists thrown in) as she works to keep the two young ladies in her charge safe from unscrupulous people.

Personally, there is the complication of another love interest in the form of the dashing, somewhat-reformed Phillip Kendall. He’s very interested in Pen and she’s drawn to him despite herself, even though she doesn’t fully trust him. Is he truly reformed, or is he out for himself?

 

 

 

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What are some interesting historical facts of the 1880’s?

That’s quite an open-ended question, but I’m happy to share a fun backstory I picked up while researching THE CASE OF THE RUNAWAY GIRL. Several scenes from that book take place at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (now the site of the Renwick Gallery). The building was so grand in its heyday and housed such a wonderful collection it was dubbed “The American Louvre.”

William Corcoran, a very wealthy businessman with southern sympathies, had acquired an extensive art collection and in 1859 commissioned the gallery to be built to house it all. The site was prime real estate, at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street.

However, when the Civil War started, things got too hot for him, so he decided to move himself and his family to Europe to wait out the war. The Corcoran Gallery was mostly completed by then, though not the interior. The Quartermaster Corps seized Corcoran’s building to use as a supply depot for the Union Army, and proceeded to finish the interior with cheap materials and partition the space into storage rooms and offices.

William Corcoran returned after the war and wanted his gallery back. It was returned to him in 1869, but not the back rent that he claimed he should be paid. He worked with the original architect to have all the modifications ripped out and the gallery completed, which opened in 1874.

If you want to read more, I recommend American Louvre by Charles J. Robertson (D. Giles Ltd, 2015).

 


What’s next for you?

I just finished book #7 of the Concordia Wells mysteries…UNSEEMLY FATE. By the time this interview comes out, it will be released!

 

 

 

 

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Beware of rich men bearing gifts…

It’s the fall of 1899 and the new Mrs. David Bradley—formerly Professor Concordia Wells of Hartford Women’s College—is chafing against the hum-drum routine of domestic life.

That routine is soon disrupted, however, by the return to Hartford of the long-hated but quite rich patriarch of her husband’s family, Isaiah Symond. His belated wedding gift is a rare catalogue by artist/poet William Blake, to be exhibited in the college’s antiquities gallery.

But when Symond is discovered in the gallery with his head bashed in and the catalogue gone, suspicion quickly turns from a hypothetical thief to the inheritors of Symond’s millions—Concordia’s own in-laws. She’s convinced of their innocence, but the alternatives are equally distressing. The gallery curator whom she’s known for years? The school’s beloved handyman?

Once again, unseemly fate propels Concordia into sleuthing, but she should know by now that unearthing bitter grudges and long-protected secrets to expose a murderer may land her in a fight for her life.

 

 

Available May 1st at these online retailers:

Amazon: Amazon

BN, Apple, Kobo: books2read.com

 

 

KB Owen

 

 

 

 

About K.B. Owen

 

K.B. taught college English for nearly two decades at universities in Connecticut and Washington, DC, and holds a doctorate in 19th century British literature.

A mystery lover ever since she can remember, she drew upon her teaching experiences to create her amateur sleuth, Professor Concordia Wells. There are seven books in the Concordia Wells Mysteries so far.

K.B. also has another series, about the adventures of a lady Pinkerton in the 1880s, entitled Chronicles of a Lady Detective. There are three novellas/novels in the Lady Detective series so far.

 

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Writing Historical Mystery with Rhys Bowen

Rhys in LA 2006

 

 

Interview with Rhys Bowen

 

I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing historical mystery author Rhys Bowen regarding her writing, and more specifically, the 12th book of the Royal Spyness series – Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding.

 

 

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding ebook image

 

 

In the days leading up to her wedding to Darcy O’Mara, Lady Georgiana Rannoch takes on the responsibilities of a grand estate, but proving she can run a household just may be the death of her in the new Royal Spyness Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service.

