Edith here north of Boston, madly trying to finish a first draft.
I’m delighted to present Jess Montgomery, our next amazing historical mystery author in this month of Badass Babes from the Before Times. I love her Lily Ross and the Kinship books so very much, and I’m excited I have this new installment, The Echoes, to read. If you haven’t started the series, you must. Read to the end for a giveaway!
As July 4, 1928 approaches, Sheriff Lily Ross and her family look forward to the opening of an amusement park in a nearby town, created by Chalmer Fitzpatrick―a veteran and lumber mill owner. When Lily is alerted to the possible drowning of a girl, she goes to investigate, and discovers schisms going back several generations, in an ongoing dispute over the land on which Fitzpatrick has built the park.
Lily’s family life is soon rattled, too, with the revelation that before he died, her brother had a daughter, Esme, with a woman in France, and arrangements have been made for Esme to immigrate to the U.S. to live with them. But Esme never makes it to Kinship, and soon Lily discovers that she has been kidnapped. Not only that, but a young woman is indeed found murdered in the fishing pond on Fitzpatrick’s property, at the same time that a baby is left on his doorstep.
As the two crimes interweave, Lily must confront the question of what makes family: can we trust those we love? And what do we share, and what do we keep secret?
Take it away, Jess!
What a delight to contribute to “Badass Women from the Before Times!”
My Kinship Historical Mystery Series, set in the Appalachian southeast corner of Ohio, is inspired by the state’s true first female sheriff in Ohio… in 1925. Maude Collins, the real-life sheriff who inspired my protagonist Lily Ross, took on the job after her husband was killed in the line of duty. In 1926, Maude ran for office in her own right—and won by a landslide. All while working as a single mother, and solving crimes including a murder that was written up in the national press. Not only that, but she did so in an era well before modern technology and investigative tools (looking at you, DNA testing), while navigating the tough terrain of Appalachia.
Talk about being a badass.
Lily, too, is a badass as she investigates and solves murders, most recently in my fourth novel in the series, The Echoes, out from Minotaur Books on March 29.
Badass implies toughness, strength, not backing down or wimping out. Lily certainly has those attributes but she also employs de-escalation in tense situations, which requires an inner toughness. She also works closely with members of her community. Sometimes, it takes a village of badasses, after all, to take down the villain.
Her wisdom in understanding she must work with her community to do her job is one reason each of the Kinship novels is dual-narrated by Lily and one other member of her community. (So far, all of Lily’s co-narrators are female.) In The Echoes, Lily’s co-narrator is her mother, Beulah.
Beulah—or “Mama” as Lily calls her—has been a strong, supportive woman for Lily in the background of each of the three preceding novels. I thought it was time for Beulah to share her viewpoint, and this novel was the perfect opportunity as the plot turns on what really happened to Roger—Lily’s older brother and Beulah’s son—during The Great War.
To create Mama, I admit I drew on my own feelings as the mother of two badass daughters. But I also drew on strong women from my family of origin, particularly my paternal aunts, Aunt Opal and Aunt Mary. Both women were innovators in their careers in education and telecommunications, forging new paths as women. Yet, they never bragged about their accomplishments. They led by example—perhaps the best kind of bad-assery. (More about my Aunt Opal here).
Readers: Who in your family or from your childhood was a badass woman who inspires you? One commenter, drawn at random (U.S. only), will receive a copy of The Echoes.
Jess Montgomery is the author of the Kinship Historical Mysteries, set in 1920s Appalachian Ohio and inspired by Ohio’s true first female sheriff. Under her given name, she writes the “Level Up Your (Writing) Life” column for Writer’s Digest. She was formerly a newspaper columnist, focusing on the literary life, authors and events of her native Dayton, Ohio for the Dayton Daily News. She is a three-time recipient of the Individual Excellence Award in Literary Arts from Ohio Arts Council, a two-time recipient of the Montgomery County (Ohio) Arts & Cultural District (MCAD) Artist Opportunity Grant, and has been a John E. Nance Writer in Residence at Thurber House (Columbus, Ohio). Jess lives in her native state of Ohio, where she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, swimming, baking, crocheting, and occasionally fishing and hiking. Learn more at http://www.jessmontgomeryauthor.com