Q&A and GIVEAWAY: Blackmail, Sex and Lies
Hello and happy weekend to my readers! I have the great pleasure of welcoming Kathryn McMaster to my blog to talk to her about her upcoming nonfiction book, Blackmail, Sex and Lies, an accounting of Madeleine Hamilton Smith and her dead french lover, Pierre Emile L’Anglier. Midcentury 1800’s Scotland comes alive in McMaster’s masterful telling of the trial of the century and I was lucky enough to talk to her about her work. Read below for my interview.
Kathryn McMaster has generously offered a free copy of her book to one lucky reader. If you would like to be considered, leave a comment below, or on my facebook and one reader will be chosen at random on December 14th (Thursday) for a copy of Blackmail, Sex and Lies.
Blackmail, Sex and Lies
Blackmail, Sex and Lies is a story of deception, scandal, and fractured traditional Victorian social values. It is the tale of a naïve, young woman caught up in a whirlwind romance with a much older man. However, both have personality flaws that result in poor choices, and ultimately lead to a tragic end.
For 160 years, people have believed Madeleine Smith to have been guilty of murder. But was she? Could she have been innocent after all?
This Victorian murder mystery, based on a true story, takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, 1857. It explores the disastrous romance between the vivacious socialite, Madeleine Hamilton Smith, and her working class lover, Pierre Emile L’Angelier. After a two-year torrid, and forbidden relationship with L’Angelier, that takes place against her parents’ wishes, the situation changes dramatically when William Minnoch enters the scene. This new man in Madeleine’s life is handsome, rich, and of her social class. He is also a man of whom her family approve.
Sadly, insane jealous rages, and threats of blackmail, are suddenly silenced by an untimely death.
(1) OVERDUE BOOK REVIEWS: What was the spark that influenced your writing of “Blackmail, Sex, and Lies”?
KATHRYN MCMASTER: The scandal surrounding Madeleine Smith has been going on for 160 years. To this day, people are very divided on whether she poisoned her lover back in 1857, or not. The majority of people are convinced that she did. However, the more I researched the story, the more I realised that there was a good chance that while L’Angelier’s death was very convenient for Madeleine, she may well have been innocent, after all. There were many true crime books on the market, covering this story, but none that touched on the human element, and what Madeleine must have going through finding herself in an abusive relationship that she had been forbidden to enter. It was this that prompted me to write the story.
(2) ODBR: This book revolves around the relationship between Madeline Smith, well-bred young woman and Emile L’Angelier, her lower-class and emotionally volatile young lover. Who did you like writing about best?
KATHRYN MCMASTER: Actually, because both characters are so central to the story, I enjoyed writing about both of them. Both had character flaws, and through their speech and actions one can see the development of Madeleine, and Emile, as he was known. She is young, foolish, headstrong and very naïve. However, towards the end of the story she has grown up enormously and finally realizes that she is in a toxic relationship from which she needs to escape.
Emile is calculating, controlling and manipulative. However, he only shows these traits much later on, and so is this chameleon, who presents himself as one thing, when in fact, he is entirely another.
(3) ODBR: I know that your writing focus is on unsolved crimes that occurred during the Victorian and Edwardian eras, but are there other eras or genres you’re interested in writing? Do you think you’ll ever write a purely fictional novel?
KATHRYN MCMASTER: I am actually thinking of going the other way and writing pure true crime instead of fictional accounts of true crime. These stories would be looking at interesting cases from the 40’s through to present times. While I enjoy the fiction side, I am also aware of writing to market and looking at areas with less competition and more sales. There is also another reason for wanting to write just pure true crime. When you write in a genre like I do, which was started by Truman Capote with his book, “In Cold Blood”, written more than fifty years ago, called fact fiction, or creative nonfiction, with still no recognition from BISAC or Amazon, it makes it hard. It is difficult to find readers, because you have no label to market yourself that would fit what you write. If I market the book as true crime, I upset a certain sector of readers, because of the fictional elements. If I market the book as fiction, I upset a sector of readers who complain that some parts are too factual. In the end, you alienate, and this is not what you want for a reader. I really enjoy the true crime aspects of my stories, and so, although I have a pure fiction manuscript on the backburner that is about a serial killer on the loose, it will probably never see the light of day as there is enough material for me in the true crime sector to keep me busy for years to come.