If only Darcy and I had eloped! What I thought would be a simple wedding has been transformed into a grand affair, thanks to the attendance of the queen, who has offered up the princesses as bridesmaids. Silly me! I thought that withdrawing from the royal line of succession would simplify my life. But before Darcy and I tie the knot in front of queen and country, we have to find a place to live as man and wife…

House hunting turns out to be a pretty grim affair. Just as we start to lose hope, my globetrotting godfather offers us his fully staffed country estate. Mistress of Eynsleigh I shall be! With Darcy off in parts unknown, I head to Eynsleigh alone, only to have my hopes dashed. The grounds are in disarray and the small staff is suspiciously incompetent. Not to mention the gas tap leak in my bedroom, which I can only imagine was an attempt on my life. Something rotten is afoot—and bringing the place up to snuff may put me six feet under before I even get a chance to walk down the aisle…

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

 

 

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW

 

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding is book #12 in the Royal Spyness series set in 1930’s London. An absolute blast to read and very entertaining on many levels. Told in the point of view of Lady Victoria Georgiana Rannoch, the story unravels seamlessly until the very end. I was very captivated by the humorous tone and style of writing by Rhys Bowen. I listened to the audiobook version and laughed out loud several times! The ability to capture each character within the time period was very impressive. Lady Georgiana, affectionately “Georgy” is so adorable as she plans for her wedding, prepares a new home, and attempts to solve a mysterious murder. This review is based on the audiobook version with exceptional new series narrator Jasmine Blackborow.

 

 

INTERVIEW

 

What do you love most about writing history?

Rhys: I love writing about the 1930’s in the Royal Spyness series because it was such a fascinating time, poised between two world wars. A time of great contrasts, haves and have-nots, Fascism and Communism fighting for control of Europe and of course my delicious Royal scandals. My big stand alone novels take place in WWI and II, times of heightened emotion, of good vs evil and the comforting knowledge that good prevailed.

And for historical mysteries all those lovely motives: I love Another but I am not free etc!

 

 

“History will be kind to me; for I intend to write it.” – Winston Churchill

 

 

Do you have a certain method for researching a story?

Rhys: it all starts with a sense of place. I do my background reading of the true historical framework then I have to go to the place and experience it myself

 

 

 

Research text on keyboard button

 

 

 

How important is setting for historical fiction writers?

Rhys: for me setting drives many of my stories. NAUGHTY IN NICE. TIME OF FOG AND FIRE. Etc etc

And it’s important to get every detail right. I read biographies, accounts of battles, diaries, study old maps

 

 

What’s the historical context behind Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding?

Rhys:  it was high time that my protagonist got married. It is summer 1935 and as she goes to Ascot with Queen Mary and King George she realizes the king does not look well. He will, of course, die that winter. And I’m looking forward to stories when the Prince of Wales becomes king.

 

 

 

Wedding engagement pic

 

 

 

Who is Lady Georgiana Rannoch’s godfather and what role does he play in the story?

He is Sir Hubert Anstruther, a mountaineer and explorer. Her mother was once married to him and she has fond memories of the childhood days at his house. He was fond of her and wanted to adopt her. She was one of three heirs but the other two came to bad ends in the first book of the series,

 

 

What did inheriting a country estate detail back then?

Rhys: she hasn’t inherited it as he is still alive. This is lucky as if Sir Hubert had died she’d have to pay a fortune in death duties ( estate taxes)

I imagine this is an informal arrangement between them with the understanding that the estate will be legally hers when he dies.

 

 

 

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Describe the emotional state of Lady Georgiana and Darcy O’Mara as they prepare for marriage.

Goodness, they are British! They don’t have emotional states. They just get on with things!  Actually Georgie in naturally excited. Darcy seems to be taking it in his stride. Georgie can’t believe that everything is going right for once… This is before the various roadblocks appear.

 

 

What were weddings like in that time period?

Much simpler than now. An afternoon ceremony, then cake, champagne, a few speeches and the couple drives off on their honeymoon.

 

 

 

Champagne wedding

 

 

 

What’s next for you?

I have just published another stand-alone, THE VICTORY GARDEN.

 

Victory Garden image

 

IN August another Georgie novel, this time set in Kenya. It’s called LOVE AND DEATH AMONG THE CHEETAHS. Pre-order now and available August 6, 2019. 

