I'd like to welcome Anna Loan-Wilsey to the blog today. Anna writes the Hattie Davish Mystery series. A Sense of Entitlement is the third book in the series and is set to be released on June 24.
AL-W: I have loved this era since I was a child. I live in a house built in 1892, complete with a parlor (with Eastlake furniture), a library (with a bust of Louis Agassiz and wall-to-wall bookshelves) and a dining room with Bradbury & Bradbury wallpaper. I have a collection of 19th century teacups which I use every day. I think I was initially attracted by the Victorian flare for decoration and a sense of gentility that high tea, fancy hats and long bustle skirts conveyed. However, the more I learned about the era, the more I was intrigued by the turbulence of change in the era’s politics, social values and technology. It is a time ripe with conflict!
Kathy:Historical mysteries require an extra special brand of research. What's your favorite method to research this time period?
AL-W: My favorite method is to visit the location and immerse myself in the time and place. I walk the streets, tour houses and pore through period documents all the while envisioning what Hattie would do, see and read. On one such trip, I spent days becoming acquainted with a town, its buildings and especially its people to such an extent that when I visited the cemetery it was a shock to me to realize that the people I’d been reading about in the newspaper and city directories, who just hours ago seemed so alive, were all dead!
Kathy: In each of the books Hattie travels to a different state. How do you decide where she travels?
AL-W: Because I take much of my plot from true stories I uncover at a location, I look for towns that have an interesting history. (Eureka Springs,AR was a famous Victorian health resort. Galena, IL has a strong Civil War background. Newport, RI is the renowned summer playground for the rich.) In addition, I look for places that have a great deal of its Victorian or pre-Victorian architecture still intact and would be a place that others might like to visit. I’m also conscious of the need to spread the places out geographically-hopefully one of the next books will take Hattie either to the Deep South or the “Wild West.”
Kathy: In A Sense of Entitlement Hattie has to deal with unions. Are you a union member? Have you ever been one?
AL-W: No, I’ve never been associated with a union. I chose this topic because this was the era when unions were gaining in strength but also creating controversy and discord between the classes.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
AL-W: When I was a teenager, I picked up my mother’s copy of A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie hoping it would help me sleep. Instead I read the whole thing in one night. I’ve been hooked on cozy mysteries ever since.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
AL-W: No. I have had a few poems published in the past and I’ve written down a few concepts for a fantasy novel but right now Hattie’s adventures are more than enough to keep me busy and happy.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
AL-W: My series follows the adventures of Miss Hattie Davish, a traveling Victorian private secretary who works for the rich and famous of her day and who, on occasion, finds one of them dead!
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
AL-W: I do so love Miss Lucy. She makes me laugh, cringe and sigh all at the same time. She can say anything and get away with it.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
AL-W: As most writers of cozy mysteries will say, no one is more inspiring that Agatha Christie, but I was also heavily influenced by the Murder She Wrote series where mystery writer Jessica Fletcher often travels to fun and fatal destinations. And for A Sense of Entitlement, I was definitely influenced by period dramas such as Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey (Cora’s mother even has a “cottage” in Newport) for their look at the many conflicts between the social classes. I like to joke that my series is like Agatha Christie meets Murder She Wrote with a Downton Abbey twist, in the US.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
AL-W: I had always aspired to be a writer (writing poetry and short stories in high school and college) but had spent most of my career writing scientific articles and reports. When my “day job” at the university was phased out, I took the opportunity to pursue writing fiction seriously. Writing became my day job and my goal was to see it published. With a great deal of persistence and luck, I accomplished my dream. And it still seems like a dream!
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
AL-W: Agatha Christie, for obvious reasons, Jane Austen, because I love her books, Mark Twain, as a writer, a humorist, a satirist and the ultimate Victorian, I would not only learn from him but he would be the life of the party, and then either James Michener or Irving Stone, whichever would be so gracious to RSVP, because both are masters at historical research.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
AL-W: Domestic Malice by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
AL-W: Between working on book 4 in the series and hanging out with my 4 year old, I don’t have much time for hobbies. However, there are a few things I take the time to enjoy including travel (anywhere, anytime) baking bread (I’ve conquered the baguette, ciabatta and deli rye, now I want to try brioche and bagels!) and of course, watching any and every BBC mystery or period drama I can get through PBS.org or Netflix.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
AL-W: Chinese Dumplings (at least two kinds in freezer), Pasta (at least three kinds in the pantry), Rice (a ten pound bag of Basmati) and Tomatoes (when we aren’t growing them in the garden, we have stewed and diced in pantry, fresh grape, cherry and/or roma in fridge)
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
AL-W: Yes, I just signed a contract to write books 4 & 5 in my current series. That should keep me busy for quite a while.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
AL-W: My absolute favorite thing about being an author is connecting with readers, either at book signings, on Facebook, on Goodreads, through reviews or email. I’ve met countless interesting, wonderful people from around the world I would never have known had it not been for my writing.
Would you like a chance to win a print book? Leave a comment telling us what you'd like to see Hattie get involved with next. Leave your comment along with a working e-mail address by 11:59pm Monday, June 9 and I'll announce the winner on Tuesday, June 10th. Also be sure to enter the rafflecopter for a chance to win an entire set of autographed Hattie Davish mysteries.
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