Edith/Maddie here, so happy to have Carol Pouliot back on the blog with a new book and a giveaway! I love what she says about her research.
21st-century journalist Olivia Watson thinks traveling back in time to 1934 to attend a Halloween party with her friend Detective Steven Blackwell will be a lot of fun. And it is…until she witnesses the head of the Shipley Five-and-Dime empire murdered, and fears the killer saw her face.
The smart move is to return to the safety of the present, but Olivia possesses a secret and is about to defy the unwritten rules of time-travel. She convinces Steven to let her stay in his time and help unravel the motives behind the murder, even if it means risking her own life to save another.
When Steven delves into the investigation, he discovers how a bitter relationship, a chance encounter, and a fateful decision converged to set the stage for murder. In a maze full of unreliable clues and misdirection, dark secrets refuse to stay buried and forgotten ghosts won’t fade away. Steven is reminded that old sins cast long shadows. Can Steven catch the killer before time runs out for Olivia?
Having Fun with Research
When I began writing The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, I focused on the murder investigations, time-travel elements, and relationship between Depression-era cop Steven Blackwell and 21st-century journalist Olivia Watson. Then I reminded myself that my books are also historical mysteries because they take place in 1934.
As a kid, the mere mention of history got me yawning. Years later, I made the connection between history and the people who actually lived it. That changed everything.
I began traveling in Europe, visiting beautiful old buildings, drinking in cafés that had been the haunts of famous people, walking the streets where my favorite writers and artists had strolled. I was hooked.
I love doing research and my book research has been tons of fun. I work mostly with primary sources: photographs, movies, ephemera (menus, ads), artifacts (clothing, cars), and books, newspapers and magazines published at the time. This is where, like an archeologist, I dig for the details that pull readers in and make them feel like they’re living in 1934.
I began with the 1927 edition of The Sears Roebuck Catalogue to furnish Steven’s house, fill his closet, and provide Olivia with a wardrobe for her visits to 1934.
Archived copies of Good Housekeeping, The Delineator, and Ladies Home Journal show me what beauty products and household items were available to the women in my fictional town Knightsbridge. Studying ads and reading articles, including letters to the editor, provide an insight into how women thought and felt during the Depression.
I read local newspapers and The New York Times from the week when each book takes place, pouring over grocery store ads, weather reports, and radio programs. I was thrilled to discover that during the last week of February 1934, the Feds were chasing John Dillinger and his gang. What a perfect subject for my cops to be talking about in Threshold of Deceit!
Automobiles are a big part of my books. In addition to the police vehicles and mortuary van, some of my male characters identify with their cars. Steven loves his 1929 jungle green Chevy sedan, while dapper police photographer Gray Wilson got a brand new 1934 cobalt blue Packard Super 8 Roadster (a gift from his wealthy grandfather) in Death Rang the Bell, and Doc Elliott, the elderly, heavy smoking medical examiner, coughs and sputters in harmony with his old, rundown Model-T Ford.
Every summer, the Syracuse Nationals brings thousands of classic cars to town. When I explain that I’m researching my 1934 mystery novels, owners let me sit in the cars, honk the horns, and take pictures. Some have turned on the engine so I can hear how loud the cars were.
I inherited several items from my grandparents, including pieces of Art Deco Depression glass, an aluminum percolator, and, most valuable to me, my grandmother’s photo album. I can see how average people looked and dressed, what their houses and cars were like, and the things they did for fun. Most of all, I treasure what I learned from my Dad, who was 11 in 1934. He gave me priceless insights into his life as a child during the Depression, allowing me to enrich my characters.
I hope you’ll enjoy the 1930s world I’ve created in my books.
Readers: How do you connect with the past? I’ll give away one uncorrected (print) ARC of Death Rang the Bell (US only) to one commenter~
A Francophile at age 11, Carol Pouliot dreamed of going to Paris. After a Master’s at Stony Brook University, she headed to France for her first teaching job. She taught French and Spanish for over 30 years in Upstate New York, and founded an agency that provided translations in over 24 languages. Carol is the author of The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, including the latest Death Rang the Bell. When not writing, Carol can be found reaching for her passport and packing a suitcase for her next adventure. Sign up for Carol’s newsletter and learn more at http://www.carolpouliot.com