In preparation for the April 14 launch of The Masque of a Murderer (the third in my Lucy Campion historical mysteries) my blog tour has kicked off!
Hosted by the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, there will be a few giveaways, interviews and some guest posts about 17th century stuff.
And if you haven't read From the Charred Remains yet, the paperback edition has now been released (March 15)! This book was a finalist for the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award from Left Coast Crime.
(But don't worry...It is NOT necessary to read the books in order!)
My fourth book has had several different titles, but none that really resonated with me or with my editor.
I've talked before about the image that prompted this novel initially--although, alas, that too has changed somewhat--and about the difficulties I've had with titles generally. But naming a book is a difficult thing--it has to be right!
The new title--A DEATH ALONG THE RIVER FLEET--feels right. (I mean, I also liked Murder at Fleet Ditch, but it was deemed a bit too harsh for my Lucy books, which I can totally see now).
Here is the working premise:
Crossing Holborn Bridge, where it crosses the River Fleet, Lucy Campion—printer’s apprentice--encounters a distraught young woman, barely able to speak and clad only in a blood-spattered nightdress. To the local townspeople, the woman is mad, afflicted with the devil’s tongue, but Lucy, feeling concerned for the woman’s well-being, takes her to a physician. When the woman is shockingly identified as the daughter of a nobleman, Lucy is asked to temporarily give up her bookselling duties to discreetly serve as the woman’s companion while in the physician’s care. As the woman recovers over the month of April 1667, she begins—with Lucy’s help—to reconstruct the terrible event that occurred near the bridge, as well as the disturbing events that preceded it. When the woman is attacked while in her care, Lucy becomes unwillingly privy to a plot with far-reaching social implications.
But, given that I don't like to disclose too much about my work-in-progress, this is all I will say!
I'm delighted to say that recently a group of us--eight authors who write historical mysteries--joined together to form a new collective: Sleuths in Time, Tracking Crime.
We write historical mysteries set in England, Scotland and the United States, ranging in time from the 1660s to the 1930s. Connect with us on Facebook and Pinterest (Sleuths in Time Authors) or follow us on Twitter! (@sleuthsintime).
We've got some great things planned, including some giveaways and a scavenger hunt at Malice Domestic. Stay tuned for details!
Every morning, when I check my email, I'm reminded of a funny (funny-weird, not funny-humorous) thing about book titles. Because I have a daily Google alert on my titles, I get a little summary about how they have used been used on the internet. For my first novel A Murder at Rosamund's Gate and for my third novel, The Masque of a Murderer, I get alerts that actually pertain to my book.
But for my second book, From the Charred Remains, I am treated to all sorts of terrible and strange news stories--usually house fires--of things or people being found after a fire (this gem to the right is one of the better things that's come this way).
Literally, this illustrates the dark side of book titles. There are terrible things that happen in the world--beyond what happened on the mythical Tatooine--and every day those come to my inbox because of how I titled my book.
I shouldn't be surprised--after all, the premise of my book is that a body has been found in a barrel outside the Cheshire Cheese after the Great Fire has devastated much of London.
So as I sort though new titles for my fourth book--the soon to be renamed Stranger on the Bridge--I find myself avoiding titles that reporters might use to describe particularly grisly stuff.
It's ironic really. The title of my first book didn't make it through marketing, but it was originally called Monster at the Gate. I thought the concept of monster fit well with my time period, but that title was deemed too harsh and supernatural. I can only imagine the kinds of Google hits I would have gotten, had I kept that title.
The original title of my third book, Whispers of a Dying Man, didn't make it past my own internal scrutiny. Bleagh. Glad I changed that one. The Masque of a Murderer is a much better title.
But From the Charred Remains sailed through easily. I still like the title, but I'm still a bit wary when I see what Google has sent me.
