169 episodes

Interview with Writers of Historical Fiction about their New Books
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New Books in Historical Fiction Marshall Poe

    • Arts
    • 3.1 • 10 Ratings

Interview with Writers of Historical Fiction about their New Books
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    Dina Greenberg, "Nermina's Chance" (Atmosphere Press, 2021)

    Dina Greenberg, "Nermina's Chance" (Atmosphere Press, 2021)

    Today I talked to Dina Greenberg about her new novel Nermina's Chance (Atmosphere Press, 2021).
    Nermina is a medical student in Sarajevo. She’s been raised in an educated family of Westernized, secular Muslims, but it’s 1992 and the Serbian Chetniks have started to destroy the city. Her mother and brother are murdered and Nermina is brutally raped. She manages to bribe her way out of Bosnia, flees with an orphaned five-year-old whom she leaves with relatives, and ultimately ends up in Portland, Oregon. She starts to rebuild her life and resolves to bring her own child into the world, but she’s twenty-four and can’t afford a medically induced pregnancy. So, she entices a ‘sperm donor’ who has no idea of her intentions. Through pregnancy and the first sixteen years of her daughter’s life, Nermina completes her degrees and begins counseling traumatized combat veterans. One of them turns out to be the brother of Nermina’s unknowing sperm donor.
    Nominated for The Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions, and The Millions, Dina Greenberg’s poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared widely in such journals as Bellevue Literary Review, Pembroke Magazine, Split Rock Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Barely South, and Wilderness House Literary Review. Dina earned an MFA in fiction from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she served as managing editor for the literary journal Chautauqua. She teaches creative writing at the Cameron Art Museum and provides one-on-one writing coaching for victims of trauma. Her work leading creative writing workshops for combat veterans resulted in Nermina’s Chance. When she’s not writing, teaching, or reading, Dina loves to work transforming a previously litter-strewn median into what she and a group of neighbors hope will be a city oasis. She also loves iPhone photography, building things (think DIY compost tumbler, raised garden beds, etc.), and power walking on Wilmington, NC’s Riverwalk.
    G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped Mystery Series and a prolific baker of healthful breads and pastries. Please contact her through her website (GPGottlieb.com) if you wish to recommend an author (of a beautifully-written new novel) to interview, to listen to her previous podcast interviews, to read her mystery book reviews, or to check out some of her awesome recipes.
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    • 32 min
    Andrea Penrose, "Murder at the Royal Botanic Gardens" (Kensington, 2021)

    Andrea Penrose, "Murder at the Royal Botanic Gardens" (Kensington, 2021)

    Great Britain’s Regency Era (1811–1820) has long been wildly popular as a subject of historical fiction yet overly focused on the romance genre. The towering figures of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer have tended to dominate the field to the point where even novels that are not primarily romances exist within Austen’s world.
    But as we can see from Andrea Penrose’s Wrexford & Sloane mystery series, far more was going on during the Regency than parties and marriage politics. Penrose’s London is a gritty place filled with canny urchins, men and women of science, engineers and international businessmen, gamblers and disgraced lords and satirists who make their living off the foibles and follies of the well-to-do.
    One such satirist is Charlotte Sloane—a young artist who writes under the pen name A.J. Quill. Her network of contacts—including the two urchins who live with her, known as Raven and Hawk—proves invaluable in untangling a series of murders, the first of which Bow Street is all too eager to blame on the Earl of Wrexford. She and Wrexford become reluctant partners, then friends, and by the time we reach book 5, Murder at the Royal Botanic Gardens, they are planning their wedding.
    Wrexford is an acclaimed amateur chemist, an interest that brings him into contact with most of London’s scientific elite and accounts for his and Charlotte’s attendance at a symposium being held the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. The death of a prominent botanist, visiting from the United States (then at war with Britain), is first written off as the result of a weak heart. But certain clues point to murder, and Wrexford and Sloane’s friends and family urge them to investigate. They soon realize this crime may have international implications, and the hunt for the killer is on.
    As with the Lady Sherlock mysteries, it’s best to read this series from beginning to end, as each book develops Charlotte’s and Wrexford’s relationship, revealing new insights into their past. The characters are fascinating, the plots fast-paced and complex, and the settings richly described. If you’ve been avoiding novels set in the Regency because you associate the era with pale and predictable romances, this series will open your eyes.
    Andrea Penrose is the bestselling author of Regency-era historical fiction, including the acclaimed Wrexford & Sloane mystery series.
    C. P. Lesley is the author of two historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible and three other novels. Her next book, Song of the Sinner, will appear in January 2022.
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    • 41 min
    Dana Mack, "All Things That Deserve to Perish: A Novel of Wilhelmine Germany" (2020)

