Author Spotlight: Nancy Herriman

Nancy Herriman

Today I’m thrilled to welcome author Nancy Herriman to Reade and Write. Besides being a great singer, Nancy is a fabulous mystery author who pens the “A Mystery of Old San Francisco” series and the Bess Ellyott Mystery series. She’s joining me here today to talk about her upcoming release, No Darkness as like Death, book 4 in the ‘A Mystery of Old San Francisco’ series.

No Darkness as like Death (A Mystery of Old San Francisco Book 4) by [Nancy Herriman]

If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you might remember that Nancy has been here before. She talked about the third book in the San Francisco mysteries, No Quiet Among the Shadows, here. And I highly recommended the first two books in the series, No Comfort for the Lost (here) and No Pity for the Dead (here).

I think it’s obvious that I love Nancy’s books. I’ve preordered No Darkness As Like Death and I’m looking forward to its arrival on my ereader on April 6, 2021.

Welcome, Nancy!

The books in your ‘A Mystery of Old San Francisco’ series takes place during a specific time period in San Francisco’s history (late 1860s). Why did you choose this particular period? Were there other time periods you considered? Why did you decide not to go with one of those?

The specific year my books are set in—1867—happened by chance. I’d been researching various events during the Victorian era and came upon an article about the beginnings of the anti-Chinese movement. The article gave me the idea for the murder that occurs in Book 1, No Comfort for the Lost, and dictated the year.

Can you give us a quick recap of the first three books in the series?

I’ll try! My main sleuth is Celia Davies, an English nurse who has taken over the care of her orphaned niece. Celia’s husband has left her to find riches elsewhere, and she turns to running a free women’s clinic in the city. She becomes involved in solving murders when one of her Chinese patients is found dead in the bay. She expects the police won’t be interested in discovering who killed the young woman, given her ethnicity. Surprisingly, Detective Nicholas Greaves is keen to see justice done. After that murderer is uncovered, Celia has no plans to continue sleuthing. But when a dead body is found in the basement of a close friend’s business, and the friend is suspected, she insists on getting involved in the case. In the next book, the private investigator she’d hired to locate her husband is killed, an investigation that entangles both her and Nick in the world of spiritualism and seances.

What kinds of resources did you use to research this book?

Fortunately for me, there is a great deal of reference material available online for San Francisco in specific and California in general. I’ve used archived newspapers, digitized books—especially when researching some of the details about the ‘water cure’ and how photography was practiced at this time—online maps and miscellaneous other items. Research has become much simpler in the internet age, that’s for sure.

What’s the most interesting thing you learned while doing the research for the book?

I chose a water cure facility as the location for the crime in No Darkness as like Death and enjoyed learning about them. These institutions touted their ability to cure all manner of ills through cold (or steam) bathing, drinking fresh cold water, massages, and strict diets. Which is not the craziest of treatments for that time period, and to me sounds rather modern and even sensible. These facilities promised greater curative results than they could actually deliver, though.

What are some of the things you learned that didn’t make it into the book?

I’d intended to include some research I’d done on medical batteries. This treatment involves having a ‘practitioner’ give you a series of shocks over different parts of your body, depending on what’s being ‘healed.’ It was quite the rage in the 19th century, but the practice ended up not working for this particular book.

Do you have a special connection with San Francisco that made you decide to write about the city?

Nothing more than a love for a city I’ve often visited and find endlessly fascinating. Besides its great history, San Francisco has always been filled with a host of interesting characters and makes for a great setting.

Do you read a lot of historical mysteries? If so, can you recommend some of your favorites?

My favorites are the Falco series by Lindsey Davis and the late Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody books. I’ve recently taken up reading novels by authors who wrote in the 1920s and ‘30s, and currently have a Dorothy L. Sayers mystery on my bedside table.

Do you think your background in engineering helps your writing at all?

At the beginning of my career, I think my background was a bit of a hindrance. I kept imagining I could plan my way into a completed novel. I’ve had to learn to limit my pre-planning and plotting and basically just let the process happen.

Many authors have a character “bible,” or a history/biography of a character’s life that helps the author maintain consistency for that character throughout a series. Most of the things in a character bible never make it into a book because they’re for the author’s use only. Do you use a character bible? Can you tell us something about Celia or Nick that no one else knows?

My character ‘bible’ might be more aptly described as a character notecard. I admit that I’m not the best at keeping track of everyone’s characteristics or back-stories. That said, I did develop a rather thorough background for both Nick and Celia that I’ve only touched upon. I would like to more deeply explore the death of Nick’s sister Meg in a future book. There is a mystery to it I’ve not previously mentioned.

What’s next for Celia and Nick?

I’m presently working on the next book in the series, title not yet decided upon. It is scheduled to be published in the spring of 2022.

To visit Nancy’s website, click here. You can learn more about her, her books, and order them for yourself!