(4) ODBR: Your books are impeccably researched, to the point where I felt as if I stepped back in time. Can you describe your research practice or process?
KATHRYN MCMASTER: Thank you for recognizing that. I do spend an enormous amount of time researching my work. Research can often take three to four months before I start. I examine both primary and secondary resources – court transcripts, census records, historical newspapers, original correspondence, diaries, books and online resources. I research modes of transport of the time, clothing, furniture, shops, streets, places, distances, medicinal practices … the list goes on. All the research helps to build the Victorian world in which the characters are placed and how their lives unfold.
(5) ODBR: Where do you like to do your writing? Do you have a dedicated office space in your home or do you prefer to frequent cafes, libraries, or other public spaces?
KATHRYN MCMASTER: I would love to be one of those full-time authors with free days to write. Unfortunately, I lead a very busy life. For part of the year I live on our working farm in Italy which needs my attention. I also live for part of the year on the tiny island of Gozo, Malta which can be disruptive to routine. In addition, I run several author groups on Facebook helping fellow authors, and I co-own and help run a book marketing platform called One Stop Fiction where I do the business development, among other things. So, if I get to write a couple of pages a week, I count myself very lucky. This is usually done either in bed, late at night, or in the early hours of the morning, or on a Sunday, if I have one free.
(6) ODBR: A question that everyone wants to know about authors: What are you currently reading or what books are currently on your nightstand?
KATHRYN MCMASTER: I currently have two books on my nightstand. I have just finished C. J. Sansom’s “Lamentation” which I enjoyed. The book I am currently reading is, “The Hit”, by David Baldacci. I have an eclectic taste in reading matter and will read just about anything.
(7) ODBR: Are you working on something new? Could you please tell us about your work-in- progress, what it’s about and when to expect its publication?
KATHRYN MCMASTER: I have currently picked up something I started a while back before I was sidetracked by writing “Blackmail, Sex and Lies”. This will be a novella, offered to my subscribers to my website free of charge, or you can purchase it on Amazon. It is called “A Triple Murder at Sea” that took place on the water between Boston and Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1896. There are eleven people on board, one of them is the killer, but no one knows who. Again, this will be a fictionalized account of the true events. After that, I will finish another manuscript that is a work in progress on the sad death and mutilation of Barbara Whitham Waterhouse in Horsforth, UK in 1891. Her death is linked to that of Johnny Gill’s death in Manningham, 1888 which featured in my first novel called, “Who Killed Little Johnny Gill?” and needs to be written. After that, I hope to tackle the true crime stories.
(8) ODBR: How can readers find out more about you and your books? Are you active on social media?
ONE STOP FICTION: https://onestopfiction.com/kathryn-mcmaster
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kathryn McMaster is a writer, entrepreneur, wife, mother, and champion of good indie
authors. She co-owns the book promotion company One Stop Fiction (www.onestopfiction.com), where readers can sign up to receive news of free and discounted 4 and 5 star reviewed books. She is also a bestselling author of historical murder mysteries set in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Her debut novel, “Who Killed Little Johnny Gill?” was well received. All her novels are based on true stories, and she melds fact with fiction, writing in the creative nonfiction style. She lives on her 30 acre farm in the beautiful Casentino Valley, Italy for 6 months of the year, and during the other half of the year, on the small island of Gozo, Malta.
You can purchase your copy of Love, Sex and Blackmail at the following links. Until December 14th, the book will be listed for .99p, so grab it while you can!
Purchase from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blackmail-Sex- Lies-Victorian- Mystery-ebook/dp/B0758DV8CY
Purchase from Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/Blackmail-Sex- Lies-Victorian- Mystery-ebook/dp/B0758DV8CY/
Don’t forget that Kathryn McMaster has offered a giveaway for a free copy of her book. If you would like to be entered into the contest, just leave a comment below or on my facebook and a winner will chosen at random on Thursday, December 14, 2017.