    Dana Mack, "All Things That Deserve to Perish: A Novel of Wilhelmine Germany" (2020)

    Despite all the attention paid to the two world wars of the twentieth century, not a great deal of historical fiction focuses on the period that preceded them. Dana Mack’s debut novel, All Things That Deserve to Perish, is an exception. Through its depictions of Berlin high society, the Junkers from the agricultural estates of old Prussia, and interfaith marriages, the novel explores the fraught transition to a modern, commercial economy that simultaneously promoted and complicated relations between Germans at all levels of society and their Jewish fellow citizens.
    Mack focuses her story on Elisabeth von Schwabacher, the daughter of a successful Jewish financier who has just returned from Vienna to her parents’ home in Berlin when the book opens. Lisi, as she’s known, has been training as a classical pianist, and her great ambition is to perform in concert halls and private soirées.
    Or is it? Lisi’s mother pushes the conventional future of wife and mother and rigorously oversees a diet and makeover program to ready Lisi for society, but neither of her parents wants to force their daughter into marriage, especially to a non-Jewish man. It’s Lisi herself who encourages the attentions of two noblemen, both to some extent fortune hunters—the widowed Prince Egon von Senbeck-Wittenbach and the impoverished Junker Count Wilhelm von Boening. And Lisi is also the one who chooses, when her parents press her for a decision, to start an affair with one of her suitors without considering how that may affect her ability to perform.
    The casual antisemitism expressed by many of the characters in this book is almost more jarring than the occasional outbursts of hatred and bigotry. But it is both true to the times and revealing of the fundamental social rifts in Wilhelmine Germany that, less than fifty years later, would explode in the horrors of Auschwitz and Treblinka.

    A historian, journalist, and musician, Dana Mack has published two nonfiction books on marriage and parenthood, as well as articles on music, history, culture, family issues, and education in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and many other publications. All Things That Deserve to Perish is her first novel.
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    • 44 min
    Susannah Calkins, "Cry of the Hangman" (Severn House, 2021)

    Susannah Calkins, "Cry of the Hangman" (Severn House, 2021)

    It’s December 1667 and London is still recovering both from the Plague and the Great Fire. Lucy Campion visits retired judge Master Hargrave and discovers that he’s been attacked and robbed in his home. She once worked as a maid for the judge, but she learned how to read and now works as a sort of printer’s apprentice. It turns out that a stash of the judge’s papers has been stolen. Then, while Lucy is working, trying to interest buyers in the books she has helped print, a rival storyteller poaches the crowd she has convened, and it becomes clear that his tales are directly connected to the judge’s stolen papers. When she hears someone being murdered, and that too is connected to the judge’s papers, Lucy is determined to figure out who is trying to destroy his name. In Cry of the Hangman (Severn House, 2021), the historian Susanna Calkins also manages to convey 17th century British views about order and justice, crime and punishment, legal and illegal marriages, the possibility of moving out of the social order to which one is born, and enthusiasm for the accessibility of printed materials.
    Susanna Calkins writes the award-winning Lucy Campion historical mysteries set in 17th century London and the Speakeasy Murders set in 1920s Chicago. Her books have been nominated for the Anthony, Agatha, Mary Higgins Clark, the Lefty awards, and her third mystery received the Macavity. Holding a doctorate in history, she is currently an educator at Northwestern University. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two sons. When she’s not writing or working--or maybe when she is--she enjoys interesting wines, beers and cocktails.
    I interview authors of beautifully written literary fiction and mysteries, and try to focus on independently published novels, especially by women and others whose voices deserve more attention. If your upcoming or recently published novel might be a candidate for a podcast, please contact me via my website, gpgottlieb dot com.
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    • 27 min
    Sherry Thomas, "Miss Moriarty, I Presume?" (Penguin, 2021)

