Jessie, in New Hampshire where the star magnolia is gloriously in bloom!
I am sure all of you know the work of Victoria Thompson, if not the woman herself. She writes both the Gaslight Mysteries and the Counterfeit Lady Mysteries and often can be spotted in person at conferences like Malice Domestic. Victoria is as sparkling, fun, and interesting as her novels and I have truly enjoyed getting to know her online and in person. I also have the pleasure of participating in the Sleuths in Time group on Facebook with her regularly. If you are interested, we will be appearing there together live on May 10 to launch each of our latest releases. We’d love to see you there!
By Victoria Thompson
Mark your calendar! Jessica Ellicott and Victoria Thompson will be discussing their new releases, Death in a Blackout and Murder on Madison Square, in a Facebook Live presentation on Tuesday, May 10 at 7:00pm ET.
When I was researching the 25th novel in my Gaslight Mystery Series, Murder on Madison Square, I discovered that the very first auto show ever held in America happened at Madison Square Garden during the time this book was set. Of course, I had to include it, since my protagonist, Frank Malloy, has purchased a motorcar and is very interested in them. In the year 1900, when the book is set, three types of motorcars were available. Frank has chosen a gasoline-powered model, but these are the least popular since they are noisy, smelly and difficult to start and drive. The engine must be cranked, and if it backfires, the crank would suddenly reverse and could break a thumb or an arm or it might be propelled into the air with enough force to fracture a skull. Yikes. Second in popularity was the steam-powered motorcar, but they took at least 30 minutes to build up enough steam to operate and if you ran out of water in the middle of nowhere, you were stuck.
The most popular motorcar at this time was the electric, which was quiet, odorless, and required no effort at all to start. Since this was true, you’re probably wondering why electrics fell out of favor and weren’t taken seriously again for another hundred years. We could have been independent of fossil fuels for the past century! What happened? For one thing, as easy as the electrics were to drive, they couldn’t go very far on a battery charge, only about 25 miles or even less. This was fine in the city, but you couldn’t take a trip, for example. Also, finding a place to charge your battery could be a problem, since most houses weren’t yet wired for electricity in 1900. Even Thomas Edison wasn’t able to develop a longer lasting battery. But the final nail in the coffin of the electric motorcar was the fact that ladies preferred them because they were so easy to drive. Manufacturers started designing the electrics to appeal to ladies, even adding a vase for fresh flowers! And wouldn’t you know, men started refusing to drive them because they were for women. This affected sales, naturally, and when Henry Ford put an electric starter in his gasoline-powered Model T, making it as easy to start as an electric, that sealed the fate of the electrics.
Readers, it’s interesting to imagine how different our world might be if the electric motorcar had maintained its position as the most popular type of vehicle. In Murder on Madison Square
Victoria Thompson is the Edgar® and Agatha Award nominated author of the Gaslight Mystery Series, and the Counterfeit Lady series. Victoria teaches in the Seton Hill University master’s program in writing popular fiction. She lives in Illinois with her husband and a very spoiled little dog.
Follow her on Facebook at Victoria.Thompson.Author and on Twitter @gaslightvt. Visit her webpage www.victoriathompson.com.
Sarah and Frank Malloy must catch a scheming killer in this latest gripping installment in the USA Today bestselling Gaslight Mysteries
Former policeman Frank Malloy is frustrated when a woman requests his private detective services to implicate her wealthy husband in adultery, the only legal grounds for divorce in New York state. Although Mrs. Bing seems genuinely distressed about her marriage and desperate to end it, she refuses to tell Frank the reason she absolutely must divorce her husband and admits she has no legal grounds. Frank explains he won’t manufacture evidence for her and sends her on her way.
The following week, Frank and Sarah happen to be attending the