Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Susanna Calkins | Writing the Speakeasy Murders
Author Guest / June 3, 2019

How does a 17th-century British historian move from mead and murder ballads to cocktails and speakeasies? When I first announced my new series, The Speakeasy Murders set in 1929 Chicago, I was met with excitement and some questions. Why the big jump? After all, my first series was set in mid 17th century London. Some people, very sweetly, even asked if Gina Ricci (my new protagonist) was the great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Lucy Campion (my original 17th-century protagonist)! I get the questions. I mean, on the one hand, as someone who has taught world history from the beginning of recorded time to present day, I can assure you that 260 years is not very long timespan at all! But on the other hand, the Roaring Twenties probably seems a thousand years away from the 1660s, with its decimating plague, religious warfare, and the Great Fire (After all, I used to half-joke that contemporaries referred to 1666 as the “Devil’s year.”) Socially, culturally, politically—these are very distinct eras, and I approached researching my new series very differently. While I did seek to familiarize myself through scholarly books with the general trends of the 1920s, and Chicago more specifically, I also spent a lot…

Richard A. Knaak | Top 5 Unexpected Twists
Author Guest / March 27, 2019

It should be no surprise to both readers and writers that often a story will take turns not originally expected by the author. I’ve had this happen, but never so much as with my BLACK CITY SAINT series. Here, then, are the five that caught me most off-guard. 1) Minor characters who refused to be so minor – It’s nice to have a world populated by more than just the main characters. Each novel has its share of minor ones who, hopefully, give it more depth. One of the earliest was Barnaby, who was meant to be someone who Nick had helped, and so provided him with occasional transportation. Then I began to think about why Barnaby had needed Nick’s help, which brought in another supposedly minor character — Joseph, Barnaby’s son, and a very bad egg who had run afoul of Nick. Suddenly, the history of this pair turned the storyline I was working on in an utterly different direction. Joseph’s secret involvement with the Wingfoot Express airship disaster and how Barnaby now sought to help his son, currently a resident of the Dunning mental facility, have become essential elements of the series. 2) History lending a hand to…