News for the History Books

Edith here, soaring with delight despite snow piles higher than my head, which are still rising as you read this.

First: Congratulations to Patricia Stoltey for winning a book from Catriona McPherson!

I have casually, some might say coyly, here and there mentioned my historical mystery series, the Carriagetown Mysteries. Well, today I am really exceedingly pleased to announce that I have signed a three-book contract with Terri Bischoff, Aquisitions Editor at Midnight Ink! (And yes, this does make three multi-book contracts. Gulp.)

I’m so pleased that my book-length stories of 1888 Amesbury, my fair city, are going to hit the hands of readers beginning a little over a year from now. To celebrate (besides the bubbly), I’ll give away an ARC of a totally unrelated mystery to one commenter today.

In the first Carriagetown mystery, Breaking the Silence, Quaker midwife Rose Carroll hears secrets and Buggykeeps con­fi­dences as she attends births of the rich and poor alike. When the town’s world-famed car­riage indus­try goes up in flames (a true event in April, 1888), and a fac­tory owner’s adult son is stabbed to death with Rose’s own knitting needle, she is drawn into solv­ing the mys­tery of who set the fire and who killed the son. Things get dicey after the same owner’s mis­tress is also mur­dered, leav­ing her newborn infant with­out a mother. While strug­gling with being less than the per­fect Friend, Rose draws on her strengths as a counselor and prob­lem solver to bring two mur­der­ers to justice.

MorningMeetinghouse

That little brass plaque reads, “Whittier’s Seat.” Picture by Kathleen Wooten.

Rose’s elder and mentor is the actual Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier, who lived in Amesbury and attended Amesbury Friends Meeting (the same Meetinghouse where I walk to and sit in expectant waiting on Sunday mornings). It’s been wonderful to research Whittier and bring him back to life, right down to the twinkle in his eye, his love for children, and his cane that was made from the Philadelphia building burned down by anti-abolitionists while he was in there working on his pro-abolition newspaper. His home, two blocks away from my own home, is now a living museum of which I am a member.

Rose lives with her dead sister’s brother and his five children in the very house I live in, DSC_8500which was built in 1880 for the mill workers, so some of my research for the book is very easy and personal. I walk around town and visualize how it was without electric wires overhead or electric lights within. I imagine the many still-standing buildings housing the businesses of that era, and visualize structures no longer standing, like the Opera House.

The late 1800s were a time of great change. Some towns and businesses might have had electricity and indoor plumbing, but not families of modest means like Rose’s. Germ theory was just being widely practiced. Midwives were beginning to be supplanted by doctors. The hospital across the river, where Rose’s romantic interest is a doctor, was only eight years old. You could buy ready-made shoes and clothes, and even a version of infant formula. At the same time, only twenty-two years had passed since the Civil War. Black people struggled. Women couldn’t vote or even run for office higher than the school committee. Police refused to get involved in domestic violence situations. It’s an exciting time in which to place a series.

Rose is an independent businesswomanTwo-women-on-safety-bicycles-2-ha-pennies who buys one of the new “safety” bicycles with wheels of equal sizes, and her good friend is postmistress Bertie Winslow, who rides a horse named Grover, after the President, and lives in a Boston marriage. But Rose is also a member of the Society of Friends, wearing plain dress and addressing people with thee and thy. She sometimes butts head with Irish police detective Kevin Donovan, and at other times is able to work with him to ferret out crime in the town.

I have two short stories out that pilot the setting and characters of the series: “A Fire in CarriaFireinCarriagetownCovergetown” (originally published as “Breaking the Silence” in Stone Cold: Best New England Crime Stories 2014 from Level Best Books), and “A Questionable Death” in the History and Mystery, Oh My! anthology from Mystery and Horror, LLC. But you’ll have to wait until March 2016 for the first book.

I’m so grateful to Terri and the Midnight Ink crew for taking me on. I’m grateful for readers who like historical mysteries. I’m hugely grateful to my local community, including the Amesbury Carriage Museum, the Whittier Home Association, and Amesbury Friends Meeting, who are all, as you can imagine, eagerly awaiting the first book. I’m terribly grateful to Ramona DeFelice Long, who greatly improved the manuscript for me with her editorial comments, and to Kathy Lynn Emerson, a successful historical mystery author, who shared her own historical research bibiolography and then offered a very positive pre-contracted endorsement of Breaking the Silence. Historical mystery author KB Inglee gave me some great tips on how life sounded and what things were called. And I’m always grateful for the Wickeds, and for all our wonderful blog followers. Thank you! Stay tuned for more about this series.

Now: Questions? I’m happy to talk about research, ideas, problems. Any of it! Ask away. I’ll give an ARC of Farmed and Dangerous to one commenter. And please raise a glass of the celebratory beverage of your choice with me sometime today.

54 thoughts on “News for the History Books

  1. Cup of coffee raised – too early for anything else, and Stone Cold ordered from the library. Do you know how many books there are with that title?

  2. Fellow Guppy cj Sez: Edith, a flurry of congratulations coming your way. Sooo much validation for a wonderful writer. I’m amazed at the way you’ve immersed yourself in the time period. I love history, so I find historical fiction fascinating. Again, many congratulations on your multiple successes. Prayers going up for many more. By the by, where/how did you do all that research?

    • Thanks, Marilyn/CJ. I use a variety of resources. The Whittier home, the Amesbury Carriage Museum, our local library’s resources, books galore including a Sears catalog from 1890 and a couple of cookbooks, newspapers from that period, and of course, our friend Mr. Google! Pinterest is fun for pictures of period clothing, too. I taught prepared childbirth classes years ago, so I kind of know that area, but I had a midwife check out all the birth scenes for accuracy.

  3. Hey, with no kindle in store for me (it’s that lovely feel of paper, turning down the corner, marking the place and going back to it in physical reality that keeps me reading) I can’t read much of A Fire in Carriagetown, but I commend you on your very quick and well earned success Edith.

  4. I wish I could read more of A Fire in Carriagetown, but kindle will never be my device for reading books. Old fashioned, I love the smell and feel of paper, the portability and lack of electricity needed, and the very printed word. You have my utmost respect for your skill and talent and fortitude which have taken you so far so fast.

  5. Huge congrats! You’ve mentioned these books so often, it was a real mystery to me when they’d actually see the light of day. And it’s got to be fun setting a historical series in a location you know so well.

    But the biggest question – which of your names will this series be published under? Or are you taking on a fourth identity?

  6. And I finally logged into my Word Press account on this site. (Slow, aren’t I?) I think I’ve changed my name now, but that above comment was from me.

  7. Congratulations! It sounds wonderful, and definitely interesting. Isn’t it great living in the midst of history? Stories just fall into your lap. How handy that you can use your own house. That way no one can tell you that you got the details wrong.

    And I’m sure you can handle three series at once (just try to stagger the deadlines!).

  8. I enjoyed reading this. How incredible to actually live in the setting for your story. I’m a big fan of history, and a big fan of breathing in and breathing life into a place. Thank you for sharing, and congratulations!

  9. I have been to Amesbury and stayed a couple nights. It was snowing, so I got use out of my snowshoes. I left them behind in case I ever get back. I have had no need of them here in So.Cal where it is back in the 80s this week.
    I so enjoyed walking about the town and often flashback on little memories.
    Your book would bring me back vicariously.

  10. Congratulations and I raise a glass of tea to you. How do you work the Historical research in around the mystery so that it doesn’t end up being too much historical?

    • Thanks, Marilyn! I guess you’ll have to read the book to find out. ;^) Seriously, I write the story and just tuck the details in around it. If it doesn’t serve the story, it doesn’t go in.

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