Morning folks! Today, I’m thrilled to share a guest post and excerpt from the new release from Ana Brazil.
Read on for info, or skip to the next section for the feature!
Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper
by Ana Brazil
Publication Date: November 1, 2017
Sand Hill Review Press
Formats: Paperback & eBook
Gilded Age New Orleans is overrun with prostitutes, pornographers, and a malicious Jack the Ripper copycat. As threatening letters to newspaper editors proclaim, no woman is safe from his blade.
Desperate to know who murdered her favourite student, ambitious typewriting teacher Fanny Newcomb launches into a hunt for the self-proclaimed Irish Channel Ripper.
Fanny quickly enlists her well-connected employers—Principal Sylvia Giddings and her sister Dr. Olive—to help, and the women forge through saloons, cemeteries, slums, and houses of prostitution in their pursuit.
Fanny’s good intentions quickly infuriate her longtime beau Lawrence Decatur, while her reckless persistence confounds the talented police detective Daniel Crenshaw. Reluctantly, Lawrence and Daniel also lend their investigative talents to Fanny’s investigation.
As the murderer sets a date for his next heinous crime, can Fanny Newcomb and her crew stop the Irish Channel Ripper before he kills again?
A Streetcar named Gilded Age New Orleans ~
The starts and stops of writing a historical mystery
Thanks for hosting me today, Jen! I thrilled to be sharing some of the inspiration for my debut mystery Fanny Newcomb & the Irish Channel Ripper!
Since Fanny Newcomb is set in Gilded Age New Orleans, I want to start with a short word association game. When I say “New Orleans”, I’m guessing that you’ll say “Mardi Gras parades! Streetcars! Beignets! Hurricanes! The French Quarter! Jazz!”
And when I say “Gilded Age New Orleans”, I’m guessing that you’ll ask “What’s the Gilded Age”? And that’s a very fair question. The short answer is: in American studies, the Gilded Age is the time period from 1877 to 1900, which is about the same time period as Britain’s late Victorian era.
I didn’t know about America’s Gilded Age until I studied history at Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee. FSU was also where I learned about women’s history. I was awestruck by the stories of late 19th century American women who lived life on their own independent terms while at the same time helping to improve the lives of other people.
My new heroines were women like settlement house founders Jane Addams and Ellen Starr Gates, social reformer Florence Kelley, and women’s suffrage advocate Alice Stone Blackwell. And of course, I adored the female adventurers like “around-the-world-in-72-days” journalist Nellie Bly and presidential candidate Victoria Woodhull!
By the time I started working on my graduate history degree, I also adored the city of New Orleans (only six hours from Tallahassee). I was totally seduced by the romantically shabby French Quarter, the magnificent mansions of Audubon Place, the non-stop tropical greenery, and the overwhelming feeling that this old, old city was expecting me to love it. And reader, I did.
Not surprisingly, my fascination for Gilded Age heroines and the city of New Orleans intersected! I was inspired to write my master’s thesis about the women (and men) who championed charitable and progressive social causes in late 19th century New Orleans.
To research my thesis, I lived in New Orleans for one very hot and very humid summer. I stayed on the top floor of a rickety Queen Anne house in the lower Garden District and rode the St. Charles Avenue streetcar to Tulane University (or the Public Library or the University of New Orleans) archives every weekday. On the weekends, I walked the narrow streets of the French Quarter, strolled along the riverfront, and haunted the air-conditioned historical museums. My thesis was entitled “Voluntarism in New Orleans, 1878-1905” and focused on citizen efforts to prevent yellow fever outbreaks.
After I received my master’s degree, it seemed so natural to write a novel that incorporated everything I had already learned about New Orleans. Specifically, I wanted to write a novel about clever, educated New Orleans women who had fresh ideas about life and who worked in a settlement house. And I wanted to write about smart women who wanted to solve difficult problems like…well, like murder. Because in addition to my love of history, I also loved to read the mysteries of Dorothy L. Sayers (who was one of my favorite smart women). Not to mention that I loved Arthur Conan Doyle’s Victorian detective stories.
But before I could start that first novel about New Orleans, I became captivated by the mythology of London’s Jack the Ripper.
So I put my New Orleans manuscript in the drawer and tried to write a murder mystery which included (1) A very clever 25-year-old spinster living in (2) Late Victorian London, who (3) Worked and lived at the Toynbee Hall Settlement House in Whitechapel, and is so (4) Fascinated by Jack the Ripper’s gruesome murders of prostitutes that she (5) Decides she must do some detecting on her own.
Still with me?
After many false writing starts, I realized that as much as I loved stories set in England, Victorian London just wasn’t “my town”. But Gilded Age New Orleans was.
Once I brought my mystery “home” to New Orleans, much of the Fanny Newcomb & the Irish Channel Ripper story fell into place. I still had a lot of research to do: reading issues of the 1889 Daily Picayune newspaper, vacationing in New Orleans as often as possible (hard work, I know; but an author must make sacrifices!), and—my favorite type of research—touring through Gilded Age buildings that still exist, such as the awe-inspiring St. Alphonsus Catholic Church.
So although I was momentarily seduced by Jack the Ripper and Victorian London, in the end I returned to Gilded Age New Orleans and wrote about a courageous southern woman pursuing a Jack the Ripper copycat. And I got to write about Mardi Gras, streetcars, and the French Quarter.
Maybe in Fanny Newcomb’s next Gilded Age adventure, I’ll get to write about hurricanes, beignets, and jazz.
(Postcards are from Ana’s collection…more research!)
A native of California, Ana Brazil lived in the south for many years. She earned her MA in American history from Florida State University and traveled her way through Mississippi as an architectural historian. Ana loves fried mullet, Greek Revival colonnades, and Miss Welty’s garden. She has a weakness for almost all things New Orleans. (Although she’s not sure just how it happened…but she favors bluegrass over jazz.)
The Fanny Newcomb stories celebrate the tenacity, intelligence, and wisdom of the dozens of courageous and outrageous southern women that Ana is proud to call friends.
Although Ana, her husband, and their dog Traveller live in the beautiful Oakland foothills, she is forever drawn to the lush mystique of New Orleans, where Fanny Newcomb and her friends are ever prepared to seek a certain justice.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, November 6
Feature at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, November 7
Feature at The Never-Ending Book
Thursday, November 9
Feature at The Bookworm
Sunday, November 12
Review at Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings
Tuesday, November 14
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, November 15
Guest Post & Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit
Friday, November 17
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Monday, November 20
Guest Post at The Book Junkie Reads
Wednesday, November 22
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Monday, November 27
Feature at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots
Friday, December 1
Interview at T’s Stuff
Tuesday, December 5
Feature at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, December 6
Feature at A Literary Vacation
Sunday, December 10
Review at WS Momma Readers Nook
Wednesday, December 13
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, December 15
Review & Excerpt at Locks, Hooks and Books
During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.