Author 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 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.
Alexandra: How are you doing today?
Gwen: Doing great.
Alexandra: Is it warm there in Florida?
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: 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.