EDITED TO ANNOUNCE THAT TEMPEWYTCH IS MY WINNER! Please contact me at email@example.com and tell me which Lady Adelaide Mystery you’d like me to send you.
Thanks to Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett and Kate Flora for inviting me to join and blog with Maine Crime Writers! I’m thrilled and honored to be in such exalted company. As a recovering romance writer, I have discovered it’s so much more fun to have people kill each other than kiss, and at only three cozy mysteries in, I’ve lost count of the bodies I’ve strewn about.
I think anyone who ever knew me would be startled at my recent foray into crime—I was an earnest rule follower from my fist tentative baby steps, ever the good girl. An only child. A teacher’s pet. I skipped two grades and consequently missed the year they studied my home state’s history. I know nothing, and would have forgotten it by now anyway. And since you don’t know MY history, I thought I’d share a personal fact I’m not sure I’ve even told my kids.
In the fourth grade, my whole class collaborated on writing a play based on popular children’s books and fairy tales. (Probably a violation of copyright, but it’s a little late to prosecute; fourth grade was many, many decades ago.) I was cast as Alice in Wonderland. My mother made me a ruffled pinafore to wear, and my long blonde hair was held back in an Alice band. Someone got dressed up in a rabbit suit, and at my cue I obediently followed him off stage.
Foreshadowing! Who knew I was to obediently follow all the rabbits and be forever lost down the rabbit hole of research? Some years ago, I wrote an Edwardian-era romance. (It got a starred review in Library Journal, upon whose laurels I still rest.) My characters get on a train and go to Kent, a county in England. The year was 1903, and it really would have been perfectly fine for me to have them meet at the unnamed station and get on the unnamed train, right?
Oh, no, the rabbits whispered. Which railway station in London would have been used to travel to Kent back then? What was the name of the company that serviced that area? How long would the trip take? When did the train leave? Do you see where I’m going here? (Not to Kent.) I probably spent at least an hour Googling train schedules and rail lines.
And what did I find out? The Chatham Line, which was in perpetual economic difficulty, left from Victoria Station to go to Kent. And what lyrical, sparkly gems resulted from that lost hour in the actual text of the book?
“…he was grateful to sink into a somewhat tattered first-class compartment of the Chatham Line. The railroad company had the reputation of being a somewhat shaky enterprise, but at least its trains always arrived on time.”
Anyone who traveled on the defunct Chatham Line to Kent in 1903 is undoubtedly dead. My readers most likely wouldn’t know or care if I had my characters meet at Paddington instead of Victoria. But you’ll remember this Alice was a goody-goody, so here we are.
I’m beginning a new mystery set in the 1920s to follow the Lady Adelaide series (the fourth and final book is out next fall), and already I’ve got myself in trouble. I was looking for a historical event that might provide a reason for someone to be murdered many years afterward. I hit upon a battle in the Zulu Wars, where a company of about 150 British soldiers held off between 3,000-4,000 Zulu warriors. I’ve read numerous articles, but don’t quite feel I have a handle on it. Am I going to have to watch the 1964 movie Zulu? I think you know the answer.
Are you a stickler for historical accuracy in books and movies, or are you willing to let things slide for entertainment’s sake? What’s a weird historical fact you’ve picked up? I learned mouse skin was once cut and glued onto foreheads to provide lush eyebrows. Alice’s dormouse had better watch out.
By way of introducing myself, I’ll give away the Lady Adelaide Mystery of choice (Nobody’s Sweetheart Now, Who’s Sorry Now?, or Just Make Believe) to one random commenter!