AND I’m just finishing a book about Queen Victoria.

Not idle!

 

 

 

Rhys in LA 2006

 

 

“I’m a New York Times bestselling mystery author, winner of both Agatha and Anthony awards for my Molly Murphy mysteries, set in 1902 New York City.

I have recently published two internationally bestselling WWII novels, one of them a #1 Kindle bestseller, the other selling almost half a million copies to date.

I also write the Agatha-winning Royal Spyness series, about the British royal family in the 1930s. It’s lighter, sexier, funnier, wicked satire. It was voted by readers as best mystery series one year.

I am also known for my Constable Evans books, set in North Wales, and for my award-winning short stories. “

I was born and raised in England but currently divide my time between California and Arizona where I go to escape from the harsh California winters

When I am not writing I love to travel, sing, hike, play my Celtic harp.

 

Website | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Historical Mystery Author Jennifer Kincheloe

Jennifer Kincheloe author pic 2

 

 

Jennifer is a research scientist turned writer of historical fiction. Her novels take place in 1900s Los Angeles among the police matrons of the LAPD and combine, mystery, history, humor, and romance. THE WOMAN IN THE CAMPHOR TRUNK was released in November, 2017. Her debut novel, THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC was a finalist in the Lefty Awards for Best Historical Mystery, The Colorado Author’s League Award for Best Genre Fiction, the Macavity Sue Feder Award for Historical Mystery, and is the WINNER of the Mystery & Mayhem Award for Historical Mystery and the Colorado Gold for Best Mystery.

Jennifer grew up in Southern California, but has traveled to such places as Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and Papua New Guinea. She’s been a block layer, a nurse’s aid, a fragrance model, and on the research faculty at UCLA, where she spent 11 years conducting studies to inform health policy. Jennifer currently lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and two teenagers, two dogs, and a cat. There she conducts research on the jails.

 

 

 

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*What’s a typical day like for you?

 

I’m a corrections researcher, so by day, I’m coding multi-level statistical models and shadowing deputies in the jails. By 6:00 AM I’m at my desk at the Sheriff’s Department. It’s culturally so different from academia, where I came from. After work, I lift weights with my personal trainer in the jail. I’ll go over to a weight machine and someone will have left their gun on the seat. Then I go home, take care of my teenagers,do an interview, arrange a reading in a bookstore, write a little, fall asleep on my laptop.

 

 

*Do you still struggle with Chronic fatigue?

I gave up sugar and that helped me a lot.

 

 

 

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*What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

Art inspires me. Music inspires me. When readers respond to my work in a positive way, it’s a huge jolt to my creative energies. I love readers.

 

 

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*On your website you state the following, So when I wasn’t writing or conducting research, I was reading every writing book I could get my hands on. I treated it like one more graduate degree. This took a couple of years.”  

 

  • During this time frame name some of the writing books that helped you the most.

I started writing screenplays before I wrote fiction. I sent my first screenplay off to my Oscar-nominated screenwriter x-boyfriend, David, who graciously read it and told me it stank. It did. He recommended three books to me: Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting, by Robert McKee; The Art Of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Motives by Lajos Egri; and The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. They changed my game. Screenwriting books are incredibly instructive for fiction writers because they teach you story structure. Now David is a big Anna Blanc fan (and I know he’d tell me if he wasn’t).

  • Any favorite quotes, tips, techniques?

Give into your voice. Don’t self censor. There’s a Neil Gaiman quote that is right on the money.

 

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”  

  • Were you ever overwhelmed by the amount of information?

I was famished for information. Writing was a fresh discovery for me. I hadn’t known that I could do it or love it so much. And once I made that discovery, it’s all I wanted to do or talk about. So, I was like, ‘bring it!’

 

 

Write Sign, Love for Writing, for writers and authors.

 

 

 

* “I treated it like one more graduate degree…” Tell us more about this and your approach to learning the craft.

