If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contactE. B. Davisat firstname.lastname@example.org
Our September Author Interviews--9/6 Kathleen Valenti, 9/13 David Burnsworth, 9/20 Jeri Westerson, 9/27 Frances Brody. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.
September Saturday Guest Bloggers: 9/2--Anne Bannon, 9/9 WWK Bloggers, 9/16 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/23 Kait Carson, and on 9/30 Trixie Stiletto.
“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction.Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut.The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.” In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!
Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:
Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court &Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.
Shari Randall's"Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also bepublished. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.
In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.
Margaret S. Hamilton'sshort story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.
James M. Jackson's4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
Place a book during the time of King Henry VIII, add a few
murders, stir in a bit of alchemy, and you have pure magic. Don’t believe me? Suspense Magazine selected The Alchemist’s Daughter, the first book
in Mary Lawrence’s Bianca Goddard Mystery series, one of the “Best Books of
2015” in the historical mystery category. High praise for Mary’s first
published book. Mary followed with Death
of An Alchemist, and just days ago, Kensington released the third book in
this excellent series, Death at St. Vedast.
Death at St. Vedast
During the tempestuous
reign of Henry VIII, London alchemist Bianca Goddard has seen up close what
keeps a man alive—and what can kill him. A good thing, for she will need all
her knowledge to keep a friend away from the gallows . . .
Bianca and her husband John are delighted to
share in the glad fortune of their friend, Boisvert, the silversmith, who is to
wed Odile, the wealthy widow of a goldsmith. But a pall is cast over the
upcoming nuptials when the body of a pregnant woman is found beneath the bell
tower of St. Vedast, the very church where the betrothed are to be married.
Tragedy strikes again at the couple’s
reception, when Odile suddenly drops dead in the middle of the wedding feast.
The constable suspects Boisvert poisoned his new bride for her money, but
there’s not a trace of poison in her food or wine. Could the two deaths be
connected? To prove their friend’s innocence, Bianca will need to employ her knowledge
of alchemy—for if she can determine how
the bride was killed, she may find the person responsible for her murder—before
another victim is added to the death toll . . .
To celebrate the
release of her latest book, Mary is giving away a copy of Death at St.
Vedast. Leave a comment below for a chance to win.
Welcome, Mary, to Writers Who Kill.
In your Bianca Goddard series, you’ve painted a realistic
picture of life in 16th century England—definitely not glamorizing
it. What inspired you to write about the grittier side of life in Tudor
I’ve had an interest in Tudor and Elizabethan
history for nearly thirty years. A lot of historical fiction for this period
centers on noblemen and court politics. I began to wonder what it was like
being a commoner—it couldn’t have been easy to survive back then. The more I
looked into it, the more fascinated I became. There was room here to use my
imagination and to present a side of Tudor England not usually focused on.
Your main character, Bianca Goddard, rejects her father’s
work as an alchemist and becomes a practicing chemiste. What is the difference?
What are they each pursuing?
Generally, an alchemist is interested in creating
the philosopher’s stone—the agent for transmuting an imperfect substance into
perfection.Alchemists often pursued their
goal at the expense of their family’s wellbeing. Every available coin was spent
buying whatever they believed they needed to create the philosopher’s stone.
Because alchemists were never successful, they were often poor, desperate men
looking for patrons or resorting to trickery to earn money. Bianca sees the
folly of their pursuit, but she has learned that some of her father’s methods
are useful in creating medicines to help people. As a chemiste, Bianca takes a more measured and practical approach. She
also, would never call herself an alchemist. Henry VIII and Parliament passed a
law forbidding sorcery and witchcraft in 1542. She needs to keep a low profile.
Bianca is a courageous and hardworking woman dedicated to
her work. What drives her?
Bianca is a curious person. She is fascinated by
disease and seeks to understand it. In sixteenth century England, mortality was
ever present. Bianca has the mind of a scientist; she sees the suffering caused
by disease and wants to help. She is an observer and a thinker.
Bianca resists moving away from a low-lying area of London.
What keeps her in this community, even though it’s an unhealthy place to live?
She stays because the smell from her chemistries
isn’t noticeable in Gull Hole. That’s important because she needs to be careful
that her work isn’t misconstrued to look like sorcery or witchcraft. She has a
neighbor who keeps smelly chickens so not many folks wander down her alley. It
is also a matter of economics—it is cheap to live there.
Living during the reign of King Henry VIII, Bianca is
frequently a victim of the corrupt political system of the time, even being
accused of murder and thrown in the Clink. How does she deal with the unsavory
forces that surround her?
