Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Miranda Atchley’s new historical mystery, Murder at the Picture Show! Miranda has graciously answered my interview questions. Read on for more about the book and enter her blog tour giveaway at the end!
Lights. Camera. Murder.
On an autumn evening in New York City, amateur sleuth Fiona Clery and her partner Max Gillespie attend the picture house for the premiere of a silent film shot in their city. The night is filled with excitement and glamor…until the star of the film, Sylvie Boscombe, is murdered. Unable to sit back with a killer on the loose, Fiona pursues the case, leading her across the city, from opulent neighborhoods, to film sets, to the underground speakeasies Sylvie frequented. When a man she believes to be innocent is arrested for the murder, Fiona’s search becomes all the more urgent. Can she solve the case before it’s too late?
Meanwhile, Max gets a shocking surprise about his past that could offer answers to questions he has long held. And Fiona makes a discovery regarding her missing sister that could blow the case wide open.
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Miranda Atchley is a history enthusiast and complete bookworm whose passion for books and times gone by have compelled her to write several novels, one of which was a finalist for an indie writing award. When not writing at her home in Arkansas’s Ouachita Mountains, Miranda loves getting lost in a good book, spending time with her dogs, watching period dramas, and learning about her favorite period in time, the 1920s. Visit her blog at: mirandaatchley.blogspot.com
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Thank you, Miranda, for stopping by for an interview today! Let’s get started by talking about your current series. What inspired you to write the Fiona Clery Mystery series?
Fiona appeared in the fourth book in my previous series, The Abi Hensley Series. When Abi and her maid/friend Meg (Fiona’s sister) traveled to Europe, making a stop in Ireland to visit the Clery family, I thought Fiona was such an interesting character and knew she had to have her own series. As it was revealed that Fiona and her parents would be immigrating to the U.S., I found the idea of being a twenty-something coming to America in the 1920s, which seems like such a fun time to be a young person, the perfect idea for a new series. I was also reading the Sherlock Holmes mysteries at the time, and I really wanted to try my hand at writing my own mysteries.
What is the inspiration behind your Fiona’s personality?
Fiona has a layered personality. She’s incredibly smart and curious, but she’s also fun loving and has a dry sense of humor. And she’s very headstrong. Parts of her personality were inspired by Tuppence Cowley from one of my favorite books, Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary; a fearless “bright young thing” who charges head-on into the world of sleuthing. She also has a dash of Sherlock Holmes, with his keen observations, and a bit of Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice fame, particularly inspired by the line, “She had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous.”
What spiritual message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with this story?
When we think of the 1920s, we think of flappers dancing the Charleston and men driving pretty cars and people just generally having a good time. But underneath that, there was a lot of grief. The people of the 1920s had just lived through the First World War and the Spanish Flu pandemic, both of which claimed thousands of lives, and they both affected every person one way or another. It isn’t altogether different from things we are experiencing today. Seeing so much death leads people to wonder why? And it’s okay to wonder why these things happen. Yet there are some things in this life that we can’t understand until we get to heaven. Just because things like war and disease occur doesn’t mean that God has abandoned us; he hates these things as much as we do. Yet he is always there with us.
What was most challenging about writing a story set in the Jazz Age?
With each book I write, I want to be as historically accurate as possible. I’ve found that one of the biggest challenges in writing historical fiction is getting down everyday details. For example, I’ve found myself googling, “What was the price of a doughnut in 1922?” or “Did they serve popcorn in picture houses in the 1920s?” Sadly, they did not. 😦 Small parts of everyday life like that can be a bit challenging to research.
Did anything you learned surprise you while researching for this book?
There are many little things that have surprised me since I began researching this era (such as flappers hollowing out the heels of their shoes to discreetly transport alcohol during Prohibition), yet I think the most fascinating thing I learned while researching for Murder at the Picture Show is how involved women were in the film industry at the time. From writing, to producing, and even inventing some of the equipment that is still used today, they were the ones running the show in those days, and I think that is fantastic. Hollywood needs a little more of that these days!
I think that is fascinating!
Which character was your favorite to write?
Fiona and Max are a lot of fun to write about and I love them both dearly, but there’s something about Rose that is so relatable and makes her a delight to write about. She’s a romantic and a dreamer and I think a lot of us can relate to that. Things don’t always work out for her, but she keeps trying.
Just for fun:
Do you have any hobbies?
I love to spend time with my dogs, Gracie and Ginger. I also like to paint, even though I’m not that good at it.
If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?
Well, of course the 1920s would be my first choice, but if I were to choose another era, I would have to pick the late 1800s, specifically around the height of the industrial revolution. I love that era and I just think it would be so interesting to be there and see so much history taking place.
What are you currently reading?
A View Most Glorious by Regina Scott, a marvelous novel set in the 1890s about a suffragette scaling Mount Rainer to call attention to woman’s suffrage. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to read about suffragettes!
One winner will receive a Kindle edition of Murder at the Picture Show. Must be 18 or older to enter.