I went on to write two other mysteries, Murder Knocks Twice and The Fate of a Flapper set in 1929 Chicago, featuring Gina Ricci, a cocktail waitress in a Chicago speakeasy. (And some readers have asked me if Gina is Lucy's great-great-great-great-great granddaughter, and I always say, 'sure why not?' When the series is complete maybe I'll work out Gina's genealogy).
I honestly thought that my time with Lucy and 17th century London would be over after DARF was published. But then Severn House approached me about writing another Lucy, and continuing the series, and I jumped at this amazing opportunity.
Getting back into Lucy's world was not nearly as difficult as I imagined. Essentially I just had to push my cocktail glasses off the table, stack my Prohibition books back on the shelf, and change my music from flappers fun to classical (I can't quite bring myself to listen to madrigals and baroque music, or drink mead for that matter, to get myself in the right mood).
Each of my first four Lucy books all came to me in the form of an image, and The Sign of the Gallows was no exception. I immediately had the image of Lucy standing at a crossroads, because that's where I mentally pictured her (and me) to be. It can't get more "on the head" than that.
This image was particularly appealing location for a mystery because in the 17th century a crossroads was still very much viewed as a dangerous and frightening place. Murderers and suicides were often buried at crossroads since they could not be buried in sacred grounds. The idea was that their tortured spirits would not be able to find their way back home and they'd get confused at a crossroads. That also meant, of course, that travelers needed to be wary, when passing through a crossroads, lest they attract one of these unfortunate souls and carry them back home with them....
That image gave way to a plot...Lucy discovers a dead man hanging from a gallows at the crossroads, drawing her into a puzzling mystery.
The image of Lucy at the crossroads also informed Lucy's lot in life, and I wrote much of the novel with the idea that Lucy would be on a definite path by the story's close. However, ironically, just as I was writing the last chapter, I was asked by Severn House to write a sixth Lucy Campion mystery-- which meant I had to rethink Lucy's crossroads conundrum. A fun challenge to have!
It's been so fun to jump back into Lucy's world. As I was writing, I did have this weird sense my characters had been waiting for me. A little like Pirandello's "Six Characters in Search of an Author," only the 17th century version. (Although that's a little disturbing, if you think about it too much).
It's been really gratifying to be able to move Lucy's story forward, and to tell a story I never thought would be told.
Historian. Mystery writer. Researcher. Teacher. Occasional blogger.