If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

April Interviews

4/1 Jennifer Chow, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue
4/8 John Gaspard
4/15 Art Taylor, The Boy Detective & The Summer of '74
4/22 Maggie Toussaint, Seas the Day
4/29 Grace Topping, Staging Wars

Saturday Guest Bloggers
4/4 Sasscer Hill
4/18 Jackie Green

WWK Bloggers:
4/11 Paula Gail Benson
4/25 Kait Carson


WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel (wish they weren't having to compete against each other), and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Kaye George's first novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Revenge is Sweet, will be released on March 10th. Look for the interview here on March 11.

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, will be released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here on April 29th.

Don't miss Shari Randall's "The Queen of Christmas" available on at Amazon. Shari's holiday story for WWK was too long so she published it for our enjoyment. It's available for 99 cents or on Kindle Unlimited for free!

KM Rockwood's "The Society" and "To Die A Free Man; the Story of Joseph Bowers" are included in the BOULD Awards Anthology, which was released on November 19. KM won second place with a cash prize for "The Society." Congratulations, KM! Kaye George's "Meeting on the Funicular" is also in this anthology, which can be bought for 99 cents on Kindle until November 30.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

An Interview with Dianne Freeman by E. B. Davis

In fact, Mary should be with us now. She’d simply been trying to earn a living.
What could she possibly have written that was so wrong she must pay for it with her life?
I felt such anger on behalf of the sisters, I didn’t just want to bring the killer
to justice, I wanted to hurt him just as he’d hurt these two women.
Dianne Freeman, A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder, Kindle Loc. 2453

Though American by birth, Frances Wynn, the now-widowed Countess of Harleigh, has adapted admirably to the quirks and traditions of the British aristocracy. On August twelfth each year, otherwise known as the Glorious Twelfth, most members of the upper class retire to their country estates for grouse-shooting season. Frances has little interest in hunting—for birds or a second husband—and is expecting to spend a quiet few months in London with her almost-engaged sister, Lily, until the throng returns.

Instead, she’s immersed in a shocking mystery when a friend, Mary Archer, is found murdered. Frances had hoped Mary might make a suitable bride for her cousin, Charles, but their courtship recently fizzled out. Unfortunately, this puts Charles in the spotlight—along with dozens of others. It seems Mary had countless notes hidden in her home, detailing the private indiscretions of society’s elite. Frances can hardly believe that the genteel and genial Mary was a blackmailer, yet why else would she horde such juicy tidbits?

Aided by her gallant friend and neighbor, George Hazelton, Frances begins assisting the police in this highly sensitive case, learning more about her peers than she ever wished to know. Too many suspects may be worse than none at all—but even more worrying is that the number of victims is increasing too. And unless Frances takes care, she’ll soon find herself among them.

If you missed Dianne Freeman’s first book in the Countess of Harleigh mystery series, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder, do yourself a favor and get a copy. The second in this series, A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder, is every bit as entertaining.

Although Frances’s little sister, Lily, is still living with her, Lily is sidelined in this adventure by her own engagement. Aunt Hetty has taken over Frances’s office, much to Frances’s dismay, while helping Graham, of all people, with his finances. But while Aunt Hetty is sidelined by that chore, she discovers invaluable financial information that assists Frances and George’s investigation. In this adventure, Lily’s friend Charlotte (Lottie) from NYC is visiting, she provides Frances with the help she needs as does Charles Evingdon, Frances’s cousin by marriage, who is under investigation.
I love the mix of old and new characters found in this series, which provides continuity while freshening each book. Set during the summer, it’s the perfect addition to your summer reading pile.

Please welcome Dianne Freeman back to WWK.                                                 E. B. Davis

What is the difference between full and half-mourning?

In the Victorian era, full or deep mourning meant total immersion in one’s grief. The door knocker would be draped in black crape so people would think twice about visiting. Clocks might be stopped and mirrors turned to the walls as if time and one’s appearance no longer mattered. Only black fabric with no sheen could be worn. Women would trade their hats for a bonnet with a veil of black crape and all jewelry would be made of jet. Men, who tended to wear dark clothing anyway, didn’t have to alter their wardrobes much.
Half-mourning usually evolved six months to a year after the death, depending on how close the relationship was. The house would return to normal, and color slowly crept into the wardrobe. Dull colors at first; gray, purples, and a bit of white trim. The bonnet and veil could be replaced with a hat as long as it had no flowers or plumes. Half-mourning could go on for another six months, but the general idea was to transition gradually from mourning to bright colors. By the late Victorian era, the rules had relaxed and left the form and period of mourning up to the bereaved.