 

When I first started writing fiction and screenplays almost ten years ago, I was surprised that I wasn’t good at it.  I thought it would be easier because I was a already a competent non-fiction writer. It wasn’t. Writing fiction or screenplays is a whole different beast and you have to learn the craft. You’ve got to put in your ten thousand hours. I read dozens of screenplays and dissected them. I diagrammed novels. I would read books I loved five times in a row. Each time I’d look for something new. What was the ratio of description to action? What rules did they break? How did the author make me feel so deeply? I would study first paragraphs of novels that were effective and mimic them. When I presented my writers’ group with my first sex scene, they laughed, because it was unintentionally hilarious. So I started reading romance novels–just the dirty parts–to try to figure out what made a good love scene.

And, I wrote. Some days, I wrote for fourteen hours. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and write. I wrote first thing in the morning. I wasn’t working much at the time, so I could do it.

 

 

 

University image with books

 

 

 

*With a MPH (I’m guessing it’s a Masters of Public Health–My wife has one of those), a Ph.D, a love of reading, and what you’ve accomplished so far in writing, I’ve assumed the following.

 

-You love to learn new things. Is this true?

Yes, which is why I love corrections research so much. I get to learn a whole new discipline that also ties into my fiction.

 

-You have great self discipline. How did you develop such great character?

Thank you. I don’t know. My mother worked us pretty hard when we were kids, be it doing chores or hiking up mountains, and I’m grateful. Then I traveled extensively in the developing world, so I know about cold showers and picking bugs out of your food. Working hard and pushing through when things are tough is key. But it’s crucial to know where to focus your energies. I let a lot of things slide because they would take me away from writing or time with my kids.

 

-I can also tell you have a sense of humor, which I love in Anna Blanc, The Woman in the Camphor Trunk. Where does your sense of humor come from?

 

Boredom. Childhood used to be filled with boredom. Wonder too, but in the 60s and 70s we had to make our own entertainment. I liked to amuse myself by finding the humor in things. Even now, I’m often giggling behind my hand.

 

 

 

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*How do you utilize research for your novels?

 

I love to use primary sources for my Anna Blanc research. The Los Angeles newspapers from the early 1900s enthrall me. Most of my story lines come straight out of the papers. I steal events from the newspapers, descriptions of technology, prices from advertisements, fashion, entertainment. I love eyewitness accounts. I harvest slang and social morays from novels written in that period — things that Anna Blanc would have read. Text books from the period. Magazines. Photography is my very favorite source I’ve collected thousands of pictures of the 1900s on my Pinterest page. Here’s the link. Prepare to be amazed https://www.pinterest.com/jrobin66/

 

 

 

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*I love Anna Blanc! She’s such a unique character. This sounds weird but, did it take a while to create her?

 

Thank you so much!. I was planning on writing someone else entirely and she forced her way onto the page. She’s maturing a bit, and that takes time. But her voice is in the very first paragraphs of the first draft I wrote. In some ways, Anna is like me at 19 only magnified. I was self-absorbed. She’s even more self-absorbed. I was naive and privileged. She’s sheltered and filthy rich. I was relatively smart and brave. She’s even braver and more brilliant. And, like most women of my generation, I was frequently dismissed. So Anna is dismissed.

 

 

*What’s next in the Anna Blanc series?

 

Book three will be out next Spring. It’s based on a true story and involves a white slavery ring, a murder in Griffith Park, and a mysterious man who comes into Anna’s life and drives Joe Singer crazy. There’s a trip in the Blanc’s luxurious private train car, a brutal trek in the desert, family drama, and lots of skeletons in closets.

 

 

 

Jennifer Kincheloe author image

 

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Historical Mystery Book Recommendations with Daniella Bernett & Benjamin Thomas

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Let’s go back in time and visit some historical mysteries…

 

 

 

Watch old school pocket watch

 

 

 

 Charles Lenox Mysteries #10 Takes place in Victorian England

 

The Inheritance Charles Lenox

 

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A mysterious bequest of money leads to a murder in this new novel in the critically acclaimed and bestselling series whose last installment The New York Times called “a sterling addition to this well-polished series.”

