Gwen Mayo's second novel, Concealed in Ash, is now available on Kindle. The print version will soon be available.
Former Pinkerton Agent Nessa Donnelly has nearly forgotten life before trading in her skirts for her brother's suit. As “Ness Donnelly”, she’s become Kentucky's most prominent detective, but her success is built upon a foundation of lies. Now she must help Doc Haydon, the county medical examiner, identify a murder victim discovered in the ashes of Lexington's Phoenix Hotel. The victim is Fergus O’Brien, Mary Katherine McGuire’s uncle. Nessa first met Mary Katherine on a blind date, and their relationship bloomed. Beulah, her beloved housekeeper and ally, warns Nessa that she is creating expectations, but Nessa waves her off.
Unfortunately, evidence from the hotel room puts Mary Katherine at the scene on the night of the fire. The more Nessa learns, the stronger the case against Mary Katherine grows. Worst of all, though, Doc Haydon has taken an interest in Mary Katherine himself – which bothers Nessa far more than she thinks it should.
When a colored boy is charged with murdering O’Brien, a white man, Nessa’s first reaction is relief. Professor Percival Pettijohn, a quirky inventor, pleads with Nessa to save Jake, his young assistant, from the gallows. The lad had good reason to kill O'Brien, but Pettijohn is certain he was framed. Nessa is reluctant to help until she discovers that Pettijohn's assistant is Beulah’s grandson.
Haydon, Donnelly, and Pettijohn put their lives on the line as a mob attempts to lynch the youngster. Stopping the mob once is not enough; O'Brien was involved with the Red Strings, a vigilante group with Northern sympathies. They show up in force, along with their mortal enemies, the Ku Klux Klan. Finding the real killer is the only hope Jake has, but this means Nessa must place herself between the Klan and the Red Strings.
Get ready for the long-awaited sequel to Gwen Mayo's first novel! We'll be launching it in the next few days.
This book has been a long time coming. Gwen's work on Concealed in Ash was interrupted when we made a radical life change - moving from Kentucky to Florida - due to life circumstances. But it was only an interruption, and we're pleased to share the good news with you!
Stay tuned for more information.
Gwen Mayo's first novel, Circle of Dishonor, is now available on Kindle again. The print version will follow shortly.
Nessa Donnelly and her brother were Pinkerton agents during the Civil War. After her brother was murdered by the Knights of the Golden Circle, she took his identity and pursued them. Fifteen years later, she's still living under her brother's name, looking for the killers. When Lexington prostitute Belle Brezing comes to her for help, Nessa follows a string of bodies that lead her to the Knights... but if she's not careful, she could be their next trophy.
This revision (the original was published by Pill Hill Press) reveals more details about Nessa Donnelly's background. It also contains a section of historical notes after the story.
If you didn't catch the novel in its first run, grab it now. The sequel, Concealed in Ash, will be out later this year.
"Mayo’s depiction of late-19th century Kentucky is fascinating, and the mystery is ably handled. The author has a knack for the telling detail, giving us a picture of a society struggling to recover from the consequences of the Civil War. Recommended."
History and Mystery, Oh My! is a finalist in the Short Fiction category for the 2015 FAPA President's Award. The Florida Authors & Publishers Association awards these annually. Monstermatt Patterson took the gold last year with Ha-Ha! Horror.
HMOM is up against two other story collections for the gold.
The awards will be given on August 8th. Keep your fingers crossed!
Part of the reason I found Cari's story, "Life Sentence", especially striking was due to its sensory qualities, especially scent. I felt like I was really in Victorian London while reading the tale, because I've often suspected the city stunk more than mentioned in the average cozy.
How did you come up with the idea for your story in History and Mystery, Oh My?
The germ of the story came at our local drive-in hot dog place. I was watching an older couple sitting in a car across from us. There was an eerie synchrony to everything they did: ordering, eating, paying the check. I wondered what it would be like to be married for that long, and what would happen if one of them died. Then, I started wondering what else could happen in that scenario, and what other conflicts could arise if I put that couple into Victorian London. I hope they didn’t notice me watching them!
Do you have a favorite historical period you enjoy reading or writing about?
My husband can watch the History Channel for hours, but I tend to get bored with straight history. I am more interested in context. How were people different in different eras? What were their personal challenges? With those questions, I can immerse myself in any historical period. I love English settings as well, hence my interest in my story’s setting.
Do you have some special education that helps you write historical fiction, or do you deal with history in your profession?
I’m a librarian, and in 2010, I spent the year writing the Centennial keepsake book for my library. I spent a lot of time searching through primary sources and working with the library’s Centennial committee. That led me to start writing historical mystery plays for the library as well, and we’ve performed three of them so far. Now I manage the computer lab, so I don’t have as much time for reference librarianship, but I try to keep my skills as sharp as possible. We have to find the right balance between honoring the past and trying to predict the future, while helping our patrons navigate through a constantly shifting present.
What are you working on now?
I am primarily writing short stories right now. One of my latest works features Violet, my protagonist for this story, again. I also have a few contemporary mysteries and science fiction shorts in the works.
Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
Like many librarians, I read widely. Mysteries, of course – all kinds. My favorite are puzzle thrillers with lots of twists and turns. I also enjoy science fiction and fantasy, urban fantasy, YA, women’s fiction, the occasional romance, literary fiction, and nonfiction. So, pretty much anything.
MAHLLC proudly presents: History and Horror, Oh My! Learn the real reasons for the trial of Socrates, the curse of Glamis Castle, and the writing of the Book of the Dead. Discover the horrors of both the American Civil War and the English Civil War. Meet a vampire during the Dust Bowl and a Sasquatch traveling among the fur trappers of Canada.
History and Horror, Oh My! can be purchased in print and ebooks formats at Amazon and Smashwords.
Scott T Barnes
T. Fox Dunham
D. Alan Dunn
David W. Landrum
The first is Strangely Funny II, this year's collection of humorous paranormal stories. The guidelines are available on our Submissions page, and we hope to have the cover shortly.
The other two will be:
- History and Horror, Oh My!
- History and Mystery, Oh My!
In this case, 'historical' means your story should be set in a time at least fifty years ago. You know how they're celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles playing the Ed Sullivan show? Yeah, your story should be set during that time or before.
Let us not discuss members of the MAHLLC staff who qualify as historical under these standards... please. Just warm up those keyboards!
Mystery and Horror, LLC, is an indie press interested in what the name suggests.
Ha Ha! Horror