Book Link: http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9781101506141,00.html?Louisa_and_the_Missing_Heiress_Anna_Maclean
Anna, thank you so much for including us in your blog tour. If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future? Why?
Absolutely! I would love to, say, sit in on a twelfth century Court of Love in the south of
If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
What a fun question. First. Benjamin Franklin. I know history makes him sound a little stodgy, all that founding father stuff, but if you read his writings and his biographies you get the sense that this working-class philosopher really knew how to party. He had great wit. I’d invite Eleanor of
Hey, there's nothing stodgy about Franklin. You're right about the partying.What is one book everyone should read?
Just one? I’d have to go with the collected plays of Shakespeare. They have every plot, every character, every emotion and outcome possible. If you read them out loud, you fall in love with language all over again.
Good choice. What inspired you to want to become a writer?
The fantasy of it, the way it allows me to live different lives and be many people. Every time I research a new place and time it’s like acquiring a new lifetime. Stories are my lifeblood. Whenever I meet a new person I want to say “Telll me your story!” That could get pretty rude, so I invent stories. For me, the world is made of language, even more so than images or pictures, and my imagination requires that the world constantly be made again in new stories with telling language.
Well said!Tell us about your work.
My most recent mystery, Louisa and the Crystal Gazer, has just been re—released by NAL; the previous two, Louisa and the Missing Heiress and Louisa and the Country Bachelor, are also available. The mysteries feature Louisa May Alcott (yes, the author of Little Women!) as an amateur detective, solving crimes in mid-nineteenth century
New England. Louisa was a great character to work with, to spend time with. She was intelligent and independent and also very loving, very loyal to her family. She knew hard times and financial worries and had a heartbreak or two, I’m sure.
For the mysteries, I created plots and settings that might actually have occurred – dramas the real Louisa might have heard of, or been familiar with: daughters eloping with the ‘wrong’ man, husbands disappearing on various battlefields, working girls abused and abandoned by the upper classes. The murders in the mysteries – and all three are murder mysteries –- personalize the history and culture of mid-nineteenth century
. And Louisa gets to have a bit of fun, as well, during the investigations. She has a sense of humor. America
I’ve been writing and publishing historical fiction for some years now, beginning with a story set in the French Revolution ( The Frenchwoman) moving back in time to medieval France (The Queen’s War) then jumping forward again into the Napoleonic era, when Napoleon went to Egypt (Dreams of Empire.) I wrote a novel about nineteenth century American spiritualism and the famous Fox sisters (The Sweet By and By) and am working on an Elizabethan novel.
So cool! Alcott was my favorite author when I was a kid. Would you share your links with us?
We'd love to read an excerpt.
Thanks so much for hosting me! Hope you enjoy the excerpt from Louisa and the Crystal Gazer.
Thank you for coming. Readers, I've ready the excerpt and it's great.
In December of 1855 I found myself in Boston, temporarily separated from my beloved family in Walpole, New Hampshire, and facing a Christmas, that most wonderful of seasons, without the comfort of my loved ones.
But drudge a living I must, for I was not yet the rich and famous author I later became. My stories, when they sold, earned little, and so I had sought employment and received an offer from Reverend Ezra Gannett, who wished me to complete an order or a dozen winter shirts for him, all to be finely seamed, buttonholed, and finished with pleats and embroidery.
I was an unenthused seamstress at best, but his payment would allow me to purchase Christmas presents for my family, so I accepted his offer.
My dear friend Sylvia Shattuck was also in residence in
…Sylvia, however, was in a strange frame of mind, one that set into motion a course of events that would involve us in murder, faithless lovers, and sad deeds of a dark past. Beware of boredom, gentle reader. It can lead down dangerous paths. Boston
“I miss Father,” she sighed one morning as we took our walk along the harbor. It was a misty, cold day, and the harbor waves were tipped with frosty white.
“Unfortunately, you father passed away when you were a child,” I answered gently “You barely knew that long-enduring man, so how do you now claim to miss him?”
I t was unlike Sylvia to yearn for any family member, dead or alive, and I had a vague presentiment that she was to introduce yet another faddish custom into my life. Sylvia lived in vogues, and had just relinquished Confucianism, which had brought the enlightenment she sought. No use to explain to her that philosophers spent years at that task; Sylvia tended to give three months and then move on.
“My point exactly,” my companion responded, turning upon me bright eyes filled with a passionate melancholy. “I feel the need for a masculine presence in my life, and would like to converse with my father. I will, with the assistance of Mrs. Agatha Percy. Please come with me to one of sittings!”
Ship rigging creaked in the wind and bells chimed the start of a new watch, and I pondered Sylvia’s statement.
Mrs. Agatha D. Percy was the newest fad in
, one of the recently risen members of that questionable group of individuals known as ‘spiritists’ or mediums. One must feel a heavy burden of ennui to wish to spend time at that dubious amusement, I thought. Boston
“Oh, it will be such fun, Louisa! All of
goes!” Sylvia persisted. Boston
“Then it must be quite crowded,” I rejoined, walking at a faster pace to try to dissuade Sylvia from this topic…”I am unconvinced that ‘fun’ is the correct word to describe an hour of sitting in the dark, pretending to speak with the dead.”
“Spirits,” corrected Sylvia. “The dead don’t l like to be called dead. Such a harsh word.”
Neither of us was yet aware of exactly how harsh that séance would become.
Readers, Anna is giving away a gift basket to one randomly drawn commenter, so follow her tour and comment often. For the tour schedule go to http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/01/virtual-book-tour-louisa-and-crystal.html.