Nancy Herriman’s bio

Nancy Herriman retired from an engineering career to take up the pen. She hasn’t looked back. Her work has won the Daphne du Maurier award, and Publishers Weekly has said her ‘A Mystery of Old San Francisco’ series “…brings 1867 San Francisco to vivid life.” Her most recent release is NO DARKNESS AS LIKE DEATH. She is also the author of the Bess Ellyott Mystery series set in Tudor England. When not writing, she enjoys singing, gabbing about writing, and eating dark chocolate. She currently lives in central Ohio. 

Thanks for being my guest here today, Nancy.

Until next time,

Amy

I Need Your Advice!

Some of you may know that I’ve recently joined a book club. I love being part of this group and I’ve enthusiastically embraced the duties of membership (i.e., I have to be ready to discuss each book we read and I’ve agreed to host the club at my house at least once a year–where we discuss the book of my choosing).

So here’s where I need your help. It’ll be my turn to host the book club in March, and I need to be thinking about which book I’m going to choose. I’ve narrowed it down to five books, and I’d like you to vote on which one you think our book club should read (many thanks to blogger and author James J. Cudney for sharing this idea–click on his name to be redirected to his site, which I think you’ll love).

Whichever book you choose, we’ll read. I won’t tell you which one I hope you pick! Scroll down through the choices to the poll at the bottom of the page.

Here are the choices:

Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini. Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“In a life that spanned nearly a century and witnessed some of the most momentous events in American history, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born a slave. A gifted seamstress, she earned her freedom by the skill of her needle, and won the friendship of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln by her devotion.

A sweeping historical novel, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker illuminates the extraordinary relationship the two women shared, beginning in the hallowed halls of the White House during the trials of the Civil War and enduring almost, but not quite, to the end of Mrs. Lincoln’s days.”

***

Woman Enters Left by Jessica Brockmole. Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“In the 1950s, movie star Louise Wilde is caught between an unfulfilling acting career and a shaky marriage when she receives an out-of-the-blue phone call: She has inherited the estate of Florence “Florrie” Daniels, a Hollywood screenwriter she barely recalls meeting. Among Florrie’s possessions are several unproduced screenplays, personal journals, and—inexplicably—old photographs of Louise’s mother, Ethel. On an impulse, Louise leaves a film shoot in Las Vegas and sets off for her father’s house on the East Coast, hoping for answers about the curious inheritance and, perhaps, about her own troubled marriage.

Nearly thirty years earlier, Florrie takes off on an adventure of her own, driving her Model T westward from New Jersey in pursuit of broader horizons. She has the promise of a Hollywood job and, in the passenger seat, Ethel, her best friend since childhood. Florrie will do anything for Ethel, who is desperate to reach Nevada in time to reconcile with her husband and reunite with her daughter. Ethel fears the loss of her marriage; Florrie, with long-held secrets confided only in her journal, fears its survival.

In parallel tales, the three women—Louise, Florrie, Ethel—discover that not all journeys follow a map. As they rediscover their carefree selves on the road, they learn that sometimes the paths we follow are shaped more by our traveling companions than by our destinations.”

***

Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“When they were children, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus, and Dave Boyle were friends. But then a strange car pulled up to their street. One boy got into the car, two did not, and something terrible happened — something that ended their friendship and changed all three boys forever.

Twenty-five years later, Sean is a homicide detective. Jimmy is an ex-con who owns a corner store. And Dave is trying to hold his marriage together and keep his demons at bay — demons that urge him to do terrible things. When Jimmy’s daughter is found murdered, Sean is assigned to the case. His investigation brings him into conflict with Jimmy, who finds his old criminal impulses tempt him to solve the crime with brutal justice. And then there is Dave, who came home the night Jimmy’s daughter died covered in someone else’s blood.

A tense and unnerving psychological thriller, Mystic River is also an epic novel of love and loyalty, faith and family, in which people irrevocably marked by the past find themselves on a collision course with the darkest truths of their own hidden selves.”

***

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?

Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.”

***

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything―everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.

Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere―even back home.”

The poll will close on Monday, January 20, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Until next time,

Amy

 

Introducing Trudy’s Diary!

Here it is! My street team, newsletter subscribers, and social media followers saw this last week, so now it’s time for the cover to go on the blog!

Introducing, Trudy’s Diary, Book One in the Libraries of the World Mystery Series!

Here’s the blurb:

Daisy Carruthers moved to Washington, DC, from New York City following an emotionally draining murder investigation, little knowing she would soon be involved in two more. But when her boss and her best friend come under suspicion for killing two adulterous lovers, Daisy has no choice but to help when they ask. 

And when she comes across a diary and an old dime novel with suspiciously similar stories and unknown origins, she knows all the mysteries are somehow connected.

Can she figure out the identity of the killer–or killers–before it’s too late?

* * *

Trudy’s Diary is the first book in my new series featuring special collections from libraries all over the world. In this book, I’ve focused on the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, which seemed a fitting place to start. Book Two, which is in the works and currently does not have a working title, features the map collection at the main branch of the New York City Public Library. Book Three takes my readers over to England, but I’m not going to say any more about that just yet.

I’ll let you know when it’s ready for pre-order!

Until next time,

Amy