    Sherry Thomas, "Miss Moriarty, I Presume?" (Penguin, 2021)

    Since Arthur Conan Doyle first created Sherlock Holmes, the great detective has gone through many permutations and been the subject of much study. As Sherry Thomas admits in this latest New Books Network interview, finding a new element to explore is not easy. But she has managed to discover one—perhaps an angle that is particularly fitting in this age of gender fluidity, although the Lady Sherlock series draws much of its punch from and plays off the stereotypes of the past, in this case Victorian England.
    In Thomas’s reimagining of the great detective, Sherlock Holmes is not only a fictional character but a front for the real detective, the disgraced younger daughter of a poverty-stricken baronet. Charlotte Holmes has an incisive intellect, an unflappable temperament, little respect for convention, and a love of books—traits that undermine her intended purpose in life as defined by her parents: to marry a wealthy, titled man. Charlotte cuts a deal with her father: if she’s still unmarried at twenty-five, he will fund her education so that she can earn her living as the headmistress of a girls’ school. But when Dad reneges on the deal, Charlotte takes matters into her own hands, with disastrous (from her parents’ perspective) but delightful (from her own) results.
    This is the setup in the first book of the Lady Sherlock series, aptly titled A Study in Scarlet Women. By the time this sixth book rolls around, Charlotte has made a name for her alter ego and had several run-ins with the infamous Professor Moriarty and his underlings. In Miss Moriarty, I Presume? (Berkley Books, 2021) the tables are turned, and the professor seeks out Charlotte for assistance in finding his missing daughter. Unless, of course, the mission is simply a trap aimed at getting the meddlesome Charlotte out of the professor’s life permanently.
    It’s best to read this engrossing series from beginning to end, as each book builds on those that came before. But watching Sherry Thomas turning the Holmes canon on its head is tremendous fun, and if you tear through the novels as I did, it won’t take long to reach Miss Moriarty, I Presume?
    Sherry Thomas is the author of historical romances, YA fantasy, and the Lady Sherlock series, which begins with A Study in Scarlet Women. Find out more about her at https://sherrythomas.com.
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    • 42 min
    Joanna Fitzpatrick, "The Artist Colony" (She Writes Press, 2021)

    Joanna Fitzpatrick, "The Artist Colony" (She Writes Press, 2021)

    By 1924, Sarah Cunningham has spent years in France establishing her own artistic style, more contemporary than the landscapes that have made her older sister, Ada Belle Davenport, famous. She has just attained her goal—a one-woman show in an exclusive Paris gallery—when Ada Belle dies unexpectedly. Sarah temporarily abandons her own career, traveling to Carmel-by-the-Sea to find out what happened.
    Sarah reaches California to discover that the local marshal has already closed the inquest into Ada Belle’s death, ruling it a suicide. The will that appoints Sarah as both beneficiary and executor has gone missing, as has a crucial series of portraits promised to a gallery in New York. Meanwhile, Sarah herself and many of Ada Belle’s friends question the suicide ruling, and as the details of Ada Belle’s final days resurface, the more striking the discrepancies become between the official verdict and the clues discovered by Sarah and her sister’s faithful Jack Russell terrier, Albert.
    In The Artist Colony (She Writes Press, 2021), Joanna FitzPatrick constructs a fast-paced mystery in which a combination of historical and fictional characters battle over uncomfortable truths against a background of brilliant sky- and seascapes, viewed with an artist’s eye.
    Joanna FitzPatrick is the author of Katherine Mansfield and The Drummer’s Widow.
    C. P. Lesley is the author of two historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible and three other novels. Her latest book, Song of the Sisters, appeared in January 2021.
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    • 42 min

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