Her parents weren’t the most loving people, so
she learned early on to depend on herself and survive by her wits. Often there
was no money for food, so she became a cutpurse (pickpocket). She needed to be
observant and wily to avoid (and get out of) trouble. Growing up disadvantaged
she learns to navigate the system. She doesn’t consider how she might change
that system—to even think of that was treasonous. Her first thought is to
Bianca joins forces with some dubious characters to solve
crimes. How is she able to work with the various elements of society that
Bianca grew up streetwise. Because she does not
come from privilege she is familiar with the seedier elements in society. When
she meets conniving sorts in the merchant class, she transfers her learned
observations of human behavior, assuming that people, no matter their walk in
life, are similar in their wants and desires.
Did your degree with a specialty in cytotechnology
contribute to your interest in alchemy?
Definitely. I like history, and alchemy is the
rudiments of modern-day science. Cytotechnology is the study of cell morphology
as it changes into cancer.It was
natural for me to create a character who could explore the history of medical
You’ve written that environmental and political issues
matter a great deal to you. Do you find this interest influencing your books?
Unfortunately, environmental issues were not a
consideration in Tudor London. I can look back at their sanitation or approach
to disease from a modern day perspective, but when I write these stories, I
can’t comment on or judge what was their reality. I can only act like a
reporter and show their world. Likewise with political matters—though that is a
bit more difficult for me to stay out of. I’ll often have characters voice
political opinions in a snide off-handed way. I see evidence all over that they
were not without opinion. I’ve always rooted for the lower class to rail
against the powers that be.
Writing is an isolated activity. Living in Maine, are you
able to be a part of a writing community?
I’m fortunate to have a few writer friends with
whom I can commiserate. I also check in with a couple of online groups, but I’m
doing less of that now. Because I live in the country and run a farm, there are
more opportunities for me to socialize with neighbors and other farmers.
Authors are self-centered and competitive by
nature and that includes me. It’s a constant battle to stay relevant, and being
an author breeds insecurity.Almost
everyday I think what a conceited thing to do, write a book. Then I talk myself
back from the ledge. Writing is a creative art and it does have value. I can’t
change the world, but if I can help people escape, if I can help stretch their
imagination—because it is a mind exercise when one reads—and if I can
offer a different perspective, or give a reader joy, then that is worthwhile.
What writers have influenced your writing the most?
Jeanette Winterson’s work inspired me to try my
hand at writing.I love writers who use humor and
who have the ability to tell a story from a different perspective. Patricia
Finney, David Liss, Wesley Stace, and Hilary Mantel top my list of influencers.
Tell us about your road to publication. Was it a smooth or
bumpy ride? What do you know now that you wish you had learned earlier in your
It was a war of attrition. I started writing in
my early thirties. Mostly it was a way to escape what I felt was a dead-end
life. After five years I submitted a coming of age version of The
Alchemist’s Daughter, and it was good enough to land me an
agent. But years went by and it never sold. I rewrote it more times than I ever
kept track of. I also worked on other manuscripts and improved my writing
skills. I stayed with my agent for 15 years, too terrified to change for fear
I’d never find another.
In 2010 a different manuscript made the finals of
the Romance Writers’ Golden Heart contest. It felt like a book contract was
within my grasp. But life has never been easy for me. Two of my best
manuscripts came very close to selling, but ultimately were rejected. I was
devastated. The time had come to either give up writing or keep going. But the
struggle had become who I was. The bottom line was that I loved crafting a good
story. Whether my work would ever find an audience was out of my hands. I
wanted the affirmation of a traditional book contract. Coming close and hitting
a wall, I reevaluated my approach and decided to try to write a mystery since
I’d never written one before. It would give me a new challenge.
Two years later I had a manuscript ready to send
out. I was rejected by eighty-six literary agents before Fred Tribuzzo offered
me representation. A month later I was offered a contract with Kensington.
Looking back, I wish I had attended writing
conferences earlier on. Sending cold queries is not the way to go. You need to
meet an agent in person, pitch them your story, and be a human with a face, not
a name at the bottom of an electronic query.
I particularly like the covers of your books. They
definitely illustrate the essence of your stories. Who designed them?
I’m really happy with the covers, too.
Kensington’s art department gets credit for their designs and, in particular,
Wendy Mount. I might be asked for ideas, but usually they go a different
direction. I have no say once the process starts.I was nervous about what they would come up
with for the first book. It needed to set the right tone for the series. So
far, the covers have come as a pleasant surprise, and when I study them, I see
all kinds of little details that make them interesting.
What’s next for Bianca Goddard?
I’m working on book four and there will be a book
five. In book four, Bianca’s husband is conscripted into the army, and I will
resolve a character arc for a certain creepy character. By the time book five
comes out, I will be able to see whether the series has legs.
Standing in a bookstore, what book couldn’t you resist
recommending to a nearby stranger?
Without hesitation,The Remains of the
Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I think it is one of
the most perfect books ever written.