BLOG TOUR – Jack the Ripper Victims Series
Guest Post by the Author
What inspired you to write these stories?
The first novel I wrote in the series, Of Thimble and Threat, is about the fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes. I was inspired to write it after reading the police report of her murder. In the report I found a list that cataloged all of the personal belongings, including clothing, found on her at the crime scene. She had over fifty items, many in pockets hidden under her top skirt. The list, though a long one, spoke of a pitiful existence on the street. She’d been sleeping outdoors in a stall at the casual ward of the workhouse and getting by, at least in part, as a casual prostitute.
At the time I read the police report, homelessness was becoming much more common in the U.S.. I was in contact with the homeless more and more. Many of them suffered problems with mental health. I had compassion for them as clearly they did not choose to be homeless.
Eddowes’s possessions seemed to be telling me something of her meager existence in her time, not unlike what I saw on the streets of my time. Having read what was available about Catherine Eddowes’s life, a story began to emerge, one informed by all those items, some old, and some new to her.
Once I’d finished the novel, the environment, London’s East End haunted me, kept calling for me to return. I studied up on the other victims and made a series of it.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters or series?
Yes. There are curiosities of the series, 2 novels that are conjoined to the main series:
1)The Surgeon’s Mate: A Dismemoir (A meta story within the Jack the Ripper Victims Series, part )
2)The Assassin’s Coin, by John Linwood Grant, a companion to Alan M. Clark’s The Prostitute’s Price. The Assassin’s Coin was written at the same time as The Prostitute’s Price. Grant and Clark coordinated their efforts so that the novels both stand on their own as separate books, but also appear together in one volume titled 13 Miller’s Court, in which the two novels’ chapters alternate. The stories, from two different POV characters, share the same timeline, some scenes and some characters. To gain a broader perspective of each novel, read both, preferably together in the single volume13 Miller’s Court.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the books?
I wanted to write stories about the Jack the Ripper victims that were to some extent social commentary about the roles and struggles of women, and about poverty and crime within a society with a class system. I read what was available from the historical record about the Jack the Ripper murders, and studied up on the environment, especially that of London’s poverty-ridden East End so I‘d have a sense of the world in which the women lived. I had to learn about the opportunities and stresses possible within the environment in order to find my stories. I knew how the stories of his victims all ended. I knew that if I did the job right, readers would care about the women I was depicting. Readers who know anything about the murders also would know that the stories are tragedies. Therefore, the trick was to get to the end of each tale in such a way that readers would know that the end of the main character was proper within the context of the story.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Exploring the history. Victorian London was a fascinating world, much of it lost to us now.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
They were women with simple lives, relatively unknown in their time, but their lives on this Earth were not without the struggles, conflicts, high emotion, and controversies that make for good stories. Theirs are stories of survival within the dangerous East End of London in the 1880s.
Who designed your book covers?
I did. I am also and illustrator.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
There are parallels between the society of Victorian London and the where we find ourselves now in the Industrial West. The fast pace of change in Victorian England was a product of the industrial revolution, which caused many problems for British society. In our time, as a result of the tech revolution, we have similar problems; high levels of unemployment, growing poverty, the chasm forming between the haves and have-nots, the power wielded by those with wealth over governments and peoples, and increasing injustice for those with but little voice in their government and a rapidly changing society.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I would spend time with Catherine Eddowes. I’d politely ask her to sing for me.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
They are based on real people, but I only had a skeleton of their lives to inform me. Therefore, I had to fill in the gaps with emotion, motivations, and dialogue that helped move them reasonably through what we do know of their lives.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
They do take on a life of their own and on occasion they argue with what I had planned for them. Most of the time, their arguments are sound and they get their way. That aspect of discovery in the creative process is quite wonderful, I think.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
Because the characters are just like us and the stories are absolutely pertinent to what we experience in our world today. There are parallels between the society of Victorian London and the where we find ourselves now in the Industrial Western. The fast pace of change in Victorian England was a product of the industrial revolution, which caused many problems for British society. In our time, as a result of the tech revolution we have similar problems: high levels of unemployment, growing poverty, the chasm forming between the haves and have-nots, the power wielded by those with wealth over governments and peoples, increasing injustice for those with but little voice in their government and a rapidly changing society.