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

February Interviews

2/5 Heather Weidner, Glitter, Glam, and Contraband
2/12 Rhys Bowen, Above The Bay of Angels
2/19 Elizabeth Penney, Hems & Homicide
2/26 Annette Dashofy, Under The Radar

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
2/1 Valerie Burns
2/8 Jeannette de Beauvoir
2/15 Kathryn Lane

WWK Bloggers: 2/22 Kait Carson, 1/28 & 1/29 Special Interviews with Agatha Nominees by Paula Gail Benson


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.

Paula Gail Benson's story "Wisest, Swiftest, Kindest" appears in Love in the Lowcountry an anthology by the Lowcountry Romance Writers available 11/5 in e-book and print format on Amazon. The anthology includes fourteen stories all based in Charleston, South Carolina.

Kaye George's "Grist for the Mill" was published in A Murder of Crows anthology, edited by Sandra Murphy on October 9th.

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!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p


Saturday, February 8, 2020

Did She Fall or Was She Pushed? By Jeannette de Beauvior

I’ve always liked bleak stories, and the lyrics to Linda and Richard Thompson’s Did She Jump or Was She Pushed have been playing in the back of my mind lately. Provincetown—where I live, and where my current mystery series takes place—is gearing up for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower and the signing of the Compact in our harbor, and I’m contemplating a very real mystery that accompanies the story.

Of course, I’m always poking around history for stories. Nearly every mystery I write has some sort of historical component, because I’m fascinated with the idea of secrets. We all keep them: individuals, communities, groups, countries. And once in a while, the fear of having them revealed can lead to murder.

History and place are tightly connected. I suppose I could make up a place and make up a history to go with it, but why go to all that effort? The truth is, many if not most places have secrets, have something dark in their pasts, have events and situations that could very well make for a modern-day mystery. Once in a while I stop myself and acknowledge, You can’t make this stuff up. If I tried, it wouldn’t be nearly as good.

Take the first book in my series about Martine LeDuc, PR director for Montréal, in which four women have been murdered. Martine discovers they were all looking into the city’s past, when orphans were transferred to a psychiatric hospital and made the subjects of medical experimentation in collusion with the CIA’s MK-Ultra program. All the murdered women have a connection to these historic situations, and were killed to keep someone else’s role from becoming public. Martine finds herself standing between the killer and his getting away with it all, and—as any mystery reader knows—that’s not a good place to be.

You can’t make this stuff up. MK-Ultra even has a Wikipedia page, for heaven’s sake, but no-one seems to know about it.

And then there’s Sydney Riley, the protagonist in my current series. She’s the wedding planner for an inn here in Provincetown, but she has a nasty habit of finding whatever dead bodies happen to show up in this tourist destination. The most recent book in the series, A Fatal Folly, draws on the sinking of the very real pirate ship Whydah off Cape Cod—and who wouldn’t kill for pirate treasure?

Which brings us to 2020 and the question: did she fall or was she pushed? Most kids learn about the Mayflower in school, but what they don’t learn about is the absolute danger and misery of the crossing. It took 66 days from September to November—the worst weather imaginable, with storms and high seas; everyone was seasick; going up on deck was a dangerous respite from the crowded conditions below (the Mayflower had taken on the passengers from the leaking Speedwell and so was significantly overcrowded). All in all, a beastly time was had by all.

We know about the Mayflower voyage and the first few weeks in the New World from the diary of one William Bradford, who later became the first governor of Massachusetts and who came across with his wife, Dorothy May, who apparently was able to survive the wintry Atlantic crossing perfectly well. The ship anchored in Provincetown Harbor, the men went off to explore the area, and Dorothy slipped off the deck and drowned.

Really? She survived the storms, the sleet, the waves, and once the ship was at anchor in one of the world’s most protected harbors, she slipped and drowned? Is anyone here thinking? And then sometime in the 1800s a novelist got hold of the story and posited suicide as the real cause of her death. Again, really?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to know what actually happened. I’ve tried, and primary-source documents are few—and mostly biased. I probably won’t write about it, because when I incorporate history into my novels I want it to be as accurate as possible, but honestly… did she fall or was she pushed?