What was “The Glorious Twelfth?” Was it celebrated in-town before most of the gentry retired for the summer to the country? Was this an upper-class only celebration or did everyone celebrate it? Is it celebrated today?

The Glorious Twelfth was a catch-phrase for the Twelfth of August—the first day of shooting season. For most of the land-owning gentry, it was a reason to get out of town, away from the summer heat and smoke of the city, and back to their estates. It used to be a sport reserved for the very wealthy, but by the mid-to late Victorian era, with improved train systems, and higher earnings among the upper and middle classes, anyone who could afford to rent a country house and pay for an arranged shoot, would make the pilgrimage.

Shooting tourism still generates a large income for the UK, and they still call the opening day the Glorious Twelfth.

Lily has found a young man, Leo Kendrick, she wants to marry. They seem perfectly matched, something Frances should appreciate. And yet, she isn’t enthusiastic about the engagement. Why?

Frances’s goal for her sister has always been to keep Lily from making the same mistakes she made. In this case, the mistake would be marrying in haste. That did not work out well for Frances, and Leo and Lily met barely four months earlier. Though she likes Leo, she just wants the couple to take some time to get to know one another before jumping into marriage.

Lily’s friend Charlotte (Lottie) Deaver is visiting London from NYC. Why is her quick and astute thinking a surprise to Frances?

Frances is guilty of a bit of pre-judging in the case of Lottie. In the few weeks she’s stayed with Frances, she’s managed to spill, break, tear, or trip over nearly everything she’s come into contact with. Frances attributes this to absence of mind and is surprised to find that while Lottie is indeed a bit of a klutz, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with her mind.

Although Frances wishes she could afford country trips in the summer, it hasn’t prevented her from matchmaking. Who does she pair together?

Frances would probably take exception to the term “matchmaking.” *wink wink* She’s sponsored her sister’s season and is attempting to do the same for Lottie. She ensured that the met worthy gentlemen as opposed to scoundrels, but the choice was always up to the young ladies themselves. She also introduced her cousin, Charles to Mary Archer, but she’d rather forget that introduction. 

Why does Frances (even if by “gift” only) and Mary have to hide their livelihoods?

Though times were changing, at this point in history, particularly among the upper crust, working for a living was a middle-class lifestyle, beneath the aristocracy. Men could get away with it to some extent. Men needed something to occupy their minds and challenge them, as long as it didn’t interfere with their social obligations. Women were still expected to be satisfied with domestic pursuits and allow their families; husbands, fathers, sons, to take care of them. If an aristocratic woman let it be known she worked for a living she was both accusing her family of neglect, and being “mannish,” a double whammy. Society wouldn’t put up with such eccentricity and the woman would likely be dropped from many invitation lists and lose her social standing. Having said that, women of the day headed many charitable and social organizations, but they didn’t earn an income from doing so.

How does Charles Evingdon become a murder suspect?
Charles was in the wrong place at the wrong time and it didn’t help that he’d just broken off a courtship with the deceased. It also didn’t help that Frances mentioned that detail to Inspector Delaney.

Why does Fiona, Frances’s good friend, think Evingdon is “dim-witted?”

Poor Charles. He’s not exactly dim-witted, but he tends to arrange his thoughts in such a way that when he opens his mouth, they all flow out at once, leaving the listener confused. Those who give him a chance learn he is a kind and caring man who simply doesn’t express himself very well.

Although Frances and her brother-in-law, Graham, seem to be getting along, I was surprised that Aunt Hetty, a financial expert, is helping Graham get his finances in order. Why would she help him after he tried to gain control of Frances’s finances?

Frances and Graham may not have buried the hatchet, but they’ve come to terms with it. Graham is still family. Helping to put him on a better financial path might keep him from asking for loans in the future.

Fiona’s brother, George Hazelton, who is also Frances’s next-door neighbor, has already proposed marriage. Why has she resisted and continues to do so?

Frances is sure George’s marriage proposal was just an offer to protect her. That’s not the kind of marriage she wants. She’s not entirely sure she’s ready for marriage again at all. Her first one was a disaster and her first taste of independence has been intoxicating—but then, so is George. If she doesn’t have to give up one for the other, she may stop resisting.

