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Tuesday 1 September 2020

ℚ A Circle Of Dead Girls: Will Rees Mysteries [8] - Eleanor Kuhns

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author Eleanor Kuhns to talk about A Circle Of Dead Girls (29 November 2019, Severn House, 224 pages), a Historical Murder Mystery, book eight in the Will Rees Mysteries series.

"If you haven't read this series- try this intriguing mystery about a weaver in 18th Century Maine married into the Shaker community and solves murders. [...] a well thought out tale with great characters and twists." ~ Kathleen G, Amazon's Top 100 Reviewer 

"I’m still captivated by the life and adventures of stubborn and principled former Revolutionary War soldier and now weaver and farmer, Will Rees. There’s interesting history, twisty mystery, family, friends and not friends, life in Maine and in this latest installment, a traveling circus!" - Goodreads reviewer

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || The Series || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to Eleanor Kuhns; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

What was the inspiration for A Circle Of Dead Girls?

Marker in Philadelphia commemorating the first circus, and flyer from 1797 advertising Rickett's Circus
"When I was researching Death in Salem, my fourth Will Rees, I came upon a note that said elephants were first brought to this country in 1794.  In the same paragraph there was a reference to John Bill Ricketts, who brought the circus to Philadelphia in 1793.  Once I knew that, I knew I had to set one of my mysteries there."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"I base my main character, Will Rees, on my father.  He did indeed have anger issues but he was also really generous.  And he was non-judgemental about other people’s foibles and always tried to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I wanted my main character to be a flawed man, as real people are a mix of good and bad.  I think empathy, which my father demonstrated, would be an advantage for a detective.

My eldest brother is a magician.  He helped me with the history and some of the illusions."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for A Circle Of Dead Girls - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"It is interesting that you mention the cover.  We had a really difficult time with this one.

The typical graphic – a canvas tent – was not invented until 1825, several decades after this tale.  Finally we opted to portray Leah, the murder victim.  But she is facing away from the reader to suggest her fate.  We would have made her transparent if the artist had been able to do it."
Why should we read A Circle Of Dead Girls and what sets it apart from the rest?  What makes your book unique?
"As far as I know, I am the only author who writes about this time period (roughly 1795 onward.)  This is called the Federalist Period and it was barely twenty years after the American Revolution.

I also set many of my books against the Shaker community.  (There is still one community left, in Maine, where the stories are set geographically.)  I do not plan to set all of the books with the Shakers since I don’t want to become stale, but so far about three-quarters involve the sect.  In fact, the victim in A Circle of Dead Girls is a young Shaker girl.

When I began the series, I wanted to focus on American History.  Many of my colleagues write historical mysteries but few take place in the new United States.  Victorian England is a great favorite as a setting.  I wanted something different."
Can you tell us something quirky about A Circle Of Dead Girls, its story and characters?
"I am not sure I do quirky.

I do include a different disease in every book.  For example, in A Circle of Dead Girls, Billy, the dwarf circus clown, is slowly dying of tuberculosis.

Until COVID, I think we were complacent in the Western world about health since we’d beaten back so many diseases.  Before the invention of antibiotics, TB killed hundreds of thousands.  It is still a scourge in parts of the world.  A new drug resistant variety had developed and there is a lot of fear TB could become epidemic again."
Is there anything that readers should be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers) when reading A Circle Of Dead Girls?
"No.  Although not a cozy, it is certainly not noir either.  There is no bad language – people spoke much more formally then.  I would say teens and up could enjoy this mystery."
If you could / wished to turn A Circle Of Dead Girls and the Will Rees Mysteries series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"I know this is going to sound crazy but my preferred director would be Steven Spielberg. He does not do this kind of genre but he is a fabulous director.

For Rees I would choose Sean Bean and for Lydia, Scarlett Johansson.  
Steven Spielberg Sean Bean Scarlett Johansson
I would definitely shoot in Maine.  I would want to get the scenery right."
What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I used to write SciFi and Fantasy and I still read a lot of it.  (I reread ‘The Dark is Rising’ by Susan Cooper and ‘The Doomsday Book’ by Connie Willis at least once every year.)  I’ve always read mysteries but now it is almost like homework.  I can’t help but pay attention to the mechanics."
What is your writing process?
"I rise early and write every day without fail.  I find it easiest in the mornings because the household is quiet and there are no emails or other distractions."
What is in store next?
Death in the Great Dismal (cover) - pre-order it now on Amazon"The next book after A Circle of Dead Girls sends Rees and Lydia to the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia.  Before our Civil War, hundreds, maybe thousands, of fugitive slaves took refuge in the swamp.  They were nicknamed maroons.

It is a piece of history few of us know about.  In the new book, Tobias, a free man who was caught by slave catchers and sold south but escapes, pleads with Rees and Lydia to help him rescue his enslaved wife.  They make their way to the swamp and shortly after their arrival, one of the maroons is found murdered."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I own a dog, a mixed breed named Shelby.  As you can see, I am also an enthusiastic hiker."
Eleanor & Shelby hiking
What a wonderful companion and what a scenery!

Hello gorgeous Shelby! Lots of head-scratches and belly rubs to you from all of us here at BooksChatter!

Thank you for chatting to us, Eleanor; we hope you have a great tour!

A Circle of Dead Girls (cover)A circus arrives in Durham and the whole town is excited... until the body of a Shaker girl is found beaten.

A Circle Of Dead Girls
Available NOW!

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1 comment:

CMash said...

1795!!! Wow...this sounds really interesting!!