Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Kathleen Y’Barbo | Jack the Ripper’s Texas Connection: Behind the Writing of The Black Midnight
Author Guest / August 3, 2020

I am a tenth-generation Texan, but London has held a place in my heart for over ten years. You see, I have a son who has lived there for more than a decade. Thanks to him and his family of three–my granddaughter was born there on New Year’s Eve 2019–the city will always be special to me. There is absolutely nothing like walking those streets with a thousand years of history close enough to touch. It was on a walk with my son through this great city that the stories of nineteenth-century London came alive. With fog shrouding the rooftops of buildings that were hundreds of years old and our footsteps echoing on the cobblestones, I could imagine a time when lack of electricity and CCTV would make this place less than charming on a dark night. Less than safe. What reminded me of my favorite childhood movie, Mary Poppins, quickly became more reminiscent of Jack the Ripper. And then a story was born. Only I just had half the story. The other half came to me several years later when I stumbled across an article in Texas Monthly magazine about a serial killer who rampaged through Austin, Texas in…

Jennifer Ashley | 20 Questions: MURDER IN THE EAST END
Author Guest / August 3, 2020

1–What’s the name of your latest release?  Murder in the East End (Below Stairs Mysteries Book 4) 2–What is it about?  Kat Holloway, a cook in a Mount Street mansion in Victorian London is asked to look into the disappearance of a nurse from the Foundling Hospital. Distressed for the woman, and intrigued, because the request comes from the foster brother of Daniel McAdam, a man she’s falling for, Kat can’t refuse. 3–What word best describes your main character(s)?  Tenacious 4–What makes your story relatable? The character of Kat. She’s an ordinary person, not an aristocrat or wealthy dilettante. She works very hard, is good at what she does, and knows exactly who she is. 5–Who are the people your main characters turn to when they need help?  Kat turns to Daniel McAdam, who is a man-of-all-work who sometimes masquerades as an upper-class gentleman in order to assist the police. She also relies on Lady Cynthia, who prefers men’s clothing to women’s more restrictive ones, and Mr. Thanos, a genius mathematician who is smitten with Cynthia. Kat’s kitchen assistant, Tess, and Daniel’s son, James, round out the irregulars. 6–What do you love about the setting of your book?  The Victorian…

Maggie Robinson | Cover-up
Author Guest / July 29, 2020

Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk about my latest Lady Adelaide Mystery, Just Make Believe! This 1920s-set cozy-with-a-touch-of-paranormal features Addie, an aristocratic widow, the pesky ghost of her cheating husband Rupert, and Dev, a divine Scotland Yard detective. Not the usual love triangle for sure, LOL. Rupert is stuck in Limbo after a very rakish life, and unless he protects and assists Addie, he’ll never get to Heaven and redemption. The series has been the most fun for me in my over-twenty years’ book career, and I hope readers are equally amused! In Just make Believe, Addie’s been invited to a week-long house party, but how can she have fun when bodies are piling up everywhere? Rupert and Detective Inspector Devenand Hunter to the rescue! Here’s the blurb: A week-long house party in the country–why not? Lady Adelaide has nothing else to do, now that her year of mourning for her unfaithful husband is up and her plans to rekindle her romantic life have backfired. But when her hostess is found dead on the conservatory floor, Addie knows just who to call Detective Inspector Devenand Hunter of Scotland Yard. Dev may not want to kiss Addie again, but…

Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: Vive La France!
Author Guest / July 15, 2020

For the month of Bastille Day, I’m serving up a selection of historical fiction that captures the time just before, during, and after the Revolution. Caught in the merciless cogs of this seismic shift are four very different women, some who will thrive–and one who will pay the ultimate price for being on the wrong side of history. Beginning first with the one who loses the most, we have ABUNDANCE by Sena Jeter Naslund. Much like Sophia Coppola’s film Marie Antoinette, Naslund’s book looks at Marie’s life through her own eyes. Beginning as a giddy 14-year old thrilled to be going to France to marry the 15-year-old Dauphin, completely unprepared for the vicious cauldron of political intrigue that is Versailles, Marie is dazzled by the court, who seemed charmed by her. But although she works hard to build a relationship with her husband, his failure to consummate the marriage and give France the heir it needs sours her life at court. She buries her disappointment by retreating in opulent comfort, surrounding herself with a small coterie of women friends, the Austrian ambassador–the Swedish Count Von Fersen. By the time the long-awaited children arrive, France is in desperate circumstances, with bitter…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: THE LIONS OF FIFTH AVENUE by FIONA DAVIS
Author Guest / July 10, 2020

Jen: What inspired you to write THE LIONS OF FIFTH AVENUE? Fiona: At author talks and book signings, readers often suggest New York City landmarks they’d like to see featured in my novels. The New York Public Library came up repeatedly, so I figured I’d do a little research into its construction and history. I learned that when it opened in 1911, the superintendent lived in a seven-room apartment deep inside the library with his wife and three children. The idea of a family living in this monument of marble that’s filled with books struck me as a perfect setting for a novel, and I was up and running–although I created a fictional family for the story.  What is the catalyst behind Laura’s decision to apply to the Columbia Journalism School?  Laura, the superintendent’s wife, has been living in the library for a couple of years, and feels stifled and lonely–it’s not like there are any neighbors to chat with or borrow milk from, as there would be in a regular New York City apartment building. She’s been writing a column about her life raising her two children in a library for the employee newsletter, and when she hears that…