And to me, this is the place where being a mystery novelist and being a human being come together. Not many people outside of Montréal knew of the Duplessis Orphans, or of WW2’s Operation Fish; I told their story. Not many people outside of Provincetown knew of the Whydah, or the Portuguese fishermen and their losses, or of the AIDS deaths here; I tell their stories. History is as alive as we keep it, and there are so many voices that deserve to be heard. And if we can weave it all into a captivating mystery… so much the better!

Award-winning author Jeannette de Beauvoir writes mystery and historical fiction (or a combination thereof!) that’s been translated into 12 languages. A Booksense Book-of-the-Year finalist, she’s a member of the Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the National Writers Union.

All her novels are firmly rooted in a sense of place, and her delight is to find characters true to the spaces in which they live. She herself lives and writes in a cottage in Provincetown, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and loves the collection of people who assemble at a place like land’s end.

The Sydney Riley Provincetown mystery series is in its fifth installment on with the release of A Fatal Folly in November. The next book in the series, The Matinée Murders, will be coming out in June 2020.

She also teaches writing courses both online and onsite.

Find out more—and read her blog—at her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram, Patreon, Amazon, and Goodreads.


Kait said...

Fascinating.Given the heavy garments of the era, a drowning accident is a possibility, but now I want to know more. The Sydney Riley series is one of my favorite. Looking forward to The Matinee Murders.

Jeannette de Beauvoir said...

Thanks so much, Kait! Yeah, it *is* a possibility, but she wore those same heavy garments throughout the crossing itself, and passengers were often on deck, even in bad weather, due to the crowding and smells below. I'm doing a 1620-2020 book reading group this summer and our first book is Nathanial Philbrick's MAYFLOWER, which truly brings home the danger and squalor of the crossing. If I wrote that into a novel, readers would be up in arms if I suggested she slipped on a fine day at anchor...!

Glad you're enjoying Sydney! Thanks for reading!

Rik said...

I've been wondering the same and the question about her death is a great conversation starter on the tours I do in town. It's a good segue into talking about the lack of primary source material from the era and the limited perspective that we have on what actually happened in 1620. I need to reread Philbrick's book before the season starts!

Jeannette de Beauvoir said...

(You should come to the book group at the library when we discuss the Philbrick book, Rik! May 14th, 6pm.) It *is* frustrating to have so few materials to work with, and I can just imagine what people must ask you!

It's definitely one of Ptown's many mysteries....

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Congratulations on your upcoming release! I have a multiple-generation connection to South Chatham and look forward to reading your books.

Jeannette de Beauvoir said...

Oh, super, Margaret! I'm negotiating doing some onsite writing workshops in Chatham as we speak. The Cape is a great place for any kind of fiction, I think. Have you lived in/visited Chatham? It's so lovely, and so quintessentially Cape Cod!

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Oh yes, I grew up on the same beach my father did, and my children as well. During college summers, I worked in a restaurant kitchen in Chatham. I was married on the Cape, and last summer, my daughter was, too.

Jeannette de Beauvoir said...

Oh, my! Then you know the place well. Come visit Provincetown next time you're here!

KM Rockwood said...

Cape Cod is seeped in history (and mystery) What a great place to set mystery novels with a historic twist.

Jeannette de Beauvoir said...

Thanks! I love that I'm always learning more about it, stumbling over new (to me, anyway) information.

One day the then-curator at the Provincetown Museum took me down into the storage area to show me a new acquisition—some children's Civil-War era shoes, discovered in the walls of a house on Pleasant Street during renovations. I'd never heard of the practice, and it formed the background to The Deadliest Blessing (which takes place during the Portuguese Festival). You never know where this stuff might come from!

Anonymous said...

I think it was suicide. She came to the new world expecting something different, and it was different, but not in the way she'd hoped. And maybe Bradford had bad breath.

Jeannette de Beauvoir said...

I think a lot of people believe in the suicide hypothesis. Some think she was missing her son who had remained behind in the Netherlands.

Or the bad breath thing.