Now, I'm still pondering the title of my fourth book. Stranger on the Bridge just isn't resonating for me. So at New Year's, after describing the premise, I asked a bunch of my friends to all put single words (nouns and adjectives) into a hat. Then we all picked three or four slips of paper and formed titles. The best of this admittedly drunken endeavor was Across the Misty Divide. Probably won't go over either (sorry Steve!). Maybe the parlor game method of naming books is not the best method.
So hopefully something connects soon!!! I'll keep you posted!
I've written a little bit about 17th century sleuths, and 18th century thief-takers, and the rise of the 19th century detective, but I really know very little about what modern private investigators actually do. So when Daniel Clark, a private investigator based in the UK contacted me about writing a post on this topic, I thought I would learn something interesting. And I have!
In life, one may come across certain situations where the services of private investigators are required. Such situations include: finding a missing person, solving child custody, investigation or surveillance, matrimonial & infidelity investigations and conducting background investigations. Private detectives usually have to undergo a great deal of training. A private detective also lends a helping hand in solving private matters and anything which can potentially unearth criminal activities existing in your business. Now, one can find a number of private investigation agencies which employ several trained and skilled investigators to solve different cases.
When you hire a private investigator (such as one at Daniel's firm, privatdetektive) they should carry out their work in line with the laws of the land. At the time of hiring, make sure that they are specialized in the area which best suits your needs. It is important, too, to check their skills, expertise and experience, before finalizing anything with them. This will ensure you of approaching the best private investigator.
How experience proves helpful in investigation
Every activity carried out in the investigation process is based upon the experience and knowledge of the investigator. For instance, the type of camera filter that should be used and the proper techniques to avail information from relevant sources. The training and experience of private investigator give them sufficient time required to figure out which tools and methods work best for different types of cases. There may arise certain circumstances that arise while the investigator is trying to gather information, that requires the investigator to react quickly.
Benefits you get from hiring professional private detectives:
1. Advanced techniques – These professionals make use of their specialist information and technological expertise to solve the case. For instance, they can look through financial transactions to expose a business partner who is involved in unethical activities in a business.
2. Focus on your work – A team of professional investigators work on a case, giving their full attention. Hiring a trained and expert private detective will save you time, energy and efforts. You can focus on your other important activities, leaving the investigative work to them.
3. Get answers quickly – When you choose to hire professional investigators, you don’t have to wait around for any sort of evidence to crop up. They know how to effectively examine claims and create a well-planned and expedited strategy to uncover the truth. With experience in dealing with the court system, investigators are well aware about the type of evidence required to win your case.
4. Less risk involved – If you are seeking information on individuals, then you need to consider and keep in mind about investigative actions that should be taken within the limits of the law. Private investigators are aware of what action can be taken from remaining within legal limits. They are trained in a better way in conducting an investigation to provide valuable information to the clients.
Thus, it can be said that hiring professional private investigators offers true value for invested money.
Daniel Clark owns a leading privatdetektiv agency which aims at providing personal, corporate or financial investigation services. He provides quality investigation services in the UK and makes use of advanced equipment to solve different cases of clients.
Just a quick note to say that I'm very honored that my second novel, From the Charred Remains, was recently nominated for the Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award. This is a fan award bestowed at the annual Left Coast Crime Convention.
The other finalists in this category are Rhys Bowen, Queen of Hearts (Berkley Prime Crime), Catriona McPherson, A Deadly Measure of Brimstone (Minotaur Books), Kelli Stanley, City of Ghosts (Minotaur Books) and Jeri Westerson, Cup of Blood (Old London Press).
Some other author friends who've stopped by my blog were nominated nominated for the Rosebud, the best first mystery novel set anywhere in the world: Lisa Alber, Kilmoon (Muskrat Press), Lori Rader-Day, The Black Hour, and Holly West, Mistress of Fortune (Carina Press e-book). (I'm really hoping I can vote Chicago-style on this one...early and often!)
We'll find out in March! Fingers crossed!
As I work on my fourth Lucy book, I knew I had to figure out a better way to keep in mind where all the events of the first three books occurred.
For real historical locations--London Bridge, the Cheshire Cheese, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the Fire Courts, Newgate--I have a few maps on hand.