Charles Lenox has received a cryptic plea for help from an old Harrow schoolmate, Gerald Leigh, but when he looks into the matter he finds that his friend has suddenly disappeared. As boys they had shared a secret: a bequest from a mysterious benefactor had smoothed Leigh’s way into the world after the death of his father. Lenox, already with a passionate interest in detective work, made discovering the benefactor’s identity his first case – but was never able to solve it.

Now, years later, Leigh has been the recipient of a second, even more generous bequest. Is it from the same anonymous sponsor? Or is the money poisoned by ulterior motives? Leigh’s disappearance suggests the latter, and as Lenox tries, desperately, to save his friend’s life, he’s forced into confrontations with both the most dangerous of east end gangs and the far more genteel denizens of the illustrious Royal Society. When someone close to the bequest dies, Lenox must finally delve deep into the past to uncover at last the identity of the person who is either his friend’s savior – or his lethal enemy.

 

 

 

Sebastian St. Cyr #13 Takes place in Regency England

 

 

Why kill the innocent

 

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In the newest mystery from the national bestselling author of Where the Dead Lie, a brutal murder draws Sebastian St. Cyr into the web of the royal court, where intrigue abounds and betrayal awaits.

London, 1814. As a cruel winter holds the city in its icy grip, the bloody body of a beautiful young musician is found half-buried in a snowdrift. Jane Ambrose’s ties to Princess Charlotte, the only child of the Prince Regent and heir presumptive to the throne, panic the palace, which moves quickly to shut down any investigation into the death of the talented pianist. But Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, and his wife Hero refuse to allow Jane’s murderer to escape justice.

Untangling the secrets of Jane’s world leads Sebastian into a maze of dangerous treachery where each player has his or her own unsavory agenda and no one can be trusted. As the Thames freezes over and the people of London pour onto the ice for a Frost Fair, Sebastian and Hero find their investigation circling back to the palace and building to a chilling crescendo of deceit and death . . .

 

 

Susan Elia MacNeal’s Maggie Hope Mystery #8 Takes place during WWII

 

 

The Prisoners castle

 

Available August 7, 2018 Pre-order now

 

American-born spy and code-breaker extraordinaire Maggie Hope must solve a baffling series of murders among a group of captive agents on an isolated Scottish island as the acclaimed World War II mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Susan Elia MacNeal continues.

Maggie Hope is being held prisoner on a remote Scottish island with other SOE agents who know too much for the enemy’s comfort. All the spies on the island are trained to kill–and when they start dropping off one-by-one, Maggie needs to find the murderer… before she becomes the next victim.

 

 

Alyssa Maxwell’s A Lady & Lady’s Maid Mystery #3  Which takes place in the early 1920’s in England.

 

 

A Devious Death

 

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In the sobering yet hopeful years following the First World War, Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her lady’s maid, Eva Huntford, find their summer plans marred by an instance of murder . . .
 
Phoebe and her sister Julia are eager for a summer getaway at High Head Lodge, the newly purchased estate of their cousin Regina. But they are not the only houseguests. Regina’s odd friend, Olive, is far from friendly, and Regina’s mother and brother—bitter over the unequal distribution of her father’s inheritance—have descended on the house to confront Regina.

In addition to the family tension, Eva is increasingly suspicious of Lady Julia’s new maid. She questions Miss Stanley’s loyalty and integrity, wondering why she left her former employer so suddenly. And why does Regina seem ill at ease around the maid, as if they were previously acquainted? Everyone, it appears, is on edge.

But things go from tense to tragic when their hostess meets an untimely end—mysteriously murdered in her bed with no signs of struggle. Now, with suspects in every room, Lady Phoebe and Eva must uncover secrets hidden behind closed doors—before a killer ensures they never leave High Head Lodge . . . alive.

 

 

Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily #12  Takes place in Victorian England.

 

Death in St. Petersburg

 

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A dance with death…

After the final curtain of Swan Lake, an animated crowd exits the Mariinsky theatre brimming with excitement. But outside the scene is somber. A ballerina’s body lies face down in the snow, blood splattered like rose petals over the costume of the Swan Queen. The crowd is silenced by a single cry –Nemetseva is dead!