The sensitive nature of the notes and correspondence Mary had hidden in her house indicates she was either a gossip or a blackmailer. How did George get hired to attend to these malicious missives? Why wouldn’t the police take charge of them? Why does he delegate the chore of going through them and evaluating them for murder to Frances?

Many of the hundreds of notes Mary had hidden away contained very salacious information about nearly everyone in the upper class, including the Prince of Wales. Delaney would have taken the notes to his superior, who would have taken them to his superior, who was probably a member of the upper class and would have balked at the idea of handing this scandalous material over to a working-class policeman, who might be tempted to sell it to the press. Through his work at the Home Office, George had connections within the Metropolitan Police. Not only was he trustworthy, but his acquaintance with many of the people named in the notes gave him an advantage over the police in that he’d have a better knowledge of how far one of them might go to keep their secrets safe. When his friend, Charles, becomes the prime suspect, he needs to focus his time on investigating. Since Frances is already somewhat involved, and eager to help, he hands the notes off to her.

 When Frances discovers that Mary had information on Frances’s own finances, she concludes that servants must be involved. How does she prove that Mary gained much of her material from servants?

Frances learned early on that she was one of Mary’s victims herself. In her collection of gossip and scandal, Mary had some very personal information about Frances. With the help of her housemaid, Jenny, she traced it back to its source—her brother-in-law’s valet.

Lily uses the term “underworld of criminals,” which Frances seems unfamiliar with. When did this word/concept come into existence?

The term underworld was used to define a place for departed souls since the middle-ages. It was first used to define career criminals or organized crime in 1890 though the concept of organized crime has been around much longer.

I love Aunt Hetty. Will she ever make her own fortune or help Frances build her estate?

Henrietta Chesney, or Aunt Hetty has a tidy little fortune of her own. She can well afford to help Frances, and she offered when her niece ran into some financial problems, but Frances worries about becoming dependent on the generosity of others, even her beloved aunt.

Lily wants to do all the “right” social things for her marriage. Frances remembers, “I’d forgotten how important it was to do everything right at her age.” (Loc.2312) It must have been such a different time. Today, it seems it is only the old who abide by convention or rules. The young tend to do whatever they want. Have things changed?

Frances and Lily are Americans stepping into a society ruled by tradition. A young woman raised in this society would already know things like order of precedence—who should sit where at a dinner table, how to address a duke, or if you should speak at all, until he addresses you. Even things like who should pass through a doorway first can cause trouble. Lily would not want to embarrass her new family or show herself as ignorant of these rules.

Today, unless you’re attending a state dinner, or dealing with royalty, most of this protocol doesn’t apply. While it’s nice to have a knowledge of proper etiquette and good manners, I’m relieved I don’t have to deal with this level of correct behavior.

What’s next for Frances and her posse?

Next is the wedding for Frances’s sister, Lily and her fiancé Leo. They want to forgo the fanfare of a society wedding in favor of a quiet ceremony, and George Hazelton offers his family home in the countryside for the festivities. The groom’s family joins Frances and Lily at Risings where a shooting party is already in progress. While Frances and Lily plan for the wedding, the houseguests amuse themselves with the usual country pursuits—shooting, riding, and the random romantic dalliance. But this bucolic setting harbors a menace, and their pleasure is marred by injury, and even death, when mysterious accidents befall the household and guests. Before long, Frances suspects these “accidents” are deliberate, and fears the intended victim is Leo.
As Frances and George search for the killer among the groom’s family and friends, more victims fall prey to the mayhem. No one is safe. If they don’t flush out the culprit, this house party, the wedding, and the groom, could all meet with a deadly end.


Warren Bull said...

Thanks for sharing. There is so much about that period of history that I don't know.

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks for the interveiw, Dianne! I love this series and look forward to reading your next book!

Kait said...

This series is so much fun! It's a pleasure to reconnect with Frances and the clan.

Shari Randall said...

I love this series and find all the historical details fascinating. Can't wait for the next one!

Dianne Freeman said...

Hi Warren--me too, but I really enjoy discovering all those details!

E.B. Thank you! Your questions always make me learn something new about my own work.

Kait. Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoy it!

Thank you, Shari Randall!

KM Rockwood said...

I love historic mysteries! I "watch" in awe as the characters proceed to behave in ways that seem ridiculous to me, but which they "know" are the way things are.