The official blog of Historical Fiction author, Mary Anne Yarde, and home to The Coffee Pot Book Club. Come and join Mary Anne on the hunt for everything historical, as well as mythological. Oh, and let's not forget the odd book or two! Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy...
A conversation with #HistoricalFiction author, Sherilyn Decter. Be sure to check out Sherilyn's fabulous #Giveaway #HFVBT @hfvbt
Virtual Blog Tours Presents…
By Sherilyn Decter
In a city
of bootleggers and crime, one woman must rely on a long-dead lawman to hunt
Philadelphia, 1924. Maggie Barnes doesn’t have
much left. After the death of her husband, she finds herself all alone to care
for her young son and look after their rundown house. As if that weren’t bad
enough, Prohibition has turned her neighborhood into a bootlegger’s playground.
To keep the shoddy roof over their heads, she has no choice but to take on
boarders with questionable ties…
When her son’s friend disappears, Maggie
suspects the worst. And local politicians and police don’t seem to have any
interest in an investigation. With a child’s life on the line, Maggie takes the
case and risks angering the enemy living right under her nose…
Maggie’s one advantage may be her new found
friend: the ghost of a Victorian-era cop. With his help, can she find justice
in a lawless city?
Innocence Lost is the first novel in the
Bootleggers’ Chronicles, a series of historical fiction tales. If you like
headstrong heroines, Prohibition-era criminal underworlds, and just a touch of
the paranormal, then you’ll love Sherilyn Decter’s gripping tale.
conversation with Historical Fiction author, Sherilyn Decter.
Please give a warm welcome to
Historical Fiction author, Sherilyn Decter. Sherilyn could you tell us a
little about yourself.
A few years ago, I retired from a
demanding job in the public sector. Staring ahead of me, for the first time in
my life, was a blank slate. It was thrilling and intimidating to look out and
see… nothing. It felt like I could become whoever I wanted to be, do whatever I
wanted to do. It took almost a year to sort through the choices and decide on a
course of action. Perhaps this is why the theme of a middle-aged woman at the
crossroads of her life resonates with me. Write what you know, right?
With the arrogance of most readers,
I decided I wanted to write a book. ‘How hard can it be?’ Pretty darn hard,
apparently. But I had time and passion, two Mexican rescue pups to keep me
company, and a loving husband to listen to me whine.
Launching my fourth career, this
time as an author of historical fiction has been an adventure. I love history,
and I live in a century-old house. It is perhaps its creaks and groans that
inspired the touch of paranormal in the series.
What inspired you to write
Innocence Lost and the Bootleggers’ Chronicles series?
I have always had a deep love of
history. From the legends of King Arthur to the temples of Julius Caesar, from
Elizabethan palace intrigue to the trenches of World War I. Understanding, not
just the who and what of the past, but also the why has always held me captive.
One era in American history that
fascinates me is the Roaring Twenties. Americans had made it through the
gauntlet of destruction and violence of the Great War to emerge on the other
side; living for today, revealing in the casting off social values and
expectations of their parents’ generation, determined to enjoy all that life
could offer and then some. The music, the fashion, the opportunities for women;
the 1920s were an exciting and dangerous time.
Overlay that with Prohibition, a
government that dared to tell this devil-may-care hedonistic generation that
they couldn’t do something and it’s bound to get interesting.
I always thought there is something
wildly romantic about the 1920s — the dresses, the hairstyle, and the music.
What kind of challenges did you faced while researching this period of history?
Some aspects of the Twenties are
very well documented. I spent countless hours poring over fashion. There is
something addicting about feathers, fringes, and sequins: I couldn’t take my
eyes off them. (and if you too have a secret passion for flapper fashions,
check out my Pinterest page… enough eye candy there to make Miss Fisher or the
gals at Downton Abbey green with envy.)
The day to day life, when the
bootleggers and flappers weren’t out cutting-a-rug, had less information.
Fortunately, even though we are one hundred years away from those times, it’s
still within the living memory of our older family members. Stories passed down
by grandparents; secret illegal hooch runs in the dead of night by disreputable
great-uncles, sepia-tinted wedding photographs of blushing brides and bashful
grooms, are part of our collective memory.
The internet became my doorway into
this era, and I knocked on many others’ doors in the process. If I had a
specific question, I could fire off an email. What were the Business classes
like in 1923, especially for women? An email to the archivist at Drexel
University in Philadelphia (where the series is set) produced electronic copies
of old recruitment brochures, photographs, and introductions to resident
historians. What did nurses wear in 1924 in Hahnemann Hospital? There was a
museum eager to help.
Research is never a solitary
process, and I want to give a huge shout out to all those that helped me make
my books as authentic as possible.
I love researching and it sounds
like you do as well. There are many books about Prohibition and the Roaring
Twenties. Can you tell us three things that set your series apart?
Firstly, I wanted to look at what
it was like as an ordinary person living through extraordinary times.
Philadelphia was a bootlegger’s playground, albeit overshadowed by the
gangsters in New York and Chicago. What did that mean for a widow struggling on
a tight budget trying to raise her son and keep him safe? There were some
critical choices for Maggie to make that need the spirit of those times to push
her well outside her comfort zone. Some of them were good choices, and some had
Like Maggie, all of us face forks
in the road, of being put in impossible situations that ask much of us. The
ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and
convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. (Martin
Secondly, while Maggie is deeply
and richly drawn, I didn’t want to shy away from some of the more unpleasant
aspects of the era. It’s a book about bootleggers, and so there is crime and
violence. It is a book about a woman devoted to her son and the memory of her
husband, so there is minimal romance. Cracks begin to appear quickly in
Maggie’s well-ordered world. The disappearance of her son’s friend, the arrival
of a mysterious retired police detective, opening her home to lodgers, all push
her along a path of rediscovering who she is.
Finally, the world is not ruined by
the wickedness of the wicked, but by the weakness of the good. The foundation
of the series is who will stand for justice and the consequences of when that
call isn’t answered.
Your series sounds utterly
enchanting. Can you tell us what you are currently working on?
just finished the five book series of the Bootleggers’ Chronicles. Inspired by
the research and some of the characters I met along the way, I’ve just started
work on the Rum Runners Chronicles set in Florida, the Bahamas, and Havana.
This trilogy is also about a woman who is launching a new chapter in her life
and is the story of how she thrives in the murky world of illegal liquor,
sketchy speakeasies and blind tiger-gin joints.
It has been lovely talking with you, Sherilyn.
Good luck with the rest of your tour.
Blog Tour we will be giving away two prize packs of a copy of the book, a set
of Paper Dolls, and a Jazz Age Fashion Coloring Book! You can enter
Sherilyn Decter is a writer,
researcher, and lover of historical fiction. Her work is set in the Roaring
Twenties and if you like feisty and determined heroines, complex cover-ups,
Prohibition stories about criminal underworlds, police and political corruption,
then you’re going to love Sherilyn’s grand gangster tales.