These include the interactive map of early modern London ("The Agas Map") from 1633 and Walter George Bell's 1920 map of the Great Fire of 1666.
But of course it is Lucy's world that is harder to keep straight. Where does Master Hargrave live? Where is Aubrey's printing shop? Where was Mr. Whitby pushed in front of the horse? How long will it take Lucy to walk from Duncan's jail on Fleet Street to the nonconformist burial ground in Bunhill Fields? And when Lucy walks towards Smithfield, will she remember where a murder occurred in an earlier book?
This weekend it occurred to me to create my own master map--Lucy's London--for me to remember where every event occurred in Lucy's life. Using photocopies of the Agas Map (1633) and using Bell as a reference, I was able to develop my own map on which I could color in the area destroyed by the Great Fire and write in all my events for reference. The final result, shown here on my dining room table, is about 5' x 2.5'.
If I wanted I could even color in all the houses! Draw journey lines to illustrate the different treks the characters take throughout all four books, noting their points of intersection! Use a palate of colors to demarcate a range of events--murders, accidental deaths, accidents, important scenes!
I do, after all, have a book to write. But working on this map gave me an enormous appreciation for the intricate nature of the maps that Agas and Bell created, and deepened my understanding just that much more of the fascinating world of early modern London.
This never gets old...so exciting to get the copy edits for my third Lucy Campion mystery--The Masque of a Murderer!
I am hoping to reveal the cover soon. I've seen an early version and I love it! Can't wait!
(To be released on April 14, 2015, but available now for pre-order at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and a bookseller near you!)
I won't say HOW exactly, but a scold's bridle features prominently in my third novel, Masque of a Murderer. (Well, okay, maybe one is found on the corpse of a young woman. Or not.) But the bridle does play an important role, and I thought I would give a little more background.
Since at least the Middle Ages, women had been expected to heed Paul's admonition to be "chaste, silent and obedient," an expectation that became even more pronounced for women in early modern Europe. Women were branded "scolds" if they harangued their husbands or neighbors, or as we may say today, spoke their minds.
"The Scolding Wife," shown here, is one of many tales of a merry young man who made the mistake of marrying a rich widow who very quickly made his life miserable.
Indeed, the couple couldn't even sit down to eat without her scolding him:
"They was not all at supper set, or at the board sat down,
Such accounts explain how the men's good will and cheer are sapped by the woman's speech. It should be noted, however, that the tale is to be 'set to a pleasant tune.' The ballad is meant to be lighthearted--an everyday tale of a man who cannot control his wife. As such, it is as much a comment about his nature as it is about hers. Nevertheless, there is a gendered warning here about the respective roles that men and women should play in a marriage.
My favorite of these little discourses is one by Anonymous (1684): "The tongue combatants, or A sharp dispute between a comical courageous country grasier, and a London bull-feather'd butchers twitling, twatling, turbulent, thundering, tempestuous, terrifying, taunting, troublesome, talkative tongu'd wife."
Sometimes, however, the warning against women's scolding was more explicit--and more terrifying.
Devices known as scold's bridles, or scold's masks, first emerged in the Middle Ages, and continued to be used (in England at least) throughout the early modern era.
The scold's mask was a painful contraption of iron and leather that fit over a woman's face that effectively prohibited her from speaking. Sometimes, the woman might be paraded about, as a humiliating reminder to keep her opinions to herself, and as a lesson to other women who might be inclined to do the same.
So how does this play out in my novel? Find out in April 2015, when Masque of a Murderer is released!
Historian. Mystery writer. Researcher. Teacher. Occasional blogger.
Blogs I enjoy
Bloody Good Read (Where writers and readers of historical thrillers talk shop)
Cozy Mystery List Blog (great conversations about mysteries!)
Jungle Red Writers (Eight crime fiction writers)
Minotaur Art (Behind the scenes peek into covers!)
Nathan Bransford (agent-turned-writer)
Sleuths In Time (Eight writers of historical mysteries)