Elise Hooper | Exclusive Interview: FAST GIRLS
Author Guest / July 8, 2020

Hi, Elise! Welcome to Fresh Fiction. Please tell us about yourself and your new book, FAST GIRLS. Fast Girls is historical fiction about three trailblazing American women track stars of the 1930s who come together to compete in the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Berlin, and it’s inspired by a true story. The summer Olympics, which so many people look forward to, have been postponed this year for the safety of athletes and spectators during the global pandemic. I know I will miss watching them! Do you have a favorite Olympic sport to watch? I love both the winter and summer Games and pretty much watch everything! From swimming to synchronized swimming to track and field, I want it all! FAST GIRLS tells the story of three women athletes at the tumultuous 1936 Olympics in Germany. What drew you to this time in history? What was something you learned that completely surprised you? The 1930s are such an interesting time from a political, social, and economic standpoint, and I hadn’t realized how close the U.S. came to boycotting the 1936 Games. It’s fascinating to contemplate how history could have played out differently if Hitler hadn’t been given the world stage to…

Ann H. Gabhart | 20 Questions: AN APPALACHIAN SUMMER
Author Guest / July 1, 2020

1–What’s the name of your latest release?  An Appalachian Summer. 2–What is it about?  In 1933, debutante Piper Danson, craving more from life than simply an advantageous marriage, jumps at the opportunity to volunteer with the Frontier Nursing Service in the Appalachian Mountains. Romance and adventure are in the Kentucky mountain air in this story of a woman caught between two worlds—each promising something different. 3–What word best describes your heroine?  Spunky. 4–What makes your hero irresistible?  How much he loves my heroine and that gorgeous smile. 5–Who are the people your main characters turn to when they need help?  My heroine, Piper, could always depend on her aunt Truda to be on her side and understand her desire to do something different. My hero, Jamie, also had a champion in his uncle Wyatt who was a steadying influence when everything was going wrong for Jamie and his family.  6–What do you love about the setting of your book?  I love going to the mountains for a story. Even when times are hard as they were in the 1930’s flowers still bloom. Creeks still sparkle in the sun. People still have babies. So I enjoyed the mountain scenery, the mountain…

Chanel Cleeton | Exclusive Interview: THE LAST TRAIN TO KEY WEST
Author Guest / June 17, 2020

Hi, Chanel! Welcome to Fresh Fiction! Please tell us about yourself and your new book, THE LAST TRAIN TO KEY WEST. Thank you so much for having me! I write historical fiction that focuses on women’s stories throughout history. My first two historical fiction releases, Next Year in Havana and When We Left Cuba, were largely inspired by my Cuban heritage and my family’s love for their homeland. My new book, The Last Train to Key West, is set decades earlier in 1935 when the Labor Day Hurricane struck the Florida Keys. The Last Train to Key West follows three heroines as their paths cross in unexpected and dangerous ways, and readers of my earlier books will recognize a familiar last name as I follow Beatriz and Elisa’s aunt through history. I love the different formats you’ve used for setting the scene of the historical stories you’ve told so far. In Next Year in Havana there were dual timelines, When We Left Cuba was set entirely in the past from one point of view, and in THE LAST TRAIN TO KEY WEST there are three women’s stories set over Labor Day Weekend in Key West.  How do you decide to…

Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: Resisting the Beast
Author Guest / June 17, 2020

Last month we looked at lives impacted by World War I.  This month we’ll continue reading about the extraordinary feats and stoic acts of heroism men and women find themselves capable of when tested by the cataclysm that was World War II—a fitting topic as our world continues to battle an invisible modern-day enemy. Not all the heroics happen in desperate clashes between uniformed soldiers.  Jennifer Ryan’s THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR shows us the increasing strain of worry and scarcity in a small village on the English home front.  When the men of Chilbury go off to war, the vicar suggests that the church choir, stripped of its male voices, suspend operation.  Instead, several forthright ladies decide they will “carry on singing” as the Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.  Presented through letters and diary entries, the author follows the lives and struggles of the choir’s members, including an agonized widow whose only son goes off to war; a flirtatious teenager drawn to a mysterious artist, a refugee hiding secrets, and the choir director who inspires them.  Intrigue, heartbreak, and courage carry the ladies of this small town through these dangerous and desperate days. From England, we switch to Norway in UNDER DARKENING…

SUMMER BBQ RECIPE ROUNDUP | Fast Girls by Elise Hooper
Author Guest / June 17, 2020

Today, we are pleased to share a delectable side dish in today’s BBQ Recipe Roundup from historical fiction novelist Elise Hooper. Her fascinating new novel, FAST GIRLS, is based on the true story of three women who competed during the 1936 Olympics. Remember: the recipe roundup is all week, so come back tomorrow and catch up on the earlier posts, too: Day 1, an appetizer with Lynn Austin: https://freshfiction.com/page.php?id=10708 Day 2, a main course with Dylann Crush: https://freshfiction.com/page.php?id=10709 Fast Girls is historical fiction inspired by three pioneering real-life women track champions of the 1930s. In the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, Chicago’s Betty Robinson competes as a member of the first-ever women’s delegation in track and field. Destined for further glory, she returns home feted as America’s Golden Girl until a nearly-fatal airplane crash threatens to end everything. Outside of Boston, Louise Stokes, one of the few black girls in her town, sees competing as an opportunity to overcome the limitations placed on her. Eager to prove that she has what it takes to be a champion, she risks everything to join the Olympic team. From Missouri, Helen Stephens, awkward, tomboyish, and poor, is considered an outcast by her schoolmates, but…