Among the theatergoers is Lady Emily, accompanying her dashing husband Colin in Russia on assignment from the Crown. But it soon becomes clear that Colin isn’t the only one with work to do. When the dead ballerina’s aristocratic lover comes begging for justice, Emily must apply her own set of skills to discover the rising star’s murderer. Her investigation takes her on a dance across the stage of Tsarist Russia, from the opulence of the Winter Palace, to the modest flats of ex-ballerinas and the locked attics of political radicals. A mysterious dancer in white follows closely behind, making waves through St. Petersburg with her surprise performances and trail of red scarves. Is it the sweet Katenka, Nemetseva’s childhood friend and favorite rival? The ghost of the murdered étoile herself? Or, something even more sinister?

 

 

 

Jennifer Kincheloe’s Anna Blanc Mysteries #2 Takes place in the early 1900’s in Los Angeles. 

 

The woman in the camphor trunk

 

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Los Angeles, 1908. In Chinatown, the most dangerous beat in Los Angeles, police matron Anna Blanc and her former sweetheart, Detective Joe Singer, discover the body of a white missionary woman, stuffed in a trunk in the apartment of her Chinese lover. Her lover has fled. If news gets out that a white woman was murdered in Chinatown, there will be a violent backlash against the Chinese. Joe and Anna plan to solve the crime quietly and keep the death a secret. So does good-looking Mr. Jones, a prominent Chinese leader who has mixed feelings about helping the LAPD and about Anna.

Meanwhile, the Hop Sing tong has kidnapped two slave girls from the Bing Kong tong, fuelling existing tensions. They are poised on the verge of a bloody tong war that would put all Chinatown residents in danger.

Joe orders Anna out of Chinatown to keep her safe, but to atone for her own family’s sins, Anna must stay to solve the crime before news of the murder is leaked and Chinatown explodes.

 

 

Karen Charlton’s Detective Lavender Mysteries #4 Take place in early 1800’s London. 

 

Plague Pits and river bones

 

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London 1812: Treacherous gangs roam the capital, and not even the Palace of Westminster is safe. When Detective Stephen Lavender is called in to investigate a highway robbery and a cold-blooded murder, both the cases take a dangerous and disturbing personal twist.

And when Lavender’s trusted deputy, Constable Ned Woods, finds a mysterious severed foot washed up on Greenwich Beach, they soon realise that these ancient bones are more sinister than they first appeared.

With Bow Street Police Office undermanned and in disarray, it will take all of Lavender and Woods’s wit and skill—and some help from Lavender’s spirited wife, Magdalena—to unmask the fiend behind the mayhem, restore peace and justice to the beleaguered city and solve the tragic mystery of the severed foot.

But will they do so in time to foil a plot that threatens to plunge the country into chaos?

 

 

 

Alan Bradley’s Flavia De Luce Mysteries #9 -Takes place in Buckshaw 1950’s England. 

 

 

The Grave's a fine and private place

 

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Flavia is enjoying the summer, spending her days punting along the river with her reluctant family. Languishing in boredom, she drags a slack hand in the water, and catches her fingers in the open mouth of a drowned corpse.

Brought to shore, the dead man is found to be dressed in blue silk with ribbons at the knee, and wearing a single red ballet slipper.

Flavia needs to put her super-sleuthing skills to the test to investigate the murder of three gossips in the local church, and to keep her sisters out of danger. But what could possibly connect the son of an executed killer, a far too canny police constable, a travelling circus, and the publican’s mysteriously talented wife?

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Division: Marie Silk on Historical Fiction Writing: Life in America 100 Years Ago

Someone recently asked me, “What is ‘historical fiction’?”  I never realized it was a confusing phrase until I really thought about it and concluded that it sounds like an oxymoron.  Here, I will do my best to explain historical fiction and the process that goes into writing it.

Continue reading “Historical Division: Marie Silk on Historical Fiction Writing: Life in America 100 Years Ago”