Historical Chicago and Characters Who Insist on Being Seen with Tracy Tonkinson

Podcast episode 31Tracy Tonkinson is a fellow Canadian author who has a deep love for history. In this interview she explains what drew her to write about late 19th century Chicago. We also discuss her character Drew McMillan, who made himself known to Tracy, and had such an effect on her, that she’s now writing a second mystery series featuring this Pinkerton agent.

In the introduction I mention that podcast guest Cassidy Salem will have the next book in her Adina Donati series available next week. You can learn more about Dying for Data here.

You can find out more about today’s guest, Tracy, and all her books on her website DiamondAndDoranMysteries.com. You can also find her on Facebook.

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.

Transcription of Interview with Tracy Tonkinson

Alexandra: Hi, Mystery readers. I’m Alexandra Amor, this is It’s a Mystery podcast and I’m here today with Tracy Tonkinson. Hi, Tracy.

Tracy: Hi, Alexandra, how are you?

Alexandra: Very well, how are you?

Tracy: Good, thank you.

Alexandra: Good, excellent, so let me introduce you to our listeners.

TracyTTracy Tonkinson is the author of “Madman” and of “Poison,” the first two books in her “Diamond And Doran Mystery Series,” which follow rookie cop Arthur Diamond and the veteran sergeant Billy Doran as they clean up 19th century Chicago.

Also out soon is “Argent,” which is the first book in the “Drew McMillan Case Files” series and this one follows the early career of Pinkerton agent, Drew McMillan.

Let’s begin talking about Diamond and Doran.

Let’s start by talking about Sergeant Billy Doran. Tell us a bit about him. He’s an Irish Catholic living in Chicago.

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The Swinging Sixties, Dirty Weekends, and Rat-Like Cunning with Peter Bartram

Podcast episode 27As writers, my guests and I make stories up from our imagination, but we also very often pull parts of them from our own lives. As a reader, I love nothing more than when a mystery novel is grounded in real life. It gives such depth and richness to a novel.

Peter Bartram is an author who has worked as a journalist for decades. He has brought that experience, and the experience of living and working in the seaside town in the south of England called Brighton, to his series of mystery novels. Peter’s series involves main character, and cunning journalist, Colin Crampton, his beautiful girlfriend Shirley the Sheila, and a host of other characters who are entirely fictional, but as Peter says, are influenced by his time on the news desk.

I learned some things I didn’t know during this interview, which always pleases me, including a bit about how newspaper type was set before the age of computers.

You can find out more about Peter and his Colin Crampton series on his website ColinCrampton.com. And as with so many of my guests, Peter has a book available for free. It is a prequel to the series and you can find it here.

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.

Transcript of Interview with Peter Bartram

Alexandra: Hi everyone, this is It’s a Mystery podcast, I’m Alexandra Amor and I’m here with Pete Bartram. Hi Peter.

Peter: Good morning, Alexandra.

Alexandra: How are you today?

Peter: I am very well and how about yourself?

Alexandra: I’m good. Yeah, a little soggy here in Vancouver today, but otherwise doing well.

Let me introduce you to our listeners.

PeterBPeter Bartram brings years of experience as a journalist to his Crampton of the Chronicle Crime Mystery series. Which features crime reporter Colin Crampton in 1960s Brighton, England. Peter’s novels are fast-paced and humorous. The action is matched by the laughs.

Peter began his career as a reporter on the Worthing Herald newspaper in the U.K. before working as a journalist and editor in London and finally becoming freelance. He has done most things in journalism, from door stepping for quotes to writing serious editorials. He’s pursued stories in locations as diverse as 700 feet down a coal mine and the courtier’s chamber at the Buckingham Palace.

Peter has written 21 non-fiction books, including five ghost-written, in areas such as biographies, current affairs and how-to titles before turning to crime and penning “Headline Murder,” the first novel in the Crampton of the Chronicle series.

Welcome Peter.

I want to start back at the beginning and ask you what prompted you to make the switch from non-fiction to fiction after such a long career in non-fiction.

Peter: Well, I’ve always wanted to do it. A basic problem wretched me, I thought, “No money in it.” That may ultimately prove to be wrong, only time will tell.

The fact of the matter is, I’ve worked all my career as a journalist. I was a freelance journalist from 1974 onwards. When you’re a freelance journalist and you’re earning your living from it, you have to keep your nose to the grindstone writing features and stories and commissioned non-fiction books at the time. And it was only in recent years that I have had a chance to do this, which is something that I always wanted to do.

Alexandra: Colin and the stories that are set in Brighton.

You specifically chose to set them in the 1960s. So why is that?

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Historical Kentucky Mysteries and a Famous Madam with Gwen Mayo

Introduction

Podcast episode 10Author Gwen Mayo is a history buff. She writes mystery novels set in the late 19th century with a strong female heroine, like I do, which is one reason I wanted to talk to her.

Gwen’s passion for history comes through in this wide-ranging interview where we talk about everyting from the political atmosphere in Kentucky after the American Civil War, to a madam who was the model for the character Belle Watling in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.

You can find Gwen and her books via her website at GwenMayo.com
She’s also on Twitter.
And Facebook.

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.

Transcript of Interview with Gwen Mayo

Alexandra: Hi everyone, I’m Alexandra Amor and this is It’s a Mystery podcast. I’m here today with Gwen Mayo. Hi, Gwen.

Gwen: Hi.

Alexandra: How are you doing today?

Gwen: Doing great.

Alexandra: Is it warm there in Florida?

Sarah: No.

Gwen: Not for Florida.

Alexandra: No? I heard a voice in the background.

Gwen: Yes. I’m afraid Sarah can’t but help join me.

Alexandra: That’s great. I have some relatives who winter in Florida and they’re on the panhandle. They’ve had a lot of rain they said this year.

Gwen: It’s been fairly wet but the temperatures are…usually the 50s and 60s about now so it’s not as warm as they would like it to be. Usually, they’re wanting 70s and 80s here.

Alexandra: That’s right. Exactly. Yup, that’s what my Canadian relatives are looking for. So, just for everyone’s benefit, I’m going to tell them a little bit about you.

Gwen Mayo loves reading and writing mystery fiction. She currently lives and writes in Safety Harbor, Florida, but is forever a Kentucky Wildcat. Her stories have appeared in anthologies at online short fiction sites and in micro fiction collections. She currently has two novels in the Nessa Donnelly series, and is working on one fiction, and one nonfiction book set in Florida.

So it was the Nessa Donnelly mysteries that I really wanted to talk to you Gwen. Before we got on the call, I mentioned that I’m writing mystery novels in sort of the same period, late 19th century.

Let’s start with Nessa. So she was a Pinkerton agent, so tell us a bit about her and that job.

Gwen_400x400Gwen: The Pinkertons were basically putting people into places where they can pick up information. In Nessa’s case, they had her working as a nurse in one of the army hospitals, and so as she was writing letters from the troops, she would copy any important information, and send it off to Pinkerton. Pinkertons are kind of their own secret society at the time. They were wearing the little pinky ring to identify each other, which is where they got picked up that pinky ring on the finger from.

Alexandra: Oh, I didn’t know that. That’s where the expression came from.

Gwen: Yes. It’s really the place where the tradition started in putting a ring on that finger. So, they would now know the other Pinkerton agents that were in the field. So they had to have some way of identifying each other and they chose